The Best Weeding Tools for Your Garden
The best weeding tool will be comfortable to use and sturdy enough for even the toughest taproot. Find a recommendation that best suits your needs here.
Herbicides are common in weed control, but they pose serious risks. These chemicals can leach from the soil and find their way into drinking water or into rivers and ponds where they poison aquatic life. Torching weeds is another option—but definitely not recommended in dry areas prone to wildfires. Of all options, manual weeding is by far the safest and most environmentally friendly.
Weeds have a way of proliferating seemingly overnight and are easiest to remove when they’re young. Though some weeds release without a fight, others will make you wish you had a jackhammer. For all weed removal, timing is important and is best done after a rainfall when the soil is softer and more willing to release roots.
The best weeding tool will be comfortable to use and sturdy enough to overpower even the toughest taproot. Ahead, our tips for selecting the tool that best suits your needs, and our top favorites among the best weeding tool options out there.
Key Shopping Considerations
For the right handle length, consider the area where you’ll be working and your own physical limitations.
Large garden beds and walkways are best weeded from an upright position, which takes the stress off your back and helps you get the greatest amount of work done with the least amount of effort. Particularly if bad knees or hips make it difficult to kneel comfortably, choose a long-handled, upright weeder. Some include a feature that lets you pull the weed and discard it without ever having to bend over.
Raised beds, tight spaces, and healthy joints are conducive to short-handled weeders that let you get up close and personal. Some weeding tools include an ergonomic grip that keeps your hand and wrist at the same angle, eliminating strain on joints from prolonged repetitive use.
- Cutting and Slicing: Although not always useful on deeply rooted weeds, cutting tools like knives and sickles are intended for more fibrous roots, like those of crabgrass and creeping Charlie, that sit close to the soil surface. Knives cut away entire pieces of weed-infested turf, whereas slicers like stirrup-style hoes skim the surface of the soil with a push/pull motion and are best for quickly removing smaller weeds or those in cultivated beds where gardeners can easily work the soil. Knives are also great for scraping out weeds from sidewalk cracks and pavers.
- Digging and Chopping: Taprooted weeds like dandelions require a tool that can penetrate the soil deeply enough to dislodge the entire root. Digging tools like the traditional fork-tongued fishtail were designed for these tough-to-remove weeds. Snakehead and spear-point tips also fall in this category. Grub hoes are the toughest of this group and are most effective on large weeds in heavy soil when only a good amount of physical force can drive the sharp blade deeply enough to lift the weed. Short-handled chopping hoes are great for removing large weeds that require more precision, like around the base of perennials and shrubs. The best digging tools for hard clay soil, diggers often are made of steel so they won’t bend or break in denser soils.
- Raking: Ideal for cultivated flower and vegetable gardens where soil is loose and easy to work, raking weeders like stirrup hoes, forks, and hybrid cultivators combine digging and raking tools on a single head to lift clusters of shallow-rooted weeds. These tools work with a push/pull action, skimming the soil surface and dislodging smaller weeds that you can gather up and discard or leave in place to decompose and feed the soil. Consider a long-handle raking weeder for removing weeds around shrubs and a short version for raised beds and tight spaces.
Deeply-rooted weeds require a good deal of prying and coaxing to pull them from the soil. Tools made of plastic or a soft metal like aluminum are more likely to bend or break under the pressure. They might not penetrate heavy clay soil surfaces at all. The best weeding tools are made of steel that will last for years without rusting or breaking. Longevity also depends on proper care, so be sure to remove dirt, rinse off any debris, and let a tool dry completely after every use before storing it.
Our Top Picks
1. BEST OVERALL: Cobrahead Original Weeder/Cultivator
Great for removing stubborn weeds from heavy soil, the Cobrahead weeder boasts a curved, forged steel end that hooks deeply beneath the weed to lift and remove it. The shovel-like tip resembles a snake head and is great for scraping out young weed seedlings, not to mention for planting rows of seeds or scratching in fertilizer. It’s a simple tool with a comfortable plastic grip perfect for tackling many garden-related tasks.
2. RUNNER-UP: Radius 102 Hand Weeder
Hands tire quickly and grip strength is one of the first things to go when weeding in dense soil. The curved handle on the Radius weeder keeps your hand and wrist aligned as you push the serrated aluminum tool next to the root and lift the weed out. Use it for removing deeply rooted weeds growing at the base of other plants like vegetables, shrubs, and perennials.
3. HONORABLE MENTION: Fiskars Big Grip Garden Knife
Not only is the Fiskars Big Grip Garden Knife a weeder, but it also has several added features that make it a great multipurpose tool for raised beds and smaller spaces with loose soil. A notched tip at the end of the blade penetrates soil to lift weeds, roots and all. Made of rust-resistant cast aluminum, the knife has a sharpened blade on one side for slicing and a serrated one on the other side for cutting through tough roots. It’s also effective at cutting open bags of soil, lifting seedlings for transplant, and cutting rows into soil for direct sowing of seeds. The thick padded grip minimizes hand fatigue.