Why Are Garden Spades Made From Metal?

Garden spades are essential tools to have in every garden. You can use them for many things, including digging and reshaping the soil. But you may be wondering why most garden spades are made from metal.

Garden spades are made from metal because it is the strongest material and prevents them from breaking or getting damaged when used. Other materials like wood are too weak and would get damaged much quicker than metal. A typical garden spade metal material is stainless steel. 

The rest of this article will discuss why garden spades are made from metal in greater detail. It will also discuss other garden spade materials and why most tools, in general, are made from metal. 

Are Metal Garden Spades Stronger Than Other Garden Spades?

Metal garden spades are stronger than other garden spades. This is because the common metals used to make garden spades (such as stainless steel and carbon steel) are highly durable while remaining light enough to be used efficiently. 

Metal is more robust than plastic and wood, so it’s only natural that garden spades made of metal would be the strongest contenders. If you want to use a garden spade for some very light work, you could probably use a wooden or plastic spade. But if you plan on doing more intense garden work, you should use a metal one.

The reason metal is so strong is that the atoms are crowded together, forming a solid bond, unlike other weaker materials. Because of this, it’s almost impossible to break or severely damage a garden spade made from metal. 

But let’s say you’re using a plastic garden spade to dig into the soil. If the plastic is weak, it might bend with too much force. It might bend so much that it snaps or breaks in some cases. The plastic could also tear, making the spade less useful. None of these issues would occur with a robust metal tool.

Is Metal the Best Material for Garden Spades?

Metal is the best material for garden spades because it’s the strongest and most long-lasting type. Stainless steel is one of the best garden spade materials because it’s durable and easy to clean. 

Although metal is the best material for garden spades, there are some negatives to consider. The main negative is that metal can rust, so you’ll need to take proper care of your garden spade to avoid it getting too rusty.

Rusting occurs when a material like metal corrodes due to contact with oxygen and water. So, the best way to prevent your metal garden spade from rusting is to keep it in a dry place away from any moisture or rain. 

You should also clean and dry it after each use because soil can carry moisture. And if you leave the moist soil sitting on the metal spade, rust is more likely to form. To learn more about rust on garden tools, you can read this article: Why Do Garden Tools Rust?

A stainless steel garden spade will be less likely to rust, so you might consider that as an option.

Although rusting is the main negative, there are many positives of using a metal garden spade:

  • Metal is strong
  • Many types of metals are easy to clean and dry
  • Mold is much less likely to grow on metal when compared with other materials like wood

Best Metal for Garden Spades

The best metal for garden spades is high-carbon steel. Due to how this type of metal is formed, it is solid and an excellent material for digging and other essential gardening tasks. The next best metal for garden spades is stainless steel. 

High-carbon steel is more robust than stainless steel, so it’s generally the better material for a garden spade. And since it’s cheaper to make, it’s an attractive material for many people.

Other Garden Spade Materials

Although metal is the most common garden spade material, there are others that are uncommon and generally impossible to find. An example would be plastic. 

Usually, garden spades made of plastic are hard to come by because they’re not very popular. So if you’re looking for a decent garden spade that’s not made of metal, you’ll likely be out of luck.

When you go to any garden store, the most common garden spade materials will be stainless steel and carbon steel.

Advantages of High-Carbon Steel as a Garden Spade Material

Now that you know high-carbon steel is the best metal for garden spades, you might be considering buying one made of this material. But to get an even better idea of why it’s the best material, you should learn more about the main advantages. Let’s discuss them below:

High-Carbon Steel Is Stronger Than Other Types of Steel

High-carbon steel is more robust than other types of steel because it is mixed with carbon. Carbon increases the durability of the metal, making it a popular material for garden spades and many other garden tools. 

There are other types of metal, such as low and medium carbon steel. Although these types may be more robust than stainless steel, they aren’t as strong as high-carbon steel because they contain less carbon.

However, one slight downside to high-carbon steel is that it can’t be welded as easily as steel with lower carbon. Of course, this doesn’t matter much when it comes to garden spades because once the spade is made, you won’t need to alter or weld it!

High-Carbon Is Cheaper Than Stainless Steel

Another vital thing to consider is affordability. Due to the processes involved with making stainless steel, manufacturing stainless steel is more expensive than high-carbon steel. In turn, this can cause the price of stainless steel garden spades to be higher than the price of carbon steel spades.

High-Carbon Spades Retain Their Shapes

High-carbon steel garden spades maintain their shapes, even over long periods. Many people can use their carbon steel garden spades for years without noticing any significant degradation, which is a huge advantage. 

So no matter how much digging you do, a carbon spade will get the job done each time and remain strong throughout its lifetime. 

Carbon Steel vs. Stainless Steel Garden Spades

Although carbon steel garden spades are stronger than stainless steel ones, there are also some disadvantages. The main one is that carbon steel is harder to clean and maintain. 

This is because stainless steel contains chromium, preventing staining and rusting. Since carbon steel doesn’t contain chromium, it’s more susceptible to rust and harboring dirt. 

Other metals that are less susceptible to rusting include:

  • Galvanized steel
  • Copper
  • Bronze

Although it’s not common to find garden spades made of these metals, some garden tools are. 

Why Are Most Garden Tools Made From Metal?

Most garden tools are made from metal because metal is stronger than other common tool materials like plastic or wood. Since metal is stronger, it’s also more long-lasting and works out as better value for money in the long run.

Durability is just one reason why most garden tools are made from metal. Generally, metal is easier to clean (primarily stainless steel), and it’s much more difficult for mold to grow on it because it’s nonporous. 

Although most garden tools are made from metal, many have different materials on the handles. For example, many garden spades have wooden handles instead of metal ones. This is because wood is easier to grip and doesn’t experience as much vibration as a metal handle. 

If a tool has a metal handle, it might slip out of your hand easier due to sweat, for example. Even if you wear gloves, metal is more likely to fall out of your hands than wood because of how smooth it is.

Therefore, it’s common to see a metal and wood combination in garden spades and many other garden tools.

When Is Wood a Good Material for a Garden Tool?

Wood is a good material for a garden tool when used as a handle material. It’s not good to use a garden tool made entirely of wood because it won’t be very durable, and it won’t be easy to clean and dry. 

For most tasks, a metal material is best because it gets the job done easier without you needing to put much body effort into the movement. Since wood is much weaker than metal, you’ll need to use more energy to dig and undertake other gardening tasks.

Also, unfinished wood is porous and therefore highly susceptible to mold, especially if you use it in wet soil. Of course, you could prevent this by oiling your wooden tools (and you should oil all wooden handles). But it’s still better to use metal tools.

However, it’s important to note one benefit of wooden garden tools—they’re generally more eco-friendly than steel tools. According to a study by the University of Massachusetts Amherst, making steel is much less eco-friendly than making wood products. 

Although this study was focused more on wood and steel as building materials, you can draw the same conclusions for gardening tools. 


Garden spades are made from metal because metal is a strong and long-lasting material, perfect for digging and other high-impact activities. The two most common types of metal used for garden spades are stainless steel and carbon steel.

While stainless steel is easier to clean and less susceptible to rusting, carbon steel is more durable (but rusts more easily). 

Although most garden spades are made from metal, many have wooden handles because wood is easier to grip and handle. 

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of TheGrowingLeaf.com, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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