Best Garden Hoes

Updated October 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
192 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best garden hoes

Last Updated October 2019

Garden hoes are one of the oldest tools used for agriculture and simple gardening tasks. A basic modern hoe consists of a small metal paddle or blade attached at a right angle to a long handle. This is in contrast to a shovel, which has a blade extending up and down in the same direction as the handle.

While a shovel allows you to dig deeply into the soil, a garden hoe is meant to scrape or chop surface layers of the ground. Hoes are ideal to prepare soil for cultivating gardens or digging up weeds. So, choosing the right one for you is simple right? Maybe not.

While you may be familiar with the basic shape of a garden hoe, there are many slight modifications to the traditional style which allow the tool to be more effective for specific tasks. You may want more than one in your shed to accommodate all your gardening needs. Keep reading for a few key considerations and questions you should ask before buying a new garden hoe.

The best time to use a hoe is when the weeds are small and the soil is moist, but not thoroughly soaked into mud.

Key considerations

Style

Hoes come in many shapes and sizes to allow them to tackle different garden jobs. While some are better at pushing dirt and others better at pulling dirt, you want a garden hoe that performs the main function you will need.

  • Paddle hoes are the traditional and one of the most common types of hoe. They are designed for you to draw soil toward you. This style is excellent for breaking up dirt and preparing soil for planting. It can also remove weeds.

  • Ridging hoes have a pointed end on their paddle. As another kind of draw hoe, they are very effective at making ridges for vegetable gardens or planting.

  • Pronged hoes are created to do double duty. The usually have a small paddle hoe on one side and a forked edge on the other. While all hoes can help take care of weeds, this style is sometimes called a “weed” hoe. A weed hoe gives you greater precision to work the soil around thriving plants without hurting the plants.

  • Stirrup hoes have a style that looks like the stirrup on a saddle. It is a type of scuffle hoe, which means it is designed to use in a back and forth motion. The hoe is sometimes called a “push-pull” hoe or a “loop” hoe. A stirrup hoe allows you to get underneath a weed as you pull it toward you. The shape allows you to scoop out a weed or plant.

  • Dutch hoes are designed to be pushed and pulled through the soil, like a stirrup hoe. They have the paddle facing forward rather than at a right angle in a traditional hoe. A Dutch hoe has an open section to allow dirt to pass through the hoe as you skim it over the top of the soil.

Hoe head material

Steel is the head material of choice for most hoes on the market. This lightweight, hard-to-bend and strong material can make the tool very effective and long-lasting through the rigorous motion required when you use a hoe. You will find several types of steel used.

  • Welded steel is your least expensive option. There is a weld on this hoe head between the paddle and the L-shape that sets the paddle at a right angle to the handle. That weld will be a weak spot on your garden hoe and may break over time.

  • Stainless steel has the advantage of being the most resistant to rust and corrosion. It is molded, as one solid piece of metal without the welded joints. However, the shape may not withstand the repetitive chopping motion of hoeing as well as some other steels.

  • Tempered steel hoes are usually thicker and sharper than stainless steel hoes. This is your strongest hoe option and likely the most long-lasting as well. While tempered steel is resistant to corrosion, it can still rust. It will also tend to be more expensive.

Hoe handle material

  • Wood is the most common material used in hoe handles. Strong wooden handles will be carved from a single piece of hardwood. Wood helps to soften the shock of hoeing on your shoulders and neck. Hickory is considered the best wooden handle. The disadvantage of wood is its susceptibility to rot, splitting, and deterioration over time. Wood handles are fairly inexpensive to replace.

  • Fiberglass handles are molded and colored. They are also shock absorbant and less likely to break as you hoe. They also will not mold or rot. These handles are, however, harder to replace when they do break.

Blade width

  • Standard width on a traditional paddle hoe is six to seven inches. This length gives you a good multipurpose tool. It is the best tool to start with when you are learning how to use a hoe in the garden.

  • Extra wide blades are commonly 10 to 14 inches. They are good for digging up deep weeds, but can be more difficult to use. Before you buy a wide-blade hoe, make sure you feel comfortable with your skills.

  • Narrow blades are usually three inches. That is about half the size of a standard width hoe. The advantage of a narrow blade is more precision. Sometimes they are longer so you can get deeper weeds. Other times they come with a second forked edge function to help you get around delicate plants. The disadvantage of a narrow blade is that it will take you longer to get a big job done.
DID YOU KNOW?

A flower hoe has a very small paddle, allowing you to be able to weed around very delicate rows of plant bulbs.

DID YOU KNOW?

A hoedad is a long narrow hoe style which can go deep into the soil. It was designed originally to aid in the planting of trees.

Features

Cushion handle grip

A hoe with a cushion handle grip will have an area of extra padding for hand placement. The repetitive motion of hoeing a garden makes your hands very susceptible to blisters. These cushion grips help prevent hand injury. They also add a little width to the handle of your hoe, making it more comfortable for people with arthritis to hold.

Telescoping handle

Some garden hoes come with an adjustable handle known as a telescopic handle. These handles will extend from a short length that is appropriate for hand hoeing on your knees to a long length you can use standing up in a garden.

This function is convenient, but a telescopic handle is not as sturdy as a solid length handle. It will also not be quite as short as a hand hoe or as long as a standing hoe. A hoe is an inexpensive enough tool, so it may be better to opt for two hoes in different sizes.

Garden hoe prices

Inexpensive: While some hand-held models cost less, decent full sized garden hoes will cost $15 to $20. These models will have wooden handles and a standard paddle shaped head. This tool should be of good quality, but may break down with heavy use.

Mid-range: Between $20 to $40 garden hoes will begin to come with added features, like tempered steel and fiberglass handles. Their construction will be better for heavy use.

Expensive: For $40 to $70 you will find a very heavy duty garden hoe. It should be made from tempered, hardened or stainless steel to last a long time and resist rusting. It will also come with a heavy duty fiberglass handle. Some specialty hoes will also fall in this price range.

EXPERT TIP

If you want to save your back from the chopping motion of a traditional hoe, try a style designed to push rather than pull, like a stirrup hoe or a Dutch hoe.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • A garden hoe will work best if it is sharpened on a regular basis.

  • A garden hoe is very effective when you know how to use it. Spend a few minutes reading up on how the hoe you chose is designed to work to make your time in the garden more efficient.

  • Hoes work best on small weeds. If your weeds are larger, you may need a forked hoe to help dislodge the root of the weed.

  • Clean as much dirt off of your hoe as you can and completely dry it off before you put it away to help prevent rusting while your tools are in storage.

Other products we considered

For this shopping guide we focused on traditional long-handled garden hoes. When you are working in small areas, a short handled hand hoe may be what you need instead. We really like the Edward Tools hand hoe with a rubber handle that is comfortable on your hands and has a stainless steel head to resist rusting. It is a good weight and well made. HongyeTaja makes an extremely well made, tempered steel hand hoe. The hoe is very good for digging in the garden, but can also be used to chop big weeds or clear trails.

Switching sides from time to time while you hoe will help prevent injury or soreness.

FAQ

Q. How long should the handle of my garden hoe be?
A.
Length does make a difference in a garden hoe handle, because the angle of the hoe will be different based on how you hold it. You need your hoe to be at a 25º to 30º angle to properly skim the surface of the soil. Taller people will need a longer handle to make sure they can comfortably hold the hoe at this angle without straining their backs and shoulders. Try holding the hoe at your belly button and examining the angle of the hoe head to see if the length of your handle is correct. If you cannot adjust the angle of the handle, try adjusting the angle of the head.

Q. How do I sharpen my garden hoe?
A.
Use a metal file. Hold the hoe with the blade side up. While holding the handle, place the file on the outside edge of the blade. Pull the coarse side of the metal file toward you along the edge of the blade. You only want to sharpen the outside edge of the paddle. The angle should be at about 30º.

Q. How do I know what kind of hoe I need?
A.
This may depend on your preference, or the size of the area you will use the hoe. There are literally dozens of different shapes and styles of garden hoe available. While a traditional paddle hoe is a safe choice for any gardener, as your skill levels rise you may find yourself wanting a more specialized hoe for a specific purpose. Some gardeners have several hoes to tackle weed and cultivation needs as they change throughout the season.

The team that worked on this review
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jacob
    Jacob
    Editorial Manager
  • Karen
    Karen
    Writer
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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