A Garden Hoe is about the most basic and probably the most useful gardening tool you will own
OF ALL THE GARDEN TOOLS you are ever likely to buy, the simple garden hoe is probably going to be the most basic and yet one of the most useful. Buying the right one for the job will cut down on the amount of effort one needs for those tough, physical jobs.. Buying the wrong one can lead to a lot of extra, unnecessary hard work and effort, while often not letting you achieve the results you were after.
But like many garden tools, there is an array of different brands and styles on the market. Making finding the right one can be a bit challenging. Don't believe me? Take a good look in my garden shed at the various hoes I have tried out.
Truly, there is nothing difficult about the garden hoe. The basic hoe consists of a blade and a handle, nothing more, nothing less. The only true variances are the design of the blade, how it is mounted to the handle and the type of handle.
The blade is the most important part of any garden hoe. If the one you choose has a dull blade or one that won't keep an edge, you are wasting your time. A good garden hoe should have a blade that:
Is made from high-quality steel
Will hold an edge for cutting into the ground and cutting weeds
Wont bend easily
Will not rust away in a matter of years
Is shaped to make the task you have in mind as easy as possible
A good garden hoe should have a handle that is comfortable and easy to hold onto. They come in aluminum, fiberglass, and wood. Hardwood doesn't not have a lot of flex, making it a good choice (and the most popular) for chopping out weeds. Fiberglass may be lighter, but it tends to have more flex, making it harder to use. Those few with aluminum handles tend to bend when subjected to heavy chopping actions. A good hoe handle should:
Flex slightly to absorb the shock of being used with a chopping motion
Be long enough to be comfortable for you to use
Have a finish that protects it from the elements
Be bolted or riveted to the head
No one could blame you for thinking all garden hoes are the same. However, there are several different styles, including variations on the traditional design that you might find makes your job a bit easier. The type of hoe you choose should be based on the type of work you plan to use it.
This style of garden hoe can be found in use all over Europe, Asia, and Africa. The thick upright blade is made to cut through unbroken soil and for heavy-duty weeding chores. They tend to be rather heavy and have a short handle that forces you to bend over or stoop to use them. Most have a hardwood handle because this type of handle is hard to break. There are a few out there with fiberglass handles, but you may find the added flex overshadows the lower weight.
This type of hoe has a blade that is sharpened on both edges so that it can cut into the dirt and weeds whether you are pushing it or pulling on it. This style is considered to one of the most efficient and best garden hoes on the market today.
The one pictured above is often referred to as a stirrup hoe because it looks just like the stirrup on a horse saddle. The newer versions have the blade mounted on a pivot so that you don't have to change the angle of cut manually for the best results.
The draw hoe may, in fact, be the most well-known and common form of garden hoe on the market. Of all the different designs, the "American Pattern" hoe is the single most common.
This hoe features a blade that measures 6 inches wide by five inches deep, making it ideal for a wide range of tasks out in the garden. Some have the blade angled slightly back to make cutting into the ground and chopping off weeds a little easier.
Image courtesy of Daphman.Com
Simply put, this type of garden hoe has a sharp edge on the front of the blade that lets you cut weeds off by pushing the hoe in front of you. Here in the U.S., the most common sizes are a six or seven-inch wide blade. These hoes are made for cutting down weeds, they are not for chopping into the soil or even trying to loosen the soil. But, if your garden is already planted and the soil is not too packed, they can come in handy when you need to take care of the weeding.
Okay, so I am going to do something a little different here. Instead of simply picking out five of the best garden hoes I could find without regard to cost, I am going to show you the best ones at specific price levels. Should be fun and will also help you to see what's really out there.
When it comes to the cheapest garden hoes, you will find the only ones worth looking at are the short handled ones made for getting down on your knees and working around your plants.
This little garden hoe features a high-grade carbon steel blade that has been powder-coated for maximum corrosion protection. The strong bend-proof handle lets you chop into compacted soil easily and makes it much easier to work in rocky soil. It features a super soft PVC handle that will absorb the shock of chopping into hard ground and the ergonomic grip will help to relieve some of the strain to your hand.
|Ergonomic PVC grip for comfort and control||Grip has to be rotated 180° for it to be right|
|Non-bending handle for hard chopping||Blade bends|
|High-grade carbon steel blade||Blade is dull but can be sharpened|
This hoe starts out with a 6-onch wide head made from flat-forged steel that has a serrated edge for faster weed cutting. Add to this a hardwood handle that measures a full 54-inches long and features a cushioned grip that cuts down on fatigue and gives you a good grip. It is perfect for chopping into compacted soil and cutting down tough weeds.
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|Hardwood handle||May not cut deep into soil|
|Flat forged steel head for added strength||Head connecting shaft may bend|
|Serrated cutting edge for faster weeding||Forged steel is subject to rust|
The last thing anyone wants to do is lose their garden hoe in the dark recesses of the garden shed (can't tell you how many times I have done this). This garden hoe from Bully Tools has a bright red fiberglass handle that is made from commercial grade fiberglass to last a lifetime. The head is made from extra-thick 12-gauge steel for added strength. To ensure the handle remains attached to head, this hoe features an extended steel ferrule.
|12-gauge steel head||72-inch long handle might not be good for shorter people|
|Commercial grade fiberglass handle||This hoe is heavy|
|Bright red color makes it easy to find||Blade must be sharpened before use|
While you may not be able to sink your next put with this oddly shaped 7-inch wide hoe, you can definitely move some dirt. As you can see in the image, all three sides of the blade are sharpened, making it much easier to break open new ground or turn the dirt over in between your rows. This hoe features a solid ash handle that is 54-inches long and offers exceptional balance. The thin head comes with a lifetime warranty.
|Thin head is sharpened on three sides||Could use a heavier head for better groundbreaking|
|Long-lasting ash handle||One of the more expensive hoes on the market|
|Balanced for superior comfort||Edges tend to dull easily but can be sharpened|
If you are looking to add a scuffle hoe to your tool inventory, this one from Rogue might be just what the garden doctor ordered. All three sides are super sharp to help cut through the soil and weeds with the greatest of ease. The blade is made from high-grade tempered steel to ensure it keeps an edge for a very long time. The 54-inch hardwood handle creates a perfect balance for ease of handling when pushing or pulling this hoe.
|Three ultra-sharp edges||Handles tend to be a bit on the rough side|
|Cuts when pushing or pulling||Will spoil you for using any other type of hoe|
|Perfectly balanced hardwood handle||Edge may dull|
This garden hoe from Prohoe Rogue may be the best all-around hoe you can buy for the money, You can push it, pull it, use it to dig, and more. The heavy gauge steel blade is sharpened on all three sides to make weeding and digging easy. The extra-long 60-inch handle gives you more leverage and room to reach deeper in between the plants to where the weeds are hiding. The three-prong design at the back lets you rake up the weeds and any other garbage in your garden.
|Can be pulled or pushed and used for digging||Blade may dull|
|Extra-long hardwood handle for added strength||Not for large grassy areas or wide trails|
|Head comes with a lifetime warranty||Sharp edge can make safe storage challenging|
Okay so if spending a few hours in the garden with your trusty hoe doesn't sound like much fun, try this instead.
This propane powered backpack weed burner comes complete with its own 10 lb. tank and is ready to light and go once you fill the tank. Not only can you use this unit to take care of those pesky weeds out in your garden, you can also use it to thaw frozen pipes, melt snow and ice, and strip paint. It really can do all of this and more.
|Burns everything in its path||Burns everything in its path|
|Multiple uses beyond weeds||May burn your plants if you are not very careful|
|Easy to use||Not for use in crowded gardens|
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