Garden Hoes


Every Garden Shed Should Have A Hoe

One of the Basic Garden Tools Comes in Many Forms

peter rabbit

Mr. MacGregor hoeing his vegetables.

Think that all hoes are just six of one, and half dozen of another? Think again!

Each style of hoe (and there are many) serves a specific purpose in making the hard row to hoe lighter work for you. That translates into a tool that saves your back, and gets the job done well.

How many hoes are in your tool shed? What is the difference, and what are they used for?

Take a little time to look through the descriptions of hoes on this page and then choose the type that is best for your garden task.

The Ancient Hoe

We still use it today, and for the same reasons

Hoes are some of the oldest known tools that man invented for cultivating the soil. Primitive hoes were made of animal scapula bones for the tool blade, secured with animal sinew to handles. In Fort Ancient, early Indian hoes of freshwater shells and deer antlers have been found.

When ground is unusually dense or hard the hoe is used to break up clods of earth; later in the season when weeds become more of a problem, hoes are used to chop resistant plants out of the ground.


The pick, the adz, and the plow all seem to have derived from the ancient basic hoe.


Now, of course, our tools are refined to their purpose and can be made of ergonomically designed modern materials. We could still use bone tools or clamshell hoes, but they would hardly be worth the extra work. a modern tool is worth its price!

Skill Instructions

The gardener stands straight, using a thumbs-up grip, while the sharp, thin blade is moving flat and parallel with the soil surface. The blade slices off weeds without throwing soil onto nearby seedlings.


What are the two main jobs for this implement?

(1) To move soil and (2) to remove weeds.

Move soil? The classic hoe shape is best for these garden chores:

  • Form raised beds
  • Form trenches
  • Hill up potatoes

My hoe as it bites the ground revenges my wrongs, and I have less lust to bite my enemies. In smoothing the rough hillocks, I smooth my temper. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Best hoes for weeding?

Those hoes known by the names Stirrup, Scuffle, Action and Hula Hoe. All pretty much the same design of hoe.

  • The collinear hoe with its long, narrow rectangular blade.
  • The gooseneck,swan neck, half moon hoe, which slice on the pull stroke.
  • The diamond hoe is a variation of scuffle hoe.
  • The stirrup hoe and circle hoes.
Choose The Right Hoe, Keep It Sharp

Use a file to keep it sharp.

Collinear Hoe

Ergonomic design makes weeding surprisingly enjoyable; effective in and around low-lying crops such as head lettuce; Swiss galvanized steel head; oiled Maine ashwood handle. 5 1/2′ overall.
Spring is time to get those garden supplies
Post season in late summer and early fall are the best times to find clearance prices on garden goods.

The Classic Garden Hoe

Ready for most weeding conditions.

This tool will chop soil, cut weeds from their roots, and move a small amount of soil if needed. It is good to use when first working soil in the beginning of the season. It has a broad cutting edge and blade.

A Shuffle Hoe Makes Quick Work of Weeds

Also creates a dust mulch

This is but one of several types of shuffle hoe, but I confess that it is my personal favorite. A shuffle hoe works with a back forth motion which doesn’t lift up off the ground. Weeds are cut from their roots so that they dry up, a dust mulch is left behind, which is one way to help conserve the soil’s moisture.

One of my favorites, I usually reach for this type of shuffle hoe when I want to get serious weeding done in the vegetable garden. It cuts the weeds right under the surface of the soil and leaves a nice dust mulch.


The Warren Hoe

Planting, weeding, and harvesting.
This sharply pointed small blade tool is good for weeding in tight places. It was traditionally used in planting to make furrows and then flipped to pull soil over the planted rows.

It will also come in handy when it is time to harvest leeks, potatoes, or asparagus.

The Grub Hoe

Moving earth
A grub hoe is mainly an earth mover. It is useful for hilling potatoes, trenching, chopping hard or frozen ground, chopping up sod. Think of a tough job that requires chopping and moving earth and this is the one to reach for, great for homesteaders.

Skill Instructions:

putting one hand on the top of the handle and the other about 1/3 or ½ of the way down, with both thumbs facing the blade. Make sure not to slide your hands like an axe when chopping and keep both of them in place. Raise the hoe to hip height and swing down with a chopping motion into the soil. Then pull the slice of soil you just cut towards you. Instead of having to stomp a shovel into the ground and then using your back to lift up the loose dirt, the Grub Hoe allows you to use your whole body and the physics of the tool to easily cut through and remove the soil. –Growers Tools


The Quoted Hoe

“To own a bit of ground, to scratch it with a hoe, to plant seeds, and watch the renewal of life – this is the commonest delight of the race, the most satisfactory thing a man can do.” – Charles Dudley Warner

“The neighbor’s field is easy to hoe.” – African proverb

“That is a hard row to hoe.” – Old adage

“The best way to garden is to put on a wide-brimmed straw hat and some old clothes. And with a hoe in one hand and a cold drink in the other, tell somebody else where to dig.” – Texas Bix Bender, Don’t Throw in the Trowel

“Hoeing: A manual method of severing roots from stems of newly planted flowers and vegetables.” – Henry Beard

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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author


I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of "Ilona's Reflecting Pool". Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. The work on "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.