The Power of the Back Cut

The Hoss oscillating hoe works in both directions.

This post was created by our customer John T of Tennessee. He also took the pictures. I have made some edits to the article John sent us - so any typos, errors, or omissions are mine.

Thanks for reading!       by Greg Baka


The Power of the Back Cut
by John T. of TN

I have been gardening for seven years now. During this time my gardens have gone from laughable, spindly plants to "Oh my Goodness, tell me how you did that!". But with all this great soil and extended growing season I have here, there is one scourge that never seems to go away: WEEDS!

Over the past two years I have been using a Wheel wheel cultivator in my garden for all sorts of different things. I use the split plow to cut trenches and fill them in. I use the cultivator teeth during the mid-summer dry spell to break up the earth, and I use the Oscillating Hoe to do the majority of my weeding.

Later I will talk about my wheel hoe experiences and the various combination of attachments I've tried, but for now, let's concentrate on the Oscillating Hoe, aka., the Stirrup Hoe, the Action Hoe, or the Hula Hoe (which is trademarked).

The Oscillating Hoe attachment is the most useful one for my wheel hoe. If you have weeds in your garden, this thing can make it very easy to take them out. When attached, and when your wheel hoe is adjusted properly to your height, it can be as easy as walking up and down the rows of your garden. The double-sided blade works in conjunction with the swivel/pivot mechanism to make a weeder that cuts both ways in just the right way.

The most common use of the Oscillating Hoe is to drive forward with the blade digging in about 1/2 inch into the surface. This works wonders on small weeds and freshly sprouted grasses. But, hey, living in the real world means one may not always be able to find the time to weed them when they are small. Maybe I had to work? Maybe we got some rain and I can't weed the garden for a few days till it dries out? They grow larger and sturdier, and, at least in my garden, there is the ever-present threat of clumping grasses that will make an Oscillating Hoe cry.

Unless you know the Power of the Back Cut. You see? It cuts both ways. One can easily slide the Oscillating Hoe forward and backwards. But for more power on the back stroke, lower the Wheel Hoe's handles a bit. You can even lift the front wheel(s) off the ground if you lean back far enough. At that point the full weight of the entire wheel hoe is resting on the Oscillating Hoe.

That's when the Oscillating Hoe digs deeper, and transfers more power into the roots of the weeds. I find this simple technique saves me lots of time and sweat when dealing with "whatever that grass is" that keeps trying to grow in my garden. Also works well on woody weeds that have gotten ahead of you. It is also much easier on the Oscillating Hoe. That thin strip of metal is a mighty weapon in the war-on-weeds, but it has it's limits. If the clump can stop your forward motion, then you need to do the back cut to keep from breaking the blade.


oscillating hoe cutting in the forward direction

Weeding in the forward direction

This is the normal way to use the Oscillating Hoe. This forward cut made mincemeat out of that tuft of grass, and the author proceeded onward with hardly a thought. Notice the wheel is on the ground, and the wheel cultivator is being operated in it's common manner. Why is this wheel hoe dirty? Because it gets used a lot!


oscillating hoe cutting in the backward direction

Weeding using a Back Cut

This is where the magic happens! The wheel hoe is being drawn backwards. Notice the Oscillating Hoe is rocked forward, and the wheel is off the ground. Doing this allows for deeper cuts, as the hoe has reoriented itself to the proper angle for a backstroke, and with the wheel off the ground the weight of the entire machine is pressing down on the hoe blade. This attacks tough roots at their weaker points, further below ground, and allows them to be cut, lifted, and killed. This pile of tough stuff was reduced to rubble after the author applied a powerful backstroke.