Updated: July 2018
There are quite a few weeding tools on the market. Maybe you’ve seen some ads or packaging that say something like, “Buy me! Best Weeding Tool Ever.” You know, the kind that claims to end all your weeding woes the minute you get this new “best weed pulling tool” into your hands.
The truth, my fine gardening friend, is that there is no magical best weeding tool that will effortlessly whisk away your pesky weeds like a magic wand.
The truth is more subtle, and while there may not be a single best weed pulling tool for all people across all circumstances, there is likely a tool or two that can become your best weeding tool.
With a bit of self-reflection and a bit of information, you’ll be ready to pick the best weed removal tool for you. Let’s dive in.
How to Select the Best Weeding Tool for You
Before we discuss different types of weed pulling tools, let’s find out a bit more about your particular circumstances.
Keep your answers to these questions in mind as you read. It will help you select the best weeding tool for you and your unique situation. Feel free to jot your answers down separately, if it helps.
- Where will you be weeding? Get specific. In raised beds, in in-ground veggie beds, in pathways between your beds, between plants in a row, around perennials? All of the above?
- What is your soil like? Have you gardened this area before? Is the soil soft and loose? Is the ground unbroken and hard?
- How big are your weeds? Do you tend to stay on top of weeding? Or come in last minute when weeds are getting large?
- Will you be standing upright to weed, or kneeling on the ground?
Ok, now that you have a clearer picture of the weeding you’ll be doing, let’s take a look at some different weeding tools, and how they can meet your particular needs.
I’m presenting these garden weeders in order from lowest physical impact (ie, easiest to use) to higher physical impact (ie, requires more strength and effort). Generally speaking, the higher effort tools can tackle larger weeds.
Long-Handled Precision Weeding Hoes
Best weeding tool for small weeds in cultivated ground, especially between crops.
Precision weeders, as I like to call them, are a class of weeding tool that require very little physical effort, are very accurate, precise and create minimal soil disturbance.
These tools require that your weeds be on the small side and that your soil be mostly loose and cultivated.
They are not intended for breaking ground, weeding pathways or heavy chopping, but are just about perfect for weeding between veggies in cultivated ground.
Use of these weeding tools is a bit different from a standard chopping hoe. You stand fully upright, gripping the handle with your thumbs up (like holding a broom). In this way, you weed on the “pull” stroke, never pushing, and are able to safely work right up to the base of plants.
If any type of tool allows you to be mostly relaxed while working, this is the one.
If you do a lot of row crops, tend to stay on top of things and want to work from a fully upright, relaxed position, this style may be the best weeding tool for you.
Watch a collinear hoe in action. The motion is the same for both the SHW Upright and the Dewit Half Moon pictured above.
Short-Handled Precision Weeders
If you garden in raised beds, tight spaces, or otherwise just like to work closer to the ground. These short handled tools work like their long handled counterparts: slice weeds drawing the tool back toward you.
They are accurate and easy on the body.
Long-Handled Hula, Scuffle, or Stirrup Hoes
Best weeding tool for small to medium weeds when you want to quickly cover a lot of ground.
This group of weeding tools works the soil more deeply and can handle larger weeds than the precision hoes. These generally operate on a push/pull motion, so they are fast, but not as accurate as the precision group.
You don’t need to be a body builder to wield one of these, but they do require more effort than the precision group, and your posture when using one is slightly bent. (The long handled diamond hoe is an exception, as its extra-long handle allows an upright posture.)
If the soil in your pathways is not too compacted, these can be a dream to work with. I also like the hula hoe for weeding a bed before planting (if weeds are small.)
If you have long stretches of inter-row and pathway weeding, this style may be the best weeding tool for you.
Watch Scuffle Hoes in Action
Standard Garden Hoes
Best Weeding Tool For…?
This is the type of hoe you’ll find at big box stores, farm and garden stores or when you simply search online for “garden hoe.” They generally have a fairly wide, broad and thin blade.
They’re a bit of a multi-tasker as they can do some light chopping as well as slicing, depending on how you hold it. I don’t think they excel at either task, so I hardly reach for one.
If I need to slice I prefer a collinear hoe, and if I need to chop I reach for a heavier grub hoe.
That said, here are some options.
The video below pretty well exemplifies why I don’t think this is the best weeding tool for anybody.
The user is quite stooped, and as we’ve seen there are more efficient ways to take out small weeds.
Also, please don’t bang the blade of your tool on a concrete block!
Long-Handled Grub or Chopping Hoes
Best weeding tool for large weeds in hard ground, pathways and more
Grub hoes are the heaviest and most powerful weeding tools we’ve discussed so far. When your weeds get too big for a hula hoe, or if your soil is hard, this tool will do the trick.
Their blades are fairly long and thick, and they’re designed to penetrate the soil (though with some finesse you can scrape the surface). They do require some strength (the weight of the head does much of the work), but for weeding in hard ground, especially in pathways or unbroken sod, they are incredibly effective. This tool can also pull out large bunch grasses with ease.
This type of tool has additional value because it will do more than weed. It’s excellent at mixing compost or fertilizer into your soil, it can break ground for planting, dig trenches and shape small earthworks.
If you need a tool for getting large weeds in hard ground and for handling other garden work, this may be the best weeding tool for you.
Watch a Grub Hoe in Action
Short-Handled Chopping Hoes
Short-handled chopping hoes are great for digging out tougher weeds and grasses in tight spaces (when a slicing hoe won’t cut it :)).
I reach for one most often when I need to weed around the base of perennials like young fruit trees or berries
I also like to use one as a hole digger when setting out annual transplants or planting bulbs.
Watch the Japanese Ika Hoe in Action
I hope this article has given you some perspective on choosing the best weeding tool for you and your unique situation.
If all this leaves your head spinning, drop me a line at 541-846-8655 or email to matt (at) thetoolmerchants.com
What’s your favorite weed pulling tool? I’d love to hear from you, leave a comment down below.