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How do you prepare soil with a garden hoe?

How to prepare soil for planting using a hoe

Gardening can be an enriching hobby with delicious rewards, but before you begin, you have to prepare your soil for planting. Earth is packed with essential nutrients that plants need to grow, but the ground can become compacted, making it hard for plants to absorb these vital nutrients properly.

By breaking up and turning the soil, you create an ideal environment for your plants to grow, and learning how to do that efficiently is the first step.

What is a garden hoe?

Garden hoes have long handles and a flat or angled blade. They’re primarily used to work the soil and remove weeds, although they can be used for trenches, covering seeds and tamping dirt as well. Depending on your yard, there are several kinds of garden hoes you may want to add to your arsenal.

Paddle hoe

Paddle hoes, or draw hoes, are the most commonly used hoes. They break up the soil by pulling it toward you. Many have a flat blade attached to the handle at a right angle, making them easy to use for chopping weeds. 

Warren hoe

Warren hoes have a triangular blade attached to the handle at a right angle, just like a paddle hoe. Unlike a paddle hoe, warren hoes are often designed to push soil rather than pull it, although many can do either. These types of hoes are perfect for digging narrow trenches for seeds and bulbs or removing extra-tricky weeds.

Stirrup hoe

The stirrup hoe, or scuffle hoe, is designed to be used in a push-and-pull motion and is the best hoe for weeding. It has a loop or stirrup-shaped blade that can swivel on some newer models, referred to as action hoes. The looped blades cut weeds at the root, below the soil’s surface.

How to hoe a garden

  • Before you begin using your hoe, mark off the area you plan to use for a garden using stakes or another method. If you haven’t picked a spot yet, spend a few days observing your yard first. Find a site that gets at least six hours of sunlight a day for your garden.
  • You need to test your soil to make sure it’s fit for planting. You can find many methods for doing this online, but you may benefit from a soil test kit. If it’s too alkaline or acidic, you’ll have to buy nutrients to get it into shape before you begin planting seeds.
  • To properly use a paddle hoe, hold it like you would a broom. After placing the blade against the soil, firmly sweep it back toward you, breaking up the dirt in the process. Repeat this until the earth has been adequately broken up and mixed.
  • To reduce back strain, try not to hunch too much while using your hoe. Hoes should be able to be used while standing straight.
  • If you’re planting large bulbs or plants that need to grow in neat rows, you may want to use a warren hoe. Draw the hoe toward you to create a narrow furrow from one side of your garden to the other — repeat this process to make rows for your seeds.
  • If you have some serious weeding to do, you’ll benefit from picking up a stirrup hoe as well, but a single paddle hoe is adequate for most home gardens.

What is the best garden hoe?

Best paddle hoe

Rogue Prohoe Garden Hoe

The Rogue Garden Hoe has a sharp blade that cuts through weeds and dirt with ease. Although this piece of equipment is sturdy, it’s lightweight, making it easy for most people to maneuver. The 60-inch handle can prove to be a blessing or curse, depending on who’s using it.

Best warren hoe

Truper Tru Tough Welded Warren Hoe

The Truper Tru Tough hoe has a 54-inch lacquered handle and a long, pointed blade with a narrow end that’s perfect for making rows in your garden. The 54-inch handle may prove to be too long for some people to use comfortably; luckily, it also has a 48-inch option.

Best stirrup hoe

True Temper Looped Action Hoe

This tool has a steel looped blade that’s great for cutting through weeds below the earth’s surface. The hoe’s edge has a slight swivel to help with mobility and a cushioned handle to fight fatigue.


Cody Stewart is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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