Garden Action

The premier gardening information source

Why, When and How to Use A Hoe

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.

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 maximum yield.

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.

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.

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.