On all but the smallest gardens a hoe is as essential as a spade
or fork. It speeds up the weeding process enormously.
As well as explaining the various types of hoe we also explain
when it the best time to hoe and how to do it effectively.
It's not difficult, but five minutes spent reading this article
will give you all you need to know.
WHY USE A HOE?
Controlling weeds with a hoe is far quicker than hand weeding. It also
allows you to easily kill seedlings which have not yet appeared above
the ground. By doing that the task of weeding is made so much easier.
In the flower garden there are no preparations to hoeing because the
plants are arranged for visual effect. But in a vegetable, fruit or
herb garden the plants are often planted for ease of maintenance and
If you take a look at the experienced allotment
growers planting scheme you will notice that the plants are arranged
in a straight line. You will also notice that they are arranged so
that there is sufficient space between rows to allow access for
weeding, specifically with a hoe.
Planting in a straight line has a couple of key
advantages and one of them is that it makes hoeing much easier and
less likely to cause damage to the plants. Where plants are arranged
randomly, it's difficult to quickly weed with a hoe because constant
sideways movement of the hoe is needed rather than simply pulling or
pushing it in a straight line.
So, when you plant vegetables, do it in a straight
line and keep the rows well separated to allow easy access.
WHEN TO HOE?
It's easy to say it, but the best time to hoe is before you have a
problem with the weeds, even before they appear on the surface. Weed
seedlings are developing all the time just below the soil surface and
if you hoe regularly these weed seedlings will be easily killed and
the whole task made easier. So the first rule about hoeing is to do it
as early as possible.
The second consideration is the level of moisture in
the soil. It's best to hoe when the soil surface is dry. When the
weeds are chopped off by the hoe they stand much less chance or
re-rooting if the soil surface is dry.
HOW TO HOE?
First, make sure that when you hoe you are as upright as
possible to make it easy on your back. The length of the hoe is key to
this. In tests some hoes were found to be of a better length than
others. We give advice on this in the next page of this article.
When weeding with a hoe the objective is to cut the
weed from the roots at just below soil level. A centimetre either way
is not crucial but cut too deep or too high and the effectiveness can
be considerably reduced. The ideal point to cut the weed is about one
to two centimetres (half to three quarters of an inch) below the soil
surface. Cut too low and the weed may be dragged to the surface intact
where it may re-root. Cut too high and sufficient greenery may still
exist so the weed simply continues growing.
Click the link at the bottom of the page to see the
commonly available types of hoe and their good and bad points.