You do not need a vast number of garden tools to garden successfully, but a good garden hoe is one thing that can really come in handy.
When looking for a hoe, it is easy to get bogged down in looking at things like the shape of the blade, the angle of the blade, or the length of the handle.
But when it comes right down to it, with all the different types of hoe there are out there, the things that really matter are quality and longevity. All hoes can be very useful. But it is how long a hoe will be useful for that really counts.
Here are some of the UK’s best garden hoes for shaping, clearing and harvesting. Whatever you use them for in your garden, these are garden tools that should stand the test of time. And better yet, their wooden handles will be easy to replace when they do finally bite the dust. If you can’t find an old traditional hoe to upcycle, then these new hoes could be the next best option.
Last update on 2021-04-22 / All Pricing & Imagery from Amazon Product Advertising API
Here’s more on our favourite options:
An Excellent, Simple Dutch Style Hoe
A Dutch hoe is a type of scuffle hoe designed to be pushed or pulled through the soil. The goal is to cut off the roots of weeds just beneath the soil surface. This is one of the most useful hoes, as it can be dragged or pushed, and has a sharp edge on both sides to cut either backwards or forwards.
Weeds in an organic garden are best managed little and often. And a bit of casual weeding with a Dutch hoe like this one allows you to chop and drop the weeds on the soil surface. Chopping and dropping is an important part of a ‘no dig’ gardening approach.
The no-dig approach advocates minimising soil disturbance as much as possible – to let the ecosystem below the groundwork as it should. In a no-dig garden, you may well find that a hoe like this one is even more useful than a spade and fork. You can chop and drop weeds or green manures to return the nutrients they contain to the system.
This one in particular is fantastically simple, with a mirror polished stainless steel head and a solid hardwood shaft that has been weather proofed for durability. This and other items from the Spear and Jackson range have won the British Growing Awards. We like this one in particular for its wooden handle. Unlike a plastic handle, it won’t cause a waste problem at the end of its useful life. And unlike a metal handle, it can easily be replaced when, likely a long time into the future, the first one breaks.
- Mirror polished stainless steel head which won’t rust and keeps soil adhesion to a minimum.
- Weatherproofed hardwood handle for durability, eco-friendliness and longevity.
- Hardwood handles also give a traditional look, feel nice, and are not as cold on the hands.
- Useful for Dutch hoe weeding and chopping and dropping, not for other jobs for which other types of hoe may be needed.
- A long-handled hoe so you have to stand up to use it. Not suitable for close up hand hoeing.
Hand Hoe That Is Easy To Use For Close Up Weeding
If you only have a small garden, or a few raised beds, you might not need a long-handled hoe to deal with the weeds in your garden. This type of smaller, hand-held hoe could be ideal for your weeding needs. It is small enough to get in between close set plants, and sharp enough to cut through weed roots and root up stubborn weeds with ease. Even people with weaker hands or mobility issues often find that a hoe of this design is easy for them to use.
We like this particular example because it is extremely lightweight and yet durable. It has a high quality stainless steel blade and a handcrafted handle made from FSC approved ash wood, tapered for a pleasing and tactile hand fit. This is a tool built to last, and better yet, comes with a 15 year guarantee. All of that, plus a competitive price means this is our top pick.
- High quality stainless steel blade that won’t rust and draws through soil effectively.
- The sharp blade has been designed to chop, slice or scrape through vegetative growth.
- High quality, hand-crafted FSC approved ash wood handle.
- 15 year guarantee.
- Light and easy to use for hand-weeding and tending your beds or borders.
- Only suitable for small scale weeding by hand.
- It could be back-breaking work to use a small hand tool like this for bigger jobs.
Sturdy Digging Hoe for Heavy Duty Use
Some jobs for which you might need a hoe require something designed to really get through the soil and tough plant roots. If you need a hoe to cut through thick, woody roots, or thick turf, or to work on trenching or other earthworks projects, this could be a useful tool for you.
In a no dig garden, as mentioned above, you will usually try to disturb the soil as little as possible. We recommend that you take this approach in your organic garden. But there will still be times, even in a no dig garden, when you do need to disturb the soil.
For example, you may need to clear an overgrown site to create a new garden growing area. You might need to create earthworks like swales to manage water in your garden more effectively. This hoe provides an easier way to clean up an overgrown garden or work on earthworks projects than digging with a spade.
For jobs like this, this sort of hoe might be handy, and this is a good example of the type.
The hardened and tempered steel head means that this wooden handled tool can make light work of more challenging weeds and allow you to take on a wider range of jobs in your garden. This hoe is well-balanced and sturdy.
- Hardened and tempered steel head.
- Wooden handle.
- Great at chopping through soil, thick roots etc. and tackling a range of garden jobs.
- Long handle, which is great for taller people but with which some shorter people may struggle.
- Relatively heavy, so harder to handle for some.
Classic Draw Hoe With Good Balance
This is another of the excellent traditional hoes you could choose from. Like the above, it can be a good choice for those who need to clear a site that has become overgrown, or which is particularly full of tougher weeds. This is a style of tool that has changed little since the times of the Romans – with good reason. It is a design that works for a range of garden jobs.
You can use this hoe to cut through a range of weeds relatively quickly and easily, and can also find other ways to use it too. For example, if you are making a new hedgerow or planting some trees in your garden this winter, using one of these will make the planting quicker and easier.
This particular example has a sturdy head, and a 120cm long wooden handle. One benefit of a wooden handle highlighted on the information for this product is that it helps to dampen vibrations, so you can tend your garden for longer without pain or fatigue in your wrists and arms. This hoe has been ergonomically crafted for optimal weight balance, so you get a smooth and powerful swing each time.
- Sturdy head and hardwood handle.
- Good weight and balance.
- Not as heavy as some traditional draw hoes, but with sufficient weight to work.
- Like other full sized draw hoes this may not be the best choice for smaller gardens.
- Large size draw hoes like this may be a challenge for some gardeners to handle.
Great Full-Sized Grubbing Hoe
If you need a sturdy grubbing or azada hoe then this is another excellent choice. Using one of these for digging trenches or removing roots or stubborn weeds really can be so much easier than trying to dig with a spade.
A grubbing hoe is another name for a digging hoe. While in a no dig garden, you will not need to use one of these to till the soil, you may still wish to move turf or soil on occasion. As mentioned above, you might be clearing an overgrown site, or making trenches or swales. You might be making holes to plant trees, or removing grass/ weeds to make new pathways. You might also be undertaking a larger project such as creating a wildlife pond. Using a grub hoe rather than a spade can make such projects less back-breaking work.
This particular example is a sturdy one, built to last. It has a head that is 190mm wide and 240mm deep, and a strong handle 1200mm in length. The handle is made from solid hardwood and the head is forged and super strong. This combines many of the best attributes of a hoe with many of the useful properties of a spade.
- Strong, forged head that will dent rather than breaking.
- High quality solid hardwood handle that should last.
- Makes light work of cutting through and moving most soils.
- Rather heavy and may be difficult for some to manage.
- Comes in two pieces to assembly is required.
How To Use A Garden Hoe
There are several different types of garden hoe and, as you can tell from the above, there are also a number of different ways to use them in your garden.
The main types useful to most home gardeners are:
- Scuffle hoes (Dutch hoes, hoop hoes, swoe hoes etc..)
- Draw hoes (also known as digging hoes, grub hoes, azada hoes etc..)
- Small hand-held-short handled versions of the types above.
A scuffle hoe is designed to be pushed or pulled through the soil to cut roots just below the surface. To use one, you will hold and handle and push the handle to move the blade forwards, forcing it below the soil surface and maintaining it at a shallow depth by changing the angle of the handle while pushing, then pulling back towards yourself.
A draw hoe is a somewhat different type of tool and is used in a different way. Though it can also get rid of weeds, it is primarily used to dig and move soil or chop through turf. It can also be used to dig trenches or undertake other earthworks.
Putting one hand at the end of the handle and the other 1/3 of the way down, you will grip the handle with your thumbs facing towards the head. You will then raise the hoe to around hip height and allow its weight to fall and chop down into the ground. You will then pull the slice of soil back towards you. You will then continue to use this chopping and pulling action to clear the ground or work the earth ahead of you.
Using a hoe could not be easier – as long as you choose the right hoe for you.
A permaculture garden designer, sustainability consultant and freelance writer, Elizabeth works as an advocate for positive change. She aims to inspire others to reconnect with nature and live in a more eco-friendly way. She also tries to practice what she preaches as she tends her own forest garden, polyculture beds and polytunnel. See her personal website here.