How to use a hoe

Every gardener needs a hoe and spring is the time to put it to good use, as annual weeds will have begun to germinate. Knowing how to use a hoe is key, and there are several ways to do it.

When hoeing, aim to sever the top growth from the roots, just below the soil surface, then leave it in the sun to wither and die. Hoeing is best done when the soil is dry as this creates a ‘dust mulch’. This inhibits the germination of new weeds. Long-handled hoes are easier on the back, whereas a short-handled ‘onion hoe’ is better for closely planted areas, where you don’t want to damage nearby plants. Hoeing won’t kill deep-rooted or perennial weeds – these need to be dug up by hand.

Hone your hoeing technique with our guide on how to use a hoe, below.

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Sweeping

Sweep a Dutch hoe with flowing movements over soil to brush the surface and slice the tops from weeds. Very little effort is required if the hoe is used properly.

Slicing

Slice the tops of weeds with a draw hoe by bringing the hoe towards you. You can change the angle to accommodate slopes where plants have been earthed up.

Turning

Turn over a Dutch hoe and you can use it to make a seed drill (shallow trench) to sow seeds into. This method works best for seeds that need to be covered well.

Covering

Cover seed sown in a drill with a draw hoe to prevent bending down. This works well for large seeds, such as peas, that need plenty of soil over them.

For more ways to improve your gardening skills, take a look at our 'Techniques' section.

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