Weeding Aids

The top five categories of weeding tools explained.

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Hoes come in many shapes and sizes. Look for one that lets you work upright and comfortably, and that has a blade you can keep sharp. Oscillating hoes, also called stirrup hoes, slice weeds with a rocking movement. You pull a swan neck hoe toward you, and its sharp blade cuts through weeds.

A wheel hoe has an oscillating or stationary hoe blade mounted on a wheel with two long handles. To use a wheel hoe effectively, set the blade so it rests about 1 inch below the soil surface. Then rock the blade back and forth through the soil—letting the blade rather than your strength push through the weeds. Many gardeners find a wheel hoe as easy to use—and much more pleasant—than a tiller for routine cultivation.

Tillers chop up weeds easily. But when used too frequently they can break down the texture of the soil and may harm earthworms and other soil dwellers. Use a tiller for major weeding removal jobs, rather than for routine weed control.

A flame weeder is a small propane torch used to get weeds where other tools do not work, such as along walls or between cracks in the patio. A flame weeder is not for burning weeds?merely holding the torch close to the weed dessicates and kills it.

Hand weeders come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, in styles old and new. The traditional forked dandelion digger remains an effective tool for popping dandelions and other weeds with long taproots out of the ground. The ball weeder has a large round center to give you even more leverage. The circle hoe skims beneath the surface of the soil, severing the roots.

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