10 Tools for Digging in Tight Spaces (Read This First!)

When it comes to digging in tight spaces, you can’t go wrong with digging through a gardening arsenal of essential tools beforehand. Having the right tools onsite is crucial to making the tiresome task of digging as easy as possible. Do keep in mind, though, that you’ll need much more than a shovel and spade when digging in tight spaces, especially when digging in different types of soil and using different types of digging methods.

Gardening, carpentry, plumbing, and electrical work often require digging holes. For gardening, digging the right size and shape of hole plays a vital role in the livelihood of your plants’ growth. It’s also worth noting that garden beds tend to produce great results when gardening with deep holes. For carpentry and plumbing, digging the right size holes and trenches can be the difference between frozen plumbing and electrical lines.

No doubt about it, digging is a chore, so make the job as easy as possible with the right digging tools. You can always dig a test hole first to ensure you’re using the right tools for the job. You may find a hole you thought could be dug with a spade is actually going to require something more along the lines of a planting auger or power tiller. For now, let’s take a look at the top 10 tools for digging in tight spaces.


You can’t go wrong by digging with a shovel. They come in a variety of sizes, making them especially of value when digging in tight spaces. You can use them to dig through various types of soil, and they are excellent tools for different types of jobs like gardening, digging trenches for plumbing lines, and more. As far as digging in the ground, a shovel tends to be the most common tool.

Traditional shovels are commonly used to dig in the dirt. These shovels tend to feature a pointed blade design to help make it easier on you when digging through hard soil. The rounded part of the shovel head that extends toward you and is connected to the shovel hand is perfect for stepping on, making it easier to add force to the shovel head and break through hard soil. Essentially, a shovel is a staple tool that every gardener, construction worker, and person wanting to dig should keep with their digging tools.

When choosing a shovel to dig with, it’s pertinent to ensure the head is securely attached to the hand of the tool. You should think about the soil you’re going to dig through as well as how tight of a space it is. The tighter the space, the smaller the shovel head you’ll need to use. However, you also need to consider how heavy the soil will be when digging. You want to make sure the shovel head and hand can withstand the weight of the soil. For most everyday digging tasks and general gardening jobs, a standard shovel will work.

If you’re really short or tall, you may have to buy a shovel with a longer or shorter stick hand. The goal is to be able to use the shovel as easily as possible, so make sure to check a few different lengths out when shopping for one. Taking time to find a shovel that you can work comfortably with is key to the success of your digging adventures.


The spade is another typical gardening tool found in most people’s set of digging tools. Spades are excellent for digging small holes in the tightest of spaces. And while the holes themselves may be quite small in their circumference, it’s important to know that spades are excellent tools for digging deep, which is particularly of value when planting bulbs in a garden.

There are a number of digging jobs you can handle with the right spade. This digging tool is available in many shapes and sizes, so always make sure you’re using the right type for the digging job you’re doing. Also, keep in mind that you’ll need high-quality spades to keep your digging jobs as easy as possible. Some spades come with long handles, which are ideal if you can dig standing up. Spades with long handles make it super easy to dig small holes in the tightest of spaces without having to get on your knees.

Your personal preferences will largely impact the best spades for you to use when digging. Some people really enjoy using the spades with longer handles while others would rather be on their knees digging the holes using a spade with a short handle.


A lot of people mistaken pickaxes and mattocks for each other. They do look a lot alike, and the shape of the latter is very much the same as that of a pickax. There are a couple types of mattocks, such as those that feature an ax blade along with a pick; these types are referred to as pick mattocks. When a mattock has an adze on it, it’s generally called a cutter mattock.

A mattock is an agricultural tool that’s perfect for digging and cutting in tight spaces. A lot of people use mattocks when cutting or digging away weeds or when digging in the dirt to plant seeds. Because of its versatility, mattocks are another staple digging tool that everyone should have in their tool shed.

If you live in a place with hard soil and you need to do some digging, you’ll definitely want to see if a mattock can be of help. Before you buy one, though, make sure to consider what you’re going to use it for. The best ones tend to be those with a fiberglass handle as it makes it easier and more comfortable to grip and swing. Plus, a fiberglass handle helps absorb the shock of swinging it, meaning you won’t get as fatigued so quickly when digging with a mattock.

Digging Knife

When you think of digging, a digging knife probably isn’t the first thing to come to mind. But when you think about it, a knife is actually a really great digging tool. In some cases, a digging knife even proves of more use than a trowel. Why is this? Because a knife is flat, meaning you can easily use it to pry up embedded rocks. When buying a digging knife, make sure to get one with a curved handle. This makes it easier to get a good grip when using the tool.

Bypass Pruners

Pruners may not seem like a good digging tool, but in all actuality they are, and this is particularly true of small bypass pruners. Bypass pruners are meant to cut small branches one by one, but when used in soft soil, you can also use their scissor-like head to dig in the ground. They are perfect for digging small holes to plant seeds in, and thanks to their cutting capabilities, they are also ideal for removing weeds and pruning. How are bypass pruners different from scissors? They make cleaner cuts thanks to their blades that slide right by one another which is unlike the anvil types.

Just like most gardening and digging tools, you can go the cheap route with bypass pruners or the more expensive. It’s important, however, when shopping for a pair to buy ones that can be resharpened; this is to help ensure they will last a lifetime.

Power Tiller

When it comes to the more strenuous digging jobs, you may find yourself in need of a power tiller. Although not exactly the best for digging in the tightest of spaces, a power tiller is still of value when digging where a backhoe and other large digging tools can’t fit. Please understand that power tillers are really good for loosening top soil. They aren’t so much good for digging deep holes, though. They are, however, a great tool to have onhand when you need to break through hard top soil. You can break through the soil and then use another digging tool if you need to go deeper than what the power tiller will allow you to dig.

Power tillers come in a variety of brands, sizes and types. The electric models are particularly of advantage because they don’t require you to refill with gas, but the gas-powered versions are usually more powerful. Then again, the gas-powered ones are also the noisiest and can cause a small amount of pollution. Because of this reason alone, many people opt for electric-powered tillers. For most people, power tillers are easy to maneuver because they pull themselves forward on the back wheels as long as the person has a certain lever pressed. When letting go of the lever, the power tiller will stop pulling itself forward. These tillers make for an excellent way to aerate and turn over soil in a garden at a high speed, giving you an easy way to til a garden in a short amount of time.

Post Hole Digger

There’s a good chance you already have a post hole digger in your digging tool arsenal. Post hole diggers are especially of benefit when digging small holes for a fence. In fact, you an dig holes for posts with a shovel or other tool, but the post hole digger itself is specially designed for digging post holes, making it a go-to and must-have digging tool when digging in tight spaces. If you can’t get the post hole digger to go through a hard, top layer of soil, you can always use a power tiller to loosen the soil and then come behind it with your post hole digger.

Gardening Fork

A gardening fork is almost like a really tough rake. The handle is usually metal or wood with the forks being solid metal to make them very strong for breaking through even the hardest of top soil. Gardening forks are often used to aerate soil in gardens and are of particular benefit when working with rocky and hard surfaces. Because they are tall and skinny, gardening forks are another favorite when digging in tight spaces.

To dig with a gardening fork, all you have to do is first rake it across the soil you want to dig in. This helps break up the soil and makes it easier to dig. After raking it across the soil, you can then dig the tines of the fork into the soil. Depending on the exact gardening fork that you’re using, you may find it easier to dig with it while standing up or being on your knees.

Planting Auger

Another one of our favorite digging tools for digging in tight spaces is a planting auger. This tool is of immense value when you need to dig deep in a really tight spot. The auger itself can attach to a drill, making it easy to drill into the ground for several feet. This means you’ll need a standard drill to use with the auger, with the longer the drill bit, the deeper the hole you can dig. If you’re planting a garden and you need to dig a bunch of holes for planting bulbs, you can’t go wrong with using a planting auger.


Commonly referred to as a hand shovel, a trowel is a very small shovel with a very short handle. It is commonly a go-to digging tool when digging small holes in tight spaces. To use a trowel, however, you have to get on your knees or bend over; this is because the handle is so short on it. If you have mobility issues, you may want to steer clear of using a trowel, but for those who can bend over easily, this tool makes for an excellent way to dig small holes quickly in tight spaces.