If your memory of garden hoes is "a dull frustrating tool you hack at weeds with", then we have a treat for you. ☺
It is true that today's big-box store hoes are too light, too dull, and poorly made. But here at Easy Digging you can stiil buy strong, sharp tools that are made with efficient designs developed back in the days when hoeing and digging and tilling the soil by hand were everyday jobs on the farm or in the family garden.
Garden Hoe Types
There are three types of tasks that gardening hoes can be used for. Using the wrong tool for a task is not a good experience.
We will describe each task briefly, and tell which tools serve that purpose...
● Digging Hoe -- Made to break, or dig into, the soil or sod. (Grub Hoe, Pointed Hoe, sometimes the Fork Hoe)
● Cultivating Hoe -- Made to till or loosen bare soil each season. (Fork Hoe, sometimes the Grub and Pointed)
● Weeding Hoe -- Made to slice the upper later of soil to cut or uproot weeds. (Grape Hoe, and Ploskorez Hoe)
As you see, there is some cross-over between the Digging and Cultivating Hoes. The information on our individual tool pages will help you decide, and you can see our Hoe Selector Chart far below. There are other odd tasks they can be used for, such as moving thick mulch with the Fork Hoe, making drainage trenches with the Grub Hoe, and moving and piling loose soil with the Grape Hoe.
Click here to see our Replacement Hoe Handles
The Long Handled Hoe Advantage
Long handles allow you to stand in the proper upright ergonomic position while you dig, cultivate, or weed. This means less effort and less back strain than if you used a short handled tool, or a shovel or spade. For weeding hoes, people quickly understand the advantage of a long handle. But with digging and cultivating hoes, people sometimes mix them up with different shorter handled tools, or with short versions used in other parts of the world. We will explain below...
Long handle = easier on the back.
Short handle = more bending.
The height of your hoe handle should be between your armpit and shoulder. Our hoe handles are designed to allow it to be adjusted to match your size. The long handle is the same diameter over the entire length, so it can be cut shorter if necessary. If your handle is too long simply cut some length off of the rounded end. The cut end can re-rounded with a sander, or by good old-fashioned whittling with a pocket knife.
Why do some tools have much shorter handles?
A shorter handle will work, but it is less ergonomic, harder on your back, and requires more effort. We strongly recommend that you practice using your hoe with a properly sized long handle rather than immediately cutting it down to a shorter length that may FEEL more familiar.
Why would a shorter handle FEEL more familiar?
Most people in North America are more familiar with short-handled picks, mattocks, sledgehammers and axes They are used with a full-body arcing swing, meaning that the tool is swung from overhead down to the ground with a great deal of force to do high impact work like busting concrete and splitting wood. But a grub hoe is a soil digging tool - not a concrete breaker - and it should NOT be swung from overhead.
Why do some Africans and Asians still use this tool with a short handle?
Study after study in Africa, India, and Asia have shown that long-handled tools would be more effective, less tiring, and healthier for the millions of small farmers who use them every day. But old habits and cultural norms are very hard to change, and the switch to long handled farming tools has been slow coming. In many African countries, to work in the fields standing upright is considered a sign of laziness. In Burkina Faso, one women's group said they would like longer handles on their digging hoes, but that their husbands would not allow it.
Here are a couple studies on the issue of short handled versus long handled agricultural tools in the developing world: #1) Rural Women and Farm Tools, and #2) The potential for improving production tools and implements used by women farmers in AfricaPlease see our How to Use a Grub Hoe page for more info.
Gardening Hoe Selector Chart
This chart shows which tools are recommended for common garden and digging tasks.
|Tool / Task||Grub Hoe||Grape Hoe||Fork Hoe||Point Hoe||Plos-korez|
|till a garden||YES||NO||YES||YES||NO|
|dig a trench||YES||NO||NO||NO||NO|
|break hardened soil||Fair||NO||NO||Fair||NO|
|lever stones & roots||NO||NO||NO||NO||NO|
|chop thick roots||NO||NO||NO||NO||NO|
|cut pasture weeds||YES||Fair||NO||YES||NO|
|weed large areas||NO||YES||NO||NO||NO|
|clean garden paths||NO||YES||NO||NO||NO|
|weed small, tight spaces||NO||NO||NO||NO||YES|
|prepare seed beds||NO||Fair||YES||NO||NO|
|move & turn mulch||NO||Fair||YES||NO||NO|
Why do I need a heavy-duty hoe?
If you are going to be digging into the ground, or slicing through thick established weeds, then you should buy a heavy-duty garden hoe so that it lasts a long time. It is a pain to have your tool break during a busy day. There are some tasks that a lighter delicate tool is better for, like detail weeding between closely placed plants with our Ploskorez hoe. For that job, you want a gardening hoe that is small, light, and sharp - so you can control it precisely. For more usage information, visit our How To instruction pages