Handy Home Excavation Tools and Equipment

A savvy homeowner should have the skills and tools to tackle simple excavation duties. You don’t always have to pay someone to do basic digging tasks when you can get your hands dirty and save some dollars.

At one point or another, you’ll need to excavate soil— and this job is easier done with the right tools. The market has several excavation tools and equipment, each designed to ease the excavation process.

Tools are available, from modest hand equipment to complex machines depending on your area’s topography or excavation depth.

But today, we aren’t focusing on complex machines needed for massive extraction work. Instead, we’ll discuss a few handy tools that can prove helpful for jobs like doing away with tree roots, plunks, and organic impurities, etc., which can ruin your landscape’s beauty or eat up your space.

Plus, it’s crucial to accomplish all the prerequisites before embarking on your home digging project. For instance, you should dial 811 before digging anywhere to avoid tampering with any buried utility lines.

And while it sounds simple, most homeowners hardly do so, and many times the result is injury, death, or long-term outages due to damaged utility lines.

That being said, let’s focus on nine handy tools to store at home for DIY garden projects.

9 Homeowner Excavation Tools and Equipment

Digging can mean anything, from shallow holes to deep ones that need more work and tougher tools. Below are some of the most common excavation tools for a home DIY project.


A Spade is a thin metal plate with sharp edges firmly attached to a long handle, most times made of wood. The relatively sharp edges allow it to dig into soil easily. But the plate in a spade has less curvature, which makes it not appropriate for scooping and lifting ground.


For scooping and lifting purposes, you will need to go for a Shovel. It also looks more or less like a spade. There’s only a slight difference in the curvature of their edges.

The metal plate for a shovel is more curved compared to that of a spade, which eases the process of holding and lifting soil. You can also use such excavation tools and equipment for basic digging purposes in areas with soft or loose soils like sand.

3-Pick Axe

The pickaxe is made of a hard metal spike fixed perpendicularly to a wooden handle. It is used for digging out small trenches in the soil.

You certainly need to have one of these as a solution to cutting into hard or rocky soil areas. For complete functionality, the spike is sharp on one side and wide on the other end.


A Hoe is one of the most common excavation tools and equipment. It is made of a metal plate fixed to a long handle at an acute angle. The metallic plate has sharp edges to ensure it digs into the soil with less effort. It is essential for most home excavating tasks.

Sometimes, depending on your area or type of job, you can replace the metal plate with a fork-type plate


Talk of simple hand tools and a trowel is one thing that comes to mind.

You can’t expect it to do much with its small size. But carry it to your backyard garden for some digging tasks, and you’ll discover how much this hand-size tool can do for you. It is generally meant to help in digging small trenches or removing shallow roots from the soil.


A rake is an excavating/landscaping tool with a horizontal rod that ends in several metallic teeth. Its primary function is to remove, level up, or gather small layers of soil. The teeth are spaced wide enough to simplify the raking process.

7-Edging Spade

An edging spade is a flat-bladed tool you can use to dig around the home. It helps in edging the lawn, scraping soil, and cutting roots.

It is handy for shallow digging and general garden planting or implanting small vegetation with roots. Just like the shovel, it has a D-type handle to ensure perfect control.

It also has a rubber pad to reduce fatigue and the wearing of shoes.

8- Digging Fork

Also known as the garden or spade fork, a digging fork is a handy tool for scattering compacted soil and dividing shallow trenches.

It also has a D-shaped handle for excellent usability even in squeezed spaces. The digging fork also has tapered edges to cut into the soil much more effortlessly.


A wheelbarrow is not a digging tool, but you’ll sure need it when buying excavation tools and equipment. It makes it easier to carry and move soil, wood, compost, and pretty much anything from one location to another.

You can either go for the standard wheelbarrow or consider the two-wheel design if you’re after something stabler.

With the above tools, you can complete all home digging projects or excavating tasks alone. It’s advisable to keep your tools around just in case they need to use them arises. So if possible, buy the ones you think you need most and spare some space for them in your garage.

Safety Precautions for Home Digging Projects: Call 811 Before You Excavate

Every time you organize a digging project, remember to consider these safety tips. It is not okay to begin an excavation project blindly; you can damage underground utilities in your surroundings or risk getting injured.

Before digging, Dial 811 to avoid ruining and damaging public utilities like water and gas pipes. This call will give access to a specialist locator who’ll trace the lines around your home and help you begin digging safely.

811 is a free-of-charge service but doesn’t cover private utilities, so you must hire a private firm. But while dialing 811 sounds easy, studies show it isn’t as simple as that; almost half of all households don’t make the call, and an underground utility line is ruined every 6 minutes, according to the Common Ground Alliance.

Image Alt Tag: Safety Precautions for Home Digging Projects

So whether you are adding a fence or planting vegetation, call 811 before using excavation tools and equipment to avoid further outages, injuries and damages resulting from tampering with buried utility lines.

According to Andrew Martinez, VP of Safety, Security & Business Resiliency at Southern California Edison, “no matter how trivial the digging project is, damaging utility lines accidentally can harm you and everybody around you,”

“House-owners must call 811 to understand the placement of nearby underground utility lines. This can help prevent deadly injuries and service outages,” he says.

To get ready for the free markings, property owners should start by marking the area to be excavated with white chalk, paint, or any other material, such as flour. When it’s 2 to 3 days to the project, call 811 to confirm for any buried utility lines within the marked area.

Below are some extra safety tips for you home digging projects:

  • Plan early by dialing 811 on Monday or Tuesday if you plan to dig during weekends.
  • If you hire a contractor to excavate, do a follow-up to confirm whether they’ve indeed dialed 811. Get to work only after an inspection.
  • Move to another location if your place of choice will tamper with utility lines.
  • Any hand excavation tools and equipment should be used to dig 18-24 inches of the edge of buried utilities, and markings should remain in place until you conclude the project.
  • For visible utility lines, dig a hole parallel to the utility line and utilize all safety measures when removing soil from around the utility line.
  • Dial 911 if you tamper with a utility line during the project

More Safety Consideration When Digging at Home

  • Use the right excavation tools and equipment, depending on the depth of the hole or form of excavation you’re doing. If you’re working very close to a buried utility line, manipulate your equipment carefully to avoid damages and ensure the line remains beneath the ground even after the digging is done.
  • Never move a buried utility line. Don’t try to move the line or wires from one place to another. The law only allows you to dig around or evade any utility lines as you excavate. Moving the utility lines is a job left only for experts.

The Takeaway

With the right excavation tools and equipment, it is easy to dig or accomplish garden projects at home. Still, you must plan adequately to avoid ruining any buried utility lines. Plan within the week, say Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, if you schedule the project for the weekend.

Lastly, acquire the best equipment for the job at hand, and follow all safety practices when digging to avoid injuries.