Garden Tool Series – Hoes

There are long-handled hoes and short hand-held hoes and they both perform several functions.

Draw Hoe

A draw hoe’s heavy, broad blade and straight edge is set at right angles to the handle and is probably the most familiar for gardening. It chops into the ground and draws the soil toward the user or pushes soil away as needed. Generally useful for mounding soil, cultivating around plants, and removing weeds. The draw hoe is also known by other names:  paddle, chopping and planter.

Stirrup Hoe

This hoe has a stirrup shaped blade that is sharp on both sides and is used primarily for cutting weeds off at the ground.  The blade can be pushed and pulled so that the back and forth motion cuts the weeds just under the soil. It is especially useful for stubborn weeds.

Onion Hoe

This hoe has a long thin blade designed for use in weeding in narrow spaces. The blade runs parallel to the surface of soil and allows the user to avoid back strain from bending over.

Dutch Hoe

The Dutch hoe has a triangular shaped, pointed blade allowing the user to dig down under stubborn weeds and pull it out of the ground. It comes with both long and short handles. The short-handled version is useful for weeding while sitting, kneeling or using in raised beds.


The use of hoes predates the plough and goes back to 8th century BC. Originally short-handled, these tools took a toll on backs and eventually evolved into the long-handled tools we know today.  In 1975, California banned the short-handled hoe for agricultural purposes.  Today, it is most useful when managing weeds in a waist-high raised bed that doesn’t require bending.