Root Assassin shovel review Shovels & Spades

Root Assassin Shovel: Product Review

GPR Recommendation

Ease of Use
Final Thoughts

This unique shovel means business! Not only will it dig through root-infested soil, it'll even cut off branches that get in the way.

Overall Score 5

Available on Amazon

Buy It

Golden Shovel Award Winners 2014Updated 07/25/19

One look at the Root Assassin shovel’s saw-toothed blade, and you know this tool means business. Nevertheless, I was skeptical. All my life I’ve gardened in dense clay soil, and my current garden is on a rocky ridge where I deal with both clay and stones. I doubted even this aggressive-looking shovel would be up to the challenging task.

The video on the company’s website shows the shovel being used as a saw to cut through limbs as well as delving in the ground, cutting effortlessly through turf, and slicing through pesky roots with a single swipe. Again, I was skeptical. Would this shovel really work in the real world? Is this truly a “Super Shovel,” coming to the rescue of gardeners who battle with roots and rocks and difficult soil? Can it do all that and prune branches?

Root Assassin shovel digging

The Root Assassin shovel easily sinks into the ground, even through thick turf, with very little effort.

Specifications and Features

  • 16 double-edged sharp serrated teeth on each side of the blade
  • Commercial-grade carbon steel 14-gauge shaft and blade
  • Powder-coated
  • Forward turned-step for secure foot placement
  • Available in 2 styles: Original (48″ long with a D-grip handle) and Long-Handled (58″ long with a straight handle)
  • Weighs 4 pounds
pruning branches with Root Assassin

While slightly cumbersome to wield, the shovel did indeed saw through branches, even thick ones.

Pruning Branches

First I tried the Root Assassin as a saw to prune branches. While it was a little awkward to use a shovel to cut through wood, and it wasn’t as efficient as a bow saw, it did work. If you’re digging in the garden with your Root Assassin shovel and see a branch that needs trimming, you can deal with it right away, saving yourself a hike to the tool shed or garage to get another tool.

Penetrating Turf

digging thru roots with Root Assassin shovel

When you encounter a root, continue to dig and pull up against the intruding fibers. The shovel sliced through them with ease, making digging easy.

It was startling how easily The Root Assassin cut through turf, slicing through the thick mass of roots like a hot knife through soft butter. Clearly, this is the tool you want if you’re planting in grass. The pointed tip, designed to penetrate through tough soil, allows you to cut the perfect diameter holes for planting bulbs, such as crocus or spring star flowers (Ipheon), in the lawn and digging larger holes for trees or shrubs is a snap.

The pointed tip and the slight curve of the blade make the shovel unsuitable for edging, as it would be very difficult to cut a straight, sharp line.

On the flip side, this is a superb tool for cutting deep and narrow trenches. So, while the Root Assassin shovel can successfully multitask, it cannot – and should not be expected to – do everything.

Digging and Cutting Through Roots

long Root Assassin shovel

It would have been a little easier for me to dig with the Root Assassin if I were taller.

The Root Assassin also lived up to its claim as a root eater. We tackled a dead shrub that needed removing, so it didn’t take long to encounter roots of significant girth. A little sawing accompanied by continued digging, and each root was easily severed.

The shovel worked like a charm, making a potentially challenging job much, much easier.

Original vs Long-Handled Versions

handle on Root Assassin shovel

The padded handle is easy to grip and comfortable.

The original shovel stands 4 feet tall, while the long-handled one measures 58 inches.

The narrow, commercial-grade 14-gauge steel pointed blade represents at least 12” of the tool’s length.

At 5’3” tall, I found getting my foot firmly on the step in a position where I could put my weight and strength onto the blade for digging was a bit like climbing onto stilts – unless the shovel was partially buried in the hole, I couldn’t reach the foot rest. However, my 6’4″ tall husband had no problem whatsoever.

long-handled Root Assassin shovel in use

For taller people, the long-handled version is a good length and provides excellent leverage while digging.

On the original Root Assassin, the handgrip is comfortably wide, accommodating large or small hands, and is made of reinforced rubber that is both durable and slip-proof. The longer version has a foam sheath covering roughly half of the shaft, providing extra comfort and a non-slip surface in the area where you’re most likely to grip the shovel.

My 6’4″ husband really enjoyed using the long-handled shovel while I preferred the shorter version. He was able to use the long shovel like a digging bar, thrusting the shovel vertically into the soil. With the cutting edge teeth and the weight (the shovel is solidly built), he was able to make good digging headway with less hard work. The extra length made it a good lever, and because it’s so well constructed, he didn’t worry about bending it.

For me, the long-handled shovel was too long to use easily, especially using the foot rest to put my whole weight into the dig.

foot step on Root Assassin shovel

The manufacturers claim the step is angled, but I didn’t notice that. However, I’m sure it didn’t matter one way or the other.

The manufacturers claim the step is forward turned for secure foot placement, but I couldn’t see it. To my eye, it looked almost perfectly parallel to the ground if the shovel is held straight upright.


Root Assassin LLC stands by every product they sell. If for any reason you are not satisfied with your purchase, the company will replace any damaged free of charge for life.

The company can be reached online through their website at


Often hybrid tools end up doing neither job well. The Root Assassin is a happy exception. If you are digging a hole in a root-infested area, this is the perfect tool. While I would not pick up this tool simply to cut off a branch, if it’s in my hand when a branch for cutting presents itself, it will do the job effectively.

The Root Assassin Shovel lives up to its name, and to the claims made by the manufacturer. I highly recommend it.

Where to Buy

The Root Assassin shovel is available directly from the manufacturer or through Amazon.

Note that there are now several “knockoffs” on the market that are not sold by Root Assassin and do not carry the same warranty. The shovel design is patented so the copycats are illegal. Be sure you’re buying the real thing!

Root Assassin also makes a “mini” version of this serrated digging/cutting shovel (see our review).

Price Reduction
Root Assassin Shovel
This unique shovel means business! Perfect for digging in root-infested areas, it'll even cut off tree or shrub branches that get in the way. Sturdy, comfortable and easy to use.

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Last update on 2023-01-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Disclaimer – GPReview would like to thank Root Assassin for giving us a free sample to review. There was no expectation that it would be a positive review and we received no compensation for writing it. All opinions expressed here are those of the author based on personal experience using the product.

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