A comfortable and well-designed hoe lets you tend to your garden without straining your back or blistering your palms.
A good hoe can turn gardening from a tedious, time-consuming task to something you actually enjoy.
If you struggle to keep your garden weed-free, or need to prepare an overgrown allotment for planting, this buying guide is for you.
I recommend the best garden hoes for different kinds of gardening needs in the UK, from removing weeds to loosening hard packed ground. I also explain the different types of garden hoes and how to choose the right hoe for your garden.
Features to Consider When Choosing a Garden Hoe
A. Type of Hoe
I can’t possibly cover the many different types of gardening hoes; there are dozens of them. But there are a few common types you should be familiar with as each is suited to a specific type of gardening task.
One of our favourites is the Dutch hoe. It has a blade that cuts through the soil and uproots weeds on both the forward and backward strokes. A Dutch hoe is suitable for removing weeds on soft soils. It’s also a great way to aerate your garden.
The other common type is a grub hoe. It has a much bigger and wider blade than the Dutch hoe. The blade is set at a right angle to the handle, so that when you swing down it cuts into the soil. You then pull back to grab soil, weeds and roots.
A grub hoe is suitable for uprooting stubborn weeds and large roots. It also digs easily into hard packed ground to loosen the soil. If you have an overgrown garden or plan to turn part of your lawn into a garden, a grub hoe is what you need.
You’ll also come across tined hoes with two or three prongs. These pronged varieties are great for loosening soil and removing weeds before planting. Once you plant, a Dutch hoe is the best tool for delicately removing weeds without harming plants.
For small gardens such as those contained in boxes, consider getting a hand hoe. It’s small and designed to be held in one hand.
Check the length of the handle as well as its grip. Both are essential for comfortable gardening.
An adequately long handle keeps you from bending too much and straining your back. A long handle, especially on a Dutch hoe, is also great for reaching deep into the garden and under plants.
Handles on Dutch hoes can be as long as 170cm. Grub hoes tend to have a shorter handle between 120 and 140cm. You have to bend a little to comfortably dig into the ground and pull the hoe back.
If you are unsure which handle length is ideal for you, err on the side of buying one that’s too long. That way, you can still use the hoe by holding it lower on the handle.
As for grip, I love hoes that incorporate a soft grip design. It’s a blessing especially when you have to garden for hours. In addition to preventing blisters, it keeps your hands from slipping and gives you more leverage when pushing or pulling the blade through soil.
Finally, check how heavy the hoe is. A lightweight hoe will be easier on your hands and back. You can garden for hours without getting tired. A light design is also ideal if you have reduced body strength, because of age or health.
A hoe’s weight comes down to the type of materials it’s made with, particularly the handle. The blade on most hoes is stainless steel to ensure durability and keep out rust.
The handle can be aluminium, wood, steel or fiberglass. Aluminium and fiberglass make for a lighter hoe. Wood and steel handles are heavier.
For a Dutch hoe, it’s easy to get a hoe that’s under 1kg in weight. The lightweight design makes Dutch hoes great for everyday use.
Grub hoes are heavier because of the bigger blade and wooden handle. Look for one that’s 2-3kg heavy.
For an ultra-light option, get a hand hoe.
Best Garden Hoes: Top 5 Reviews
1. Spear & Jackson Select Stainless Dutch Hoe
The Spear & Jackson select stainless Dutch hoe is one of the best Dutch hoes, and the best hoe overall for everyday gardening.
It’s taller than almost any other hoe with an overall length of 167cm. Despite the long handle, it weighs less than a kilo thanks to the aluminium shaft. So it feels very comfortable and balanced in your hands.
The long soft grip at the top of the handle provides a comfortable place to hold for gardeners of different heights.
The stainless steel head cuts through soil easily while the long handle lets you garden comfortable without straining your back. It’s also easy to reach deeper into the garden and under thick plants.
What I like about it:
- Long handle is suitable for gardeners of all heights.
- Durable and rust-resistant stainless steel head.
- Soft grip to prevent blisters and chafing on hands.
2. Stanley FATMAX Fiberglass Garden Hoe
If you are shopping for a grub hoe, the Stanley FATMAX is one of the lightest ones around. It weighs just 2kg, which is light for a grub handle.
The secret is the steel-reinforced fiberglass handle. It adds strength to the hoe without weighing it down.
As the product name suggests, the Stanley FATMAX has a thick handle that improves grip. This allows you to dig into the ground and grub soil, roots and weeds with added force. If you are digging trenches, making deep holes, digging up roots and deep weeds or loosing hard ground, this is one of the best hoes.
One downside of the chunky handle is that gardeners with dainty hand, particularly women, may find it a bit uncomfortable to use.
The hoe’s overall length is 148cm, which is suitable even for taller users. Two grips, one at the top and the other further down the shaft, provide a strong non-slip grip on both hands when dropping, pushing or pulling the hoe.
The only complaint I have about the Stanley FATMAX is the price tag. If you are shopping on a budget, check our next pick below.
What I like about it:
- Sturdy and lightweight steel and fiberglass construction.
- Gripped handle.
- Stainless steel blade.
- Long handle.
3. Harbour Housewares Full Size Azada Garden Digging Hoe
If you are looking for a cheaper grub handle, the Harbour Housewares Azada hoe is a great choice.
An Azada hoe is another name for a grub hoe. The Harbour Housewares Azada hoe comes with a traditional wooden handle.
The handle is 120cm long and has a tapered design that holds the head securely at the bottom.
At 2.2kg, the Harbour Housewares hoe is slightly heavier than the Stanley FATMAX, but not by much. Most gardeners find it light enough for hours of comfortable gardening.
The forged steel blade is sharpened at the edge to easily slice through soil. It makes easy work of hard ground, deep roots and weeds.
The handle is replaceable. So if it ever breaks, you simply buy another and slide it into the head.
What I like about it:
- Low price.
- Sharp steel blade for fast and easy tilling.
- Well-balanced design that reduces strain on arms, shoulders and back.
4. GARDENA combisystem Hand Hoe
If you have a small garden, a hand hoe is the best tool for the job. It’s more delicate than a full size hoe and gives you greater precision to avoid damaging plants.
The GARDENA hand hoe is part of their combisystem range of tools that lets you combine different handles and heads.
The hand hoe comes with a short removable handle that you can replace with a longer Gardena handle when you don’t want to bend or kneel when gardening.
The head itself is a dual design with a grub hoe on one side and two prongs on the other. Use the flat blade to dig up roots and loosen hard soil. Use the prongs to remove shallow weeds and aerate already loose soil.
The head is made with steel with Duroplast coating to make it rust-proof. It’s available in three designs: a 5cm wide flat blade with two prongs on the other side, a 6cm wide heart-shaped blade (perfect for soil preparation) with two prongs on the other side, and a wider 6.5cm wide flat blade with three prongs on the other side for larger gardens.
What I like about it:
- Removable and interchangeable handle.
- Rust-proof steel head.
5. Draper 85632 Digging Hoe
Our final pick is also a traditional grub hoe. The Draper 85632 Digging Hoe comes with a 120cm hard wood handle.
At 2kg, the hoe is perfectly suited for most gardeners. The weight is balanced nicely between the head and the handle, ensuring you don’t strain your arms and back.
The wide and sharp steel head is ideal for clearing a large untilled area. It easily digs up tree roots, uproots deep weeds and loosens packed dirt.
It’s also a great tool for digging trenches or holes.
One advantage of the Draper hoe over the Harbour Housewares Azada hoe is that the handle on the Draper hoe seems to be much stronger. Users have hit everything from rocks to big tree roots and the handle has stayed put.
You likely won’t need to buy a new handle any time soon.
What I like about it:
- Great for quickly clearing an overgrown allotment.
- Strong and lightweight.
- Sharp steel blade.
- Durable hard wood handle.