Dutch hoes On Test - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine

10 of the best garden hoes for 2020

Our expert pick of the best Dutch hoes for your garden.

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A garden hoe may be a relatively simple tool but it’s ideal for keeping on top of unwanted weeds, without disturbing what lies beneath. 

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Hoeing regularly can help you banish annual weeds, clear away any leaves where larger tools – like a rake – cannot fit and neaten your beds and borders. 

There are a number of garden hoes on the market and they can vary in price, materials, length and blade shape. Our gardening experts have trialled and tested a range of brands to find the Dutch hoe that best suits you and your garden’s needs. 

In this article, we review the best garden hoes and clearly outline the pros and cons of each one. We have considered value for money, durability, comfort and ease of use before rating them out of five according to their performance. Only tools scoring at least 4 out of 5 stars have made it onto our recommended list.

We suggest using this rating as a guide, while bearing in mind where and how you are going to use a hoe to help you choose the right one for the job. 

If persistent weeds are a problem, you may consider a Dutch hoe with teeth to help you hook out tougher patches. However, if you are planning to use it as a tool to tickle soil and neaten beds, then a wider blade could make the work faster. 

If weeding is your next job to tackle in the garden, take a look at our best hand trowels and garden kneelers to make the task as quick and comfortable as possible. 

Jump to: 

What is a garden hoe used for?

A garden hoe can have a number of uses from helping keep on top of weeds, to clearing fallen leaves and neatening beds and borders. Because of its sharp, wide blade, a Dutch hoe is a great tool for severing the roots of weeds as it slides just under the surface of the soil. 

The long handle of a garden hoe also makes it more comfortable to use than other handheld de-weeding tools because you can work standing up straight, rather than bent over. 

To make tasks as easy as possible, hoe on warm, dry days so that weeds left on the soil surface quickly shrivel and die . These can then be left where they are or removed to make compost

Types of garden hoe

There are four main types of garden hoes; Dutch, draw, stirrup and heart-shaped. Each varies slightly in shape and can, therefore, be helpful for different tasks. 

  • Dutch hoe: This is the most common garden hoe and is often the easiest to use. Used standing upright, a Dutch hoe has a sharp, wide and open blade that skims just below the surface of the soil to sever weeds from their roots.
  • Draw hoe: A draw hoe is one of the more basic options available. It has a small rectangular paddle that meets the handle at 90° and is used in an up-and-down chopping motion.
  • Stirrup hoe: Used in a back-and-forth motion, the stirrup (or loop) hoe is a good choice if you have more stubborn or persistent weeds. The hoe gets its name because the blade looks like a stirrup on a horse’s saddle and the stirrup often pivots, cutting weeds on the push and pull stroke. 
  • Heart-shaped hoe: Helpful for breaking up hard or compacted soil, a heart-shaped hoe is also a good addition to your tools if you’re looking to make drills and furrows.

How to choose the best garden hoe

Handles

A good quality handle will ensure that the garden hoe is comfortable to use for longer periods of time. Handles are usually made of either wood or aluminium. 

Wooden handles feel warmer in the hand, and often have more give, but they can be a little heavier. Some wooden handles are even tapered to accommodate your hands – but this will only work if it is in the right place for you. 

This is the same when it comes to the plastic or rubber coatings on aluminium handles. Aluminium does tend to be lighter, but can be cold and offer less grip without these additional coatings. 

Bear in mind the length of the handle, too. If the handle is too short, you will have to lean – rather than standing up straight – and will likely tire quickly and strain your back. 

Blades

Hoe blades are typically made of carbon or stainless steel. Carbon does rust faster than stainless steel unless it is looked after or comes with an epoxy or powder coating. It can, however, be kept sharp easily by regular sharpening. 

Stainless steel will naturally say shiny for longer but they are much harder to sharpen, if they need it. 

In terms of shape, many Dutch hoes have a simple triangular or stirrup shape. Some also have teeth on the front or back blade to increase the surface area and make slicing through the soil easier. 

Choosing the best garden hoe for the task

When weeding around seedlings or dense borders, it’s usually best to use a hoe that’s lightweight and well balanced so it’s easy to manoeuvre. A small or narrow blade will also help navigate the plot without damaging any plant stems. 

Alternatively, if you’re hoeing over bare soil or a larger plot, a larger, wider blade will save you time. 

How to look after your garden hoe

Being able to hoe effectively includes the need to look after and maintain your hoe. Taking the time to look after your hoe will help keep it sharp and in good quality for longer, saving you money in the future. 

Those with carbon steel blades need to be regularly sharpened in order to allow them to efficiently slice through the soil. 

Before sharpening, clean the blade with soapy water and dry it off. You can then sharpen the hoe’s blade with an oiled sharpening stone

Once you have finished sharpening, oil the blade and wooden handle with Boiled Linseed oil and then wipe off any excess. This will stop the wood drying out.

Our experts would suggest repeating this process at the end of the gardening season. Before hanging up your hoe for winter, smooth out any rough patches on the wooden handle with sandpaper and sharpen and oil the blade and handle.

Best garden hoes to buy at a glance

Through extensive testing, we have determined 10 of the best garden hoes to help you maintain your garden. 

All of the garden hoes within this list received a rating of four (out of five stars) or above so we can be certain of their high quality and performance. 

Best garden hoes to buy in 2020

The best garden hoe for you and your garden will depend on what sort of task you would like to tackle and your garden layout. 

For example, keep in mind the size of the bed you want to hoe. For weaving between plants or in smaller beds, you may want to consider two of our best buys – the DeWit Dutch Hoe and Burgon and Ball Dutch Hoe – both of which are narrow and easy to manoeuvre. 

However, if weeds are persistent, you may want to think about buying a Dutch hoe with teeth on the front or back blade. These are designed to hook out weeds and should slice through the soil more easily. The hand-forged blade of the Sneeboer Royal Dutch Hoe has sharp teeth and cut effortlessly throughout our testing. 

Find out how our top-rated garden hoes fared in our expert testing – including a pros and cons list for each one.

1

DeWit Dutch Hoe

Our rating: 5 out of 5

DeWit Dutch Hoe - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine
DeWit Dutch Hoe – BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine

Pros:

  • Comfortable and lightweight
  • Smooth hoeing action
  • Long shaft is kind to back
  • Hand forged and good quality
  • Excellent value for quality and performance
  • Long warranty

Our testers found this garden hoe was lightweight to use and that the smooth ash handle was comfortable to hold while manoeuvring. The sharp carbon-steel blade is narrow enough for small gaps between plants and has a clean cutting action. It feels robust and has a lifetime guarantee.

Read the full DeWit Dutch Hoe review


2

Sneeboer Royal Dutch Hoe

Our rating: 5 out of 5

Sneeboer Royal Dutch Hoe - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine
Sneeboer Royal Dutch Hoe

Pros:

  • Toothed blade cuts effortlessly and smoothly
  • Long shaft kind to back
  • Handle is a joy to use
  • Light
  • Built to last

The hand-forged blade has sharp teeth on the front as well as a hook on the back, giving the blade a larger surface area. It slices through all types of ground effortlessly. The long ash handle is easy on the back and the L-shaped grip is comfortable to hold, making the Dutch hoe easy to manoeuvre. Although pricier than other models, we thought it was worth the money and judged this a Best Buy.

Read the full Sneeboer Royal Dutch Hoe review


3

Burgon and Ball Dutch Hoe – RHS Endorsed

Our rating: 4.75 out of 5

Burgon and Ball Dutch Hoe - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine
Burgon and Ball Dutch Hoe

Pros:

  • Robust and comfortable
  • Elegant but sturdy
  • Cuts smoothly
  • Easy to manoeuvre around plants and rows

Cons:

  • Catches on thicker clumps

Burgon and Ball’s stainless steal blade is very sharp and slices through light weeds easily, although it can catch on tougher patches. Our testers thought it felt good quality and the FSC wooden handle was a comfortable length for working with. There’s also a lifetime guarantee on the hoe and we judged this a Best Buy.

Read the full Burgon and Ball Dutch Hoe review


4

Spear and Jackson Kew Gardens Collection Stainless Dutch Hoe

Our rating: 4.75 out of 5

Spear & Jackson Kew Gardens Collection Stainless Dutch Hoe - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine
Spear & Jackson Kew Gardens Collection Stainless Dutch Hoe

Pros:

  • Sharp angled blade
  • Easy to manoeuvre making it comfortable to use
  • Long handle – kind to back
  • Robust and well made

Cons:

  • Hoeing action is not as smooth as the other hoes

This garden hoe felt robust and good quality. It cut smoothly though most ground although could catch on bigger clumps. The long, FSC weatherproofed ash handle is a good length but our testers found the leather wrist strap got in the way, although this can be removed. The blade is stainless steel blade and the tool comes with a 10-year warranty. We awarded this Best Buy status.

Read the full Spear and Jackson Dutch Hoe review


5

Sneeboer Dutch Push Hoe

Our rating: 4.5 out of 5

Sneeboer Dutch Push Hoe - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine
Sneeboer Dutch Push Hoe

Pros:

  • Sharp, open blade
  • Long handle
  • Comfortable in the hand
  • Hoes smoothly and easily
  • Robust and built to last

Cons:

  • Expensive for the overall performance

Sneeboer’s Dutch Push Hoe is easy to manoeuvre and moves well through borders. The waxed ash handle is long and the rounded end is comfortable to use. The hand-forged stainless-steel blade is open and guaranteed for 10 years, although it’s worth noting that the handle is only guaranteed for one.


6

Fiskars Xact Dutch Hoe

Our rating: 4.25 out of 5

Fiskars Xact Dutch Hoe - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine
Fiskars Xact Dutch Hoe

Pros:

  • Comfortable weight and length
  • Sharp, efficient blade
  • Robust and well made
  • Handle end digs in hand

Cons:

  • Handle grip not suitable for all users

The hardened aluminium shaft on this Dutch hoe is well balanced, but the grip is not in the right place for all users, meaning the handle can dig in while working. The sharp blade has teeth on the inside and delivers clean and smooth action. The tool is well made and comes with a 25-year warranty.


7

Wolf Garten Multi-Change Dutch Hoe

Our rating: 4.25 out of 5

Wolf Garten Multi-Change Dutch Hoe - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine
Wolf Garten Multi-Change Dutch Hoe

Pros:

  • Sharp and easy to use
  • Robust
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Handle end could dig in to palm
  • Blade could catch due to its steep angle
  • Draper Stainless Steel Soft Grip Hoe

The rustproof handle gripped well and comfortably thanks to the plastic sleeve and it can be interchanged with multiple tools. The steel garden hoe blade clicked in easily and could cut through roots, although the steep angle meant it would sometimes catch. The tool is guaranteed for 35 years.


8

Draper Stainless Steel Soft Grip Hoe

Our rating: 4.25 out of 5

Draper Stainless Steel Soft Grip Hoe - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine
Draper Stainless Steel Soft Grip Hoe

Pros:

  • Light and comfortable
  • Good handle length
  • Blade manoeuvres well
  • Excellent value

Cons:

  • Blade angle means it can slip and catch on some soils
  • Grip could be longer to accommodate both hands

Our testers found the stainless steel blade sliced weeds smoothly and was easily controllable, but it could occasionally slip. The tubular steel handle has a comfortable soft grip coating but is only long enough for one hand. The handle is also blunt on the end, meaning it can catch during use. The hoe has a lifetime warranty.


9

Kent and Stowe Garden Life Stainless Steel Dutch Hoe

Our rating: 4.25 out of 5

Kent and Stowe Garden Life Stainless Steel Dutch Hoe - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine
Kent and Stowe Garden Life Stainless Steel Dutch Hoe

Pros:

  • Very light
  • Comfortable handle
  • Good size for getting around plants
  • Easy to manoeuvre

Cons:

  • Handle too short for most users over 5’ 6”
  • Catches on thicker clumps

This tool’s short length meant it was easy to control and the stainless steel blade sliced smoothly through light weeds. Tougher clumps of ground could get caught on the open hoe but it felt good quality and is guaranteed for 15 years.


10

Wilkinson Sword Stainless Steel Dutch Hoe

Our rating: 4 out of 5

Wilkinson Sword Carbon Steel Dutch Hoe - BBC Gardeners' World Magazine
Wilkinson Sword Carbon Steel Dutch Hoe

Pros:

  • Sharp rustproof blade
  • Good handle length
  • Smooth handle

Cons:

  • Handle slightly thick
  • Struggles with tougher weeds

Our testers found this garden hoe comfortable to use and the smooth, weatherproofed handle was a good length, if a little thick. The stainless steel blade is sharp but not as smooth as other models tested and has a tendency to snag. The tool felt good quality and has a 10-year warranty.


How we tested garden hoes

When testing these Dutch hoes, our experts consider a range of variables including price, comfort, the shape and quality of the blade, and value for money. These were all considered in the context of where in the garden they could best be used and for what jobs. 

With the help of Richmond Park in London, all the garden hoes were trialled and tested in different situations, such as heavily weeded bare soil and amongst tightly planted bedding plants to see how well they maneuvered, and all the hoes were used on tough patches of weeds to see if they would catch. 

Finally, our testers used their expertise to assess the hoes according to their price, any warranty that is offered and how durable the materials are. For example, the blade and socket on our Best Buy winner, the DeWit Dutch Hoe, were judged to be extremely sturdy and should last forever – if well looked after. For under £30, our experts deemed it fantastic value for money. 

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Once the test is complete, each product is rated out of five stars and the garden hoes that really impress our experts are awarded Best Buy status. Each review is broken down into concise pros and cons lists to help you decide which garden hoe is best for your garden.