The right choice of tool in the garden can make a big difference. A hoe is used to dislodge weeds or for cultivating the garden, stirring up and mounding the soil. It’s an important tool for any serious gardener, but did you know that there are multiple types of garden hoes? Some are better for specific jobs, like weeding, while others are designed for bigger or smaller spaces. Choose the right hoe for the job and both the garden and your muscles will thank you.
Types of Garden Hoes
All hoes have the same basic structure and purpose: a long handle with a paddle, blade, or stirrup at the end, typically at an angle to the handle. The uses for hoes are to cultivate garden soil and to remove weeds. Even with this basic design there are a few variations, and using hoes in the garden successfully means choosing the right one: Paddle, or Draw, hoe. The basic garden hoe goes by many names, including paddle, draw, chopping, or planter. The paddle at the end of the handle is a small rectangle, approximately 6 by 4 inches (15 x 10 cm.), angled at 90 degrees. This is a good general hoe that can help you dislodge weeds by the root or mound and shape soil. You can find versions of this with smaller paddles for tight spaces and in lighter weights. If you aren’t sure how to use a hoe that is more specialized, this is a good place to start. Stirrup hoe. Also known as a shuffle or loop hoe, this hoe has an attachment that looks like the stirrup on a saddle. While the paddle hoe is usually used by pulling it back or making a chopping motion, you can use the stirrup with a back-and-forth motion that really helps to dig out stubborn weeds without displacing a lot of soil. Collinear, or Onion, hoe. The paddle or blade on this type of hoe is long and thin, often about 7 by 1 inch (18 x 2.5 cm.). This hoe is designed to weed in narrow spaces and the blade rides parallel to the surface of the soil. Due to the angle of the blade, you can use it without bending over, which is great for the back. Warren, or Dutch, hoe. This hoe has a flat blade or paddle, attached at a 90-degree angle, but unlike the basic paddle hoe, the shape is a triangle or spade. The pointy part faces out and is used to get into tight spaces or to dig out difficult weeds. In addition to the above types of garden hoes, you can also find a hoe with a shorter handle. These are great to have if you prefer to garden while kneeling or sitting. Keep all the different garden hoes in mind as you plant your garden. Depending on the type you have or plan to get, you can space your vegetables to ensure the hoe will fit between them. This will make the chore of weeding a lot faster and easier.
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Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.