One Tool to Do It All: Truly Garden Hori Hori Knife Review
This knife is the digging tool of choice for gardeners who value versatility.
Gardeners who find themselves spending an inordinate amount of time chasing down the right tool for a variety of jobs might appreciate a hori hori knife. Highly regarded for its ability to take on a diversity of cutting, digging, and weeding tasks, this traditional Japanese garden tool offers much in the way of versatility. With any tool purchase, quality should be the first point of order, and it can be difficult to uncover a gem among the junk, especially when shopping online for an unfamiliar tool.
I recently spent a week in my garden testing 10 hori hori knives that are among the most popular brands today. This test group included everything from inexpensive budget models to beautiful, high-end tools worthy of gift giving. When the steel hit the dirt, my top choice was the Truly Garden hori hori knife. In this review, I’ll outline my experience using this tool and share why I think it is one of the best hori hori knives for practical gardening.
Truly Garden Hori Hori Knife: At a Glance
- Length: 12.25 inches
- Weight: 10.15 ounces
- Materials: Stainless steel blade, hardwood handle
- Rugged construction with full-tang blade and triple-riveted hardwood handle
- Blade features straight and finely serrated edges for all kinds of garden-cutting needs
- Easy-to-read depth gauge blade markings in 1-inch and 5-millimeter increments
- Heavy-duty leather sheath with wide belt carrying loop and brass snap handle retainer
- Kit includes a retractable diamond sharpening rod to maintain both blade edges
- Bulky sheath is not comfortable to wear while gardening
Get the Truly Garden hori hori knife at:
What is the Truly Garden hori hori knife?
Hori hori knives originated in Japan as a dependable digging tool for foraging and harvesting root vegetables. The Truly Garden hori hori knife is a traditionally designed tool that follows the classic Japanese style, with a hardwood handle and a slightly concave 7-inch-long by 1.625-inch-wide blade culminating in a pointed tip. The tool measures 12.25 inches long overall and weighs just over 10 ounces. It comes equipped with a heavy-duty leather sheath and a diamond sharpening rod.
Full-tang construction of 0.125-inch-thick stainless steel gives this tool the strength to resist bending while digging and prying in heavy soil. The double-edged blade features smooth and serrated edges and a 6-inch/150-millimeter combination depth gauge on the convex face. The two-piece hardwood handle is triple riveted to the blade and fitted to perfection. A 2.25-inch-wide steel hand guard bolster protects the user against accidental cuts.
Shoppers who are unaccustomed to using a hori hori knife will find that it is narrower than a garden trowel, and the blade is less keen than a pocket knife or pruners. Additionally, it feels different than an offset trowel and is heavier than some of the tools it replaces. However, the practical benefit of the hori hori knife is that it performs digging and cutting tasks well enough to take the place of multiple tools. As part of my testing, I used the Truly Garden hori hori knife to:
- dig, divide, and transplant hostas and daylilies
- harvest carrots
- pluck dandelions from the lawn
- clean out and replant container gardens
- pry up stepping stones for leveling
- open bags of potting soil and mulch
Alternatively, I would have needed a garden spade, a transplanter, a trowel, and a knife to complete all of those jobs. The Truly Garden hori hori knife proved to be a broadly capable multitasker, if not the “perfect” tool for each project.
Is the Truly Garden hori hori knife best for cutting, weeding, or planting?
While I did use the Truly Garden hori hori knife for cutting, weeding, and planting, it is first and foremost a digging tool. The shape of the knife lends itself to either a thumb-forward or pinky-forward grip. When gripping the handle with my thumb oriented toward the blade, I used a scooping motion to dig shallow trenches or slice weeds just below the soil surface. This position provided the best control. To quickly open holes for transplanting seedlings or loosen the compacted soil around tap-rooted plants, I grasped the knife with my pinky finger closest to the blade. This orientation allowed more downward force and deeper soil penetration.
The serrated and smooth sharpened edges on this tool support digging operations. They are chisel ground from the back side of the blade, giving the edges a thick profile to best withstand collisions with rocks and grit in the soil. The specific steel formulation of the Truly Garden hori hori knife allowed it to hold its sharp edge quite well in my garden. The tool continued to slice through woody roots up to about 0.375 inches of thickness, even after several hours of use. After testing, I used the diamond rod to grind out a few tiny dings in the edges.
I would not rely on this tool primarily as a knife or saw outside of the soil. The sharp blades are designed for soil-based cutting needs, such as root pruning, slicing off weeds below the soil surface, or penetrating compacted soil. They also easily cut garden twine and packing materials and might offer limited use in place of a hatchet. They are not designed for pruning branches or any other fine cuts.
Is the Truly Garden hori hori knife user-friendly?
This hori hori knife was well balanced, moderately heavy, and felt very comfortable in my hand compared to the other models I tested. I especially appreciated the finely tuned handle finish with smooth, rounded edges that matched up seamlessly with the grind of the rivets and tang. Several other models in my test group appeared at a glance to be identical, but they all lacked this refined finish and instead had sharper angles and gaps or protrusions where the wood met the metal.
A few other standout features included the clearly legible depth gauge—which I also used as a guide for horizontal plant spacing—the heavy sheath, and the diamond rod. While the depth gauge was very similar to that on several competitors’ models, I preferred this gauge best. The heavy-duty leather sheath was made of thicker rawhide than the other models, stitched at the edges, and fastened to its belt loop with steel rivets. It should stand up well to years of hard use. I especially liked the included diamond rod for maintaining the edges. It worked quickly and retracted for convenient storage in its own handle.
Is the Truly Garden hori hori knife durable?
The Truly Garden knife uniquely balances a comfortable and easy-to-use design with rugged durability. As described above, the full-tang stainless steel blade was strong and resistant to both bending and corrosion. The riveted hardwood handle showed no signs of weakness after a day of heavy garden use mixed with a little intentional abuse. Specifically, I used the handle to pound garden stakes and also dropped the knife handle first 20 times on the concrete driveway from a height of 6 feet. I then resumed digging, and the knife had no noticeable defects.
Is the Truly Garden hori hori knife right for you?
Hori hori knives have become something of a trendy gardening fashion statement in recent years. Nearly every publication and influencer in the wide world of garden media touts this tool as a “must-have,” but I disagree. Some gardeners require ergonomically designed tools to combat hand, wrist, and arm pain or to maximize limited strength and range of motion. Others may prioritize a wide scooping trowel for its ability to move more dirt faster and then carry a pair of pruners or a pocket knife for any cutting needs. Gardening is a big tent with room for everyone.
However, consumers who value productive days in the garden without the burden of a bagful of tools will appreciate the dependable multipurpose nature of the Truly Garden hori hori knife. It is built for years of hard use and is versatile enough to tackle most cutting, weeding, and planting needs in container gardens or planting beds.
Where to Buy the Truly Garden Hori Hori Knife
Get the Truly Garden hori hori knife at:
Meet the Tester
Mark Wolfe is a writer and product tester with an extensive background in the nursery and landscaping industries. For more than 20 years, he mowed, edged, planted, pruned, cultivated, irrigated, and renovated beautiful landscapes. Now, he tests and writes reviews about the latest outdoor power equipment, hand tools, lawn care products, and other outdoor living goods.