Every avid gardener has his or her favorite garden tool. It might be something that they made themselves to tackle a particular job or was handed down or is new and improved. Mine is the hori hori garden knife. Garden knife uses are many and myriad. Keep reading to find out when and how to use a garden knife.
What is a Garden Knife?
A garden knife is simplicity itself. It’s just a blade and a handle with no moving parts. Don’t let this simplicity fool you. I find it absolutely invaluable and use it every single time I’m in the garden. A hori hori garden knife, which is most popular, is a digging tool (and so much more!) that originated in Japan. The name stems from the Japanese word ‘hori,’ which means to dig and when doubled, ‘hori hori’ refers to the sound of digging in spoken Japanese. The blade is serrated, useful for sawing through roots, tubers, and dense soils and is between 11 and 15 inches (28-38 cm.) in length. The knife is lightweight and ergonomic, important for those marathon gardening days. There are several types available made of either stainless or carbon steel. Although a bit more expensive, the lighter weight carbon steel knives with wood handles are quite frankly worth a little extra money. After all, the Japanese have centuries of sword forging experience that is evident in even this small tool. That said, there are also stainless-steel brands with plastic handles. If you are one of those people, like myself, that tend to do something like lose gardening tools in the yard waste bin, I would suggest buying the less expensive version, which will work just as well. In other words, just an average garden knife will suffice.
How and When to Use a Garden Knife
As I said, I use my hori hori pretty much on a daily basis. It is an invaluable tool for weeding, transplanting, cutting sod, and dividing plants. Some garden knives have a ruler etched into the steel that is useful for measuring depths when planting bulbs or seeds. The tip of the blade is great for drawing lines into the soil for planting gauges. The knife can be used to help you mark rows as well. Wrap a line around the knife and jam it into the soil and then pull the line to where you want it. It’s great for digging weeds out of narrow spaces such as between pavers. The serrated blade is indispensable for cutting through roots and is especially helpful when loosening up root bound plants or dividing perennials. There are so many garden knife uses it would take pages to name them all. Just go out and get yourself one and I guarantee you’ll be wondering how on earth you’ve been doing without for so long.
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Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.