The sharp blade of a garden hoe is an indispensable gardening tool for slicing through weed roots and breaking up heavy dirt clods. When used regularly, a hoe keeps the garden free of weeds without the need to kneel and pull them by hand. This indispensable tool comes in various types and designs; choosing the best garden hoe requires selecting one that suits your physical needs and the type of soil you’ll be cultivating. Ahead, learn what to look for in a garden hoe and find out why the following seven are best for a variety of gardening tasks.
- BEST OVERALL: Corona GT 3244 Extended Reach Hoe
- BEST DRAW HOE: Bully Tools 92353 12-Gauge Garden Hoe
- BEST STIRRUP HOE: Flexrake Mini Hula-Ho
- BEST HEART-SHAPED HOE: Bully Tools 92354 12-Gauge Warren Hoe
- BEST FOR WEEDING: Nisaku NJP1010 Nejiri Gama Weeding Hoe
- BEST FOR HEAVY-DUTY WORK: Rogue Hoe 7 Inch Wide Blade Heavy Duty Cultivator
Types of Garden Hoes
Sometimes called “cultivators,” all hoes have a single purpose—to cut through soil, loosen it, and remove weeds. Not all hoes are identical, though, and their differences make them better suited to various gardening tasks and individual users. Some hoes work well only in soft, loose soil, while certain designs will work better for some gardeners than others.
When most people think of a garden hoe, the first thing that comes to mind is a draw hoe with a steel blade that sits at about a 45-degree angle to the handle. Called a draw hoe because the gardener chops and then draws the hoe inward, this tool offers an effective way of loosening soil and digging up weeds. Using a draw hoe can be a real workout if the ground is hard and roots are deep, but this is a time-honored tool found in most gardeners’ sheds.
Rather than chopping and pulling, the Dutch hoe is designed for pushing. It features a steel loop brace and a narrow horizontal blade. The gardener rests the blade on top of the ground and then pushes it forward, which causes the blade to slip just beneath the soil and severs weeds from their roots. As long as the soil is relatively soft, a Dutch hoe (also called a “loop” hoe) is an easy-to-use weeding tool. When using a draw-type hoe, the user is not required to bend forward as much, making it easier on the back.
A stirrup hoe, so called because it resembles an equestrian saddle stirrup, is used with a push-and-pull motion and features a flat or rounded bottom blade that’s sharp on both sides. The user pushes it back and forth to sever weed roots and to create straight lines in the soil for sowing seed. A stirrup hoe works well in soft to medium soils but is challenging to use if the soil is heavy or hard.
A heart-shaped hoe features a blade that’s wide at the top and narrows to a point at the tip, loosely resembling a heart. This type of blade is commonly found on both draw hoes and push hoes. The point of a heart-shaped blade concentrates soil-cutting pressure, so it’s physically easier to use. This makes it well suited for elderly gardeners or anyone who finds it challenging to hoe a garden. However, it might take slightly longer to complete the hoeing task because the tip is narrower than a flat hoe blade.
Spike Blade Hoe
For precision weeding in tight spots where a wide-blade garden hoe doesn’t fit, consider a spike blade hoe. Its knife-like blade allows the gardener to cut through deep invasive roots using powerful chops, but it is also precise enough to use with light chops when removing weeds from narrow areas, such as between plantings and the edge of a raised bed.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Garden Hoe
After selecting the best type of garden hoe for the job, check out additional considerations that make the hoe more comfortable to use or more durable.
A hoe is only as good as its handle, and the three most common types of handles all have their pros and cons. Handles range in length from an average of 4 to 6 feet to fit individual gardeners’ various heights and physical abilities.
- Wood: Soft and slightly vibration-absorbent, wood is a common material used in hoe handles. Made from a single rod of hardwood, often hickory, wood handles are comfortable and smooth. Note they should not be left out in the weather, as moisture can cause the wood grain to swell and become weak and splintery.
- Metal: Lightweight aluminum is the metal of choice for hoe handles, and this durable material is water resistant and corrosion resistant. Aluminum is also very rigid and does not absorb any vibration, so hoeing hard ground that requires repeated chops might result in hand, wrist, and elbow fatigue.
- Fiberglass: The relatively new kid on the block, fiberglass hoe handles are smooth, lightweight, rust resistant, moisture resistant, and absorb shock to some extent, making the material well suited for hoe handles.
- Cushioned grips: Made from padded rubber, silicone, or water-resistant neoprene, cushioned grips on many garden hoe handles go a long way toward making hoeing tasks more enjoyable.
Steel of one type or another is a mainstay of hoe blades, but different types of steel and various blade construction methods result in varying quality blades.
- Stainless steel: This type of steel is very rust- and corrosion-resistant. Hoe blades made from stainless steel are usually molded in a single piece rather than welded. It’s not quite as strong as other types of steel, however, and you can’t sharpen a stainless steel blade, so it’s best suited to light hoeing tasks.
- Tempered: A hoe blade made from tempered steel is stronger than one of stainless steel, and it can be sharpened if it dulls. It’s not as weather resistant, however, and is more likely to corrode. Tempered steel blades can be thin or thick, with heavy-duty hoe blades often featuring thick, tempered steel.
- Welded: Inexpensive hoe blades can come with several welded sections. This is a cost-effective way of making a hoe suitable for weeding soft soil, but a welded joint is a point of weakness, so a welded blade is not always the best option for hoeing hard-packed soil. That said, some heavy-duty garden hoes also come with welded blades, but those feature heavier-gauge steel that will withstand intense use.
A high-quality hoe will assist a gardener in digging and weeding for many years with just a modicum of care. The hoe type and features might affect how much maintenance it requires.
- Keep it clean. Hoeing often leaves mud and dirt caked on the blade, which increases the risk of rust and corrosion. Scrape away packed-on soil with a putty knife or use a steel brush to remove it before storing the hoe.
- Store it in a shed or garage. This is especially important if the hoe has a wood handle or a tempered steel blade, but it’s always best to store garden tools out of the elements. Over time, harsh UV rays from the sun can wreak havoc on fiberglass handles as well.
- Keep it sharp. If the hoe has a tempered or welded blade, sharpen it if you notice it’s not cutting through the soil and weed roots as well as it once did.
Our Top Picks
To qualify as a top pick, a gardening hoe should have a strong, durable blade and come with a handle that’s smooth and easy to grip. Soil type and physical needs vary, but one of the following garden hoes is sure to be a welcome addition to your gardening hand tools.
For general cultivation, soil aeration, and weeding, consider the Corona Extended Reach Hoe that features a rust-resistant blade on one side and a three-pronged fork on the other. The metal handle with ComfortGEL grip on this hoe offers ergonomic comfort while gardening as well as a measure of impact reduction. The hoe measures just 36 inches in length, making it slightly shorter than average and just right for chopping and hoeing by a petite gardener or even a tall gardener who wants to hoe an elevated garden bed. The versatile two-in-one blade and fork can enable users to properly cultivate and aerate their crops using the same tool.
- Comfortable handle
- Dual-purpose head
- Blade has no cutout to reduce drag
- Welded head is not heavy-duty
If you’re looking for a standard draw hoe, look no further than the Bully Tools Garden Hoe that comes with a lightweight fiberglass handle. With its thick 12-gauge steel blade, the Bully hoe will withstand powerful chopping and pulling action. The blade measures 6.5 inches wide and is 6.75 inches long, including the steel shaft that connects to the handle. The hoe itself is just under 65 inches long, making it well suited for average to tall gardeners looking for a hardworking, durable garden hoe.
- Wide cutting blade
- Extra long
- 100 percent American made
- Slightly heavier than others
From a century-old name in lawn and garden tools comes the Flexrake Mini Hula-Ho. It features a metal stirrup blade that cuts weeds by either pushing or pulling. The blade is sharp on both ends and also self-sharpening, reducing the physical effort required for weeding and cultivating in soft to medium soil. The 10-inch handle is made from durable hardwood and features a cushioned end grip for comfort and impact reduction. The Flexrake Mini Hula-Ho is an ideal handheld tool for small spaces.
- Great for hard-to-reach spaces
- Cuts forward and backward
- Self-sharpening blade
- Not ideal for extensive yard work
The point on the Bully Tools heart-shaped blade lets the gardener work with precision between narrow rows and around desirable plants. The blade features heavy-duty 12-gauge steel and measures 5 inches at the top but narrows to a small point at the tip, enabling it to work particularly well for weeding in tight spots. The handle is made from fiberglass and comes with a cushioned, nonslip grip at the end for comfort. This heart-shaped hoe is 56 inches long, which is suitable for most gardeners, and it’s built to last.
- Commercial-grade steel blade
- Built to last
- Excellent for weeding
- Nonslip grip
For removing both deep and shallow weeds, it’s tough to beat the Nisaku Nejiri Gama Weeding Hoe that features a strong spike blade made from rust-resistant stainless steel. This knife-like weeding hoe is used with traditional chop-and-draw motion. With its shorter, 45-inch long handle, this hoe also suits shorter or petite gardeners. Alternatively, it’s handy for taller gardeners who want to weed in a raised bed. The handle features polished hardwood for smoothness and comfort.
- Rust-resistant stainless steel head
- Sharp knife-like design
- Comfortable wooden handle
- Slightly shorter handle is better suited for raised bed gardening
Hard soil and heavy weeds are no match for the Rogue Heavy Duty Cultivator that comes with a sharpened 7-inch-wide, heavy-duty steel blade. The Rogue hoe will tackle tough gardening tasks, such as breaking out sod or loosening hard-packed soil. It measures 60 inches long and comes with a smooth ash handle for durability and impact reduction. Its powerful wide blade slices through the ground with ease. This garden hoe isn’t for the weakhearted, but if you have heavy-duty weeding or cultivating to do, you’ll be glad you invested in this bad boy.
- Sturdy steel blade
- Long-lasting sharp edges
- Wide blade edge for more coverage
For shoppers on the lookout for an inexpensive yet versatile solution for their gardening needs, look no further than the Corona Extended Reach Hoe, which offers two tools in one. If interested in an upgrade to a permanent addition to the garden shed, consider the American-made Bully Tools Garden Hoe, which is built to last.
How We Chose the Best Garden Hoes
There are several aspects of garden hoes to take into consideration when shopping for one. For our list of recommendations, we looked at products that are easy to maintain, which meant gravitating toward hoes that are made from durable and hardworking materials such as fiberglass and steel that will stand up to years of use. A dull hoe makes the work even harder, but with options made from 12-gauge steel and those with self-sharpening capabilities, our top picks can do most of the work so the user won’t need to worry much about finding a way to sharpen the blade.
FAQs About Garden Hoes
Hoeing is an essential part of keeping a flower or vegetable garden weed-free. If this is the first time you’ve shopped for a garden hoe, you likely have some questions.
Q. How often should you hoe a garden?
Weeding is one of those tasks that requires much less time and effort if you do it frequently. New weeds are supple and easy to remove, so walk through your garden at least every other day and spend a few minutes weeding with a hoe.
Q. How do you replace a garden hoe handle?
You can replace a wood handle on a hoe if it breaks or becomes splintery. Simply remove the nuts and bolts (or screws) that secure the handle in place, remove the old handle, insert the new one, and use new screws to secure it. If you have a vice to hold the hoe head steady as you work, it will simplify the process.
Q. How do you maintain your garden hoe?
Clean dirt and mud from the hoe blade after use and store the hoe in a garage or storage shed to prolong its useful life.