How to dig up weeds with a garden hoe – Hartford Courant


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Using a garden hoe for weeding Using a garden hoe allows you to pull weeds while standing up, saving your back and allowing you to clear a larger area in less time. By running a hoe over your garden on a regular basis, you can avoid struggling with larger weeds later so you can use your time and energy for the more fun and rewarding parts of gardening. Below, learn about the different kinds of garden hoes and the best ways to employ them in the endless battle against weeds. There are so many different types and designs of garden hoes, you may have a hoe for weeding in your garage and not even realize it, or you might have used the wrong type of hoe for the task and decided it was useless. A hoe is a traditional garden tool made up of a long handle (similar to a broom or shovel) with a metal blade attached to the bottom. The shape, size and angle of the blade determines the type of hoe and which garden task it’s best for. Not all hoes are effective for weeding. Draw hoes: Also called paddle or chopping hoes, draw hoes have a rectangular blade which sits perpendicular to the handle. They’re designed to be drawn toward you in one direction and are handy for smoothing earth and chopping down into compacted soil. Triangular hoes: Also called Dutch hoes, warren hoes or ridging hoes, these tools have a blade shaped like a triangle or heart. Triangular hoes are also designed to be pulled in a single direction, often for creating furrows in which to plant seeds. Scuffle/stirrup hoes: Scuffle hoes have a smaller angle between head and handle than the classic draw hoe, making it easier to use a push-and-pull motion to run over the top layer of soil quickly. Scuffle hoes can be shaped like a loop, ring, or the stirrup on a horse saddle. While most types of hoes can be used for weeding, its ability to cut both ways makes a scuffle hoe the most popular for weeding, so much so that some are simply labeled “weeders.” The best hoes for weeding A diamond-head hoe, which is a favorite of Joe Lamp’l, a gardening expert and host of PBS’ “Growing a Greener World,” is sharpened on all four sides, so it quickly severs shallow-rooted weeds. Lamp’l has said that using a diamond-shaped winged weeder “actually has [him] looking forward to weeding.” Hoes with narrow blades like the 55-inch carbon steel Ashman are great for getting in tight spaces, such as between rows of plants and fragile seedlings. Some looped scuffle hoes have a hinge that allows them to wiggle back and forth like a dashboard hula girl (inspiring the makers of the Hula-Ho 54-inch weeder cultivator). This tool is best for those tiny weeds that show up after you till the soil. Easy to use, they save time and stress on your back. Choosing a comfortable garden hoe More than almost any other garden tool, one size does not fit all. A garden hoe needs to be the right size and shape for your individual body so that you can work comfortably. You won’t want or be able to work very long if your back aches from bending over into an awkward position or you have trouble gripping the handle. For proper form, you should be standing up straight while working a hoe, so it’s important to get a handle that’s long enough. The tip should come close to your upper chest when fully outstretched. The majority come in lengths from 54-60 inches. If you’re tall, you may want to look for a longer handle, such as this 68-inch Dutch hoe. This triangular hoe has the added feature of teeth that help pull up stubborn weeds. Wooden handles are softer and more comfortable to hold but make the tool heavier. Aluminum hoes are much lighter, but make sure the rubberized grip or handhold is in the right position for your hands, or you could end up with uncomfortably cold hands or have trouble gripping the tool. How to clear weeds with a garden hoe One of the most useful things a garden hoe allows you to do is proactively control the weeds over a large patch of ground or between rows of plants in a vegetable garden. This is easiest when the ground is soft but not soggy. You can use this method on bare ground or in mulched areas. Standing up straight, stretch the hoe away from you and place it down so that the blade sits just below the surface of the soil in the area to be weeded. Dig very lightly and use a push-and-pull motion as if you’re mopping the floor. This will sever weeds that are rooted just under the surface, and they should pop out with very little effort. Doing this on a warm dry day ensures the weeds wither and die quickly. Keep working systematically over an area with the blade slightly under the soil surface until you’ve cleared the area. When you’re done, you can use a rake over the area to gather the weeds you’ve just released from the soil or you can leave the weeds there to shrivel and dry out. Leaving the weeds does no harm and adds beneficial organic matter back into the soil like a natural mulch. Garden hoes are generally used as preventative medicine when it comes to weeds. Once weeds have gotten very large or if your soil is compacted or dry, you may have to switch methods. Also, weeds with a strong taproot like dandelion and pigweed are best removed by hand, as their roots can extend deep into the ground; chopping off their tops doesn’t help. Other weeds propagate with a rhizome or bulb system (such as the intrepid Oxalis). For these stubborn weeds, use a soil knife to loosen the soil enough to pull out their entire root system. Maintaining your garden hoe If you’ve ever tried to cut a tomato with a dull kitchen knife, you know the importance of keeping knives sharpened. A weeding hoe is designed to slice weeds in a back-and-forth motion (and not for heavy digging), so your job will be much easier if you start with a sharp blade. You can invest in a tool sharpener to maintain all your household blades, including kitchen knives, or get your tools professionally sharpened. This service is usually available through your local hardware store. Rachel Boller is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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