What Are The Different Types of Garden Hoes 

By  Enda

We explain the different types of garden hoes that are used in the United Kingdom. A hoe is a basic hand garden tool which comprises of some type of shaft and a blade for going through the soil. You would think it wouldn't be too complicated to find one of these and just buy it.

However, there a number of different types of hoes, and each has a slightly different use. The difficult part is that they do get called slightly different names by different people and the tool manufacturers. That is a recipe for confusion, so hopefully we can help put an end to that.

Some hoes are used to dig up ground, especially harder and more compacted soils. Some people use a hoe for general weeding and others use a hoe to make drills for planting seeds. Hilling is about piling soil around the base of plants. Making drills is about using a hoe to dig narrow furrows or shallow trenches for planting seeds or bulbs. 

So depending on your purpose, you simply need to know what task you want to complete, and then pick the best hoe for that job.

Various Uses of Garden Hoes

For just a moment forget about the different types of hoes as it will make your life easier in the long term. There are basically 5 types of actions that you can do with a hoe. We have explained those just below.

  1. A Digging Hoe - As the name would suggest, this type of hoe is used for digging or tilling and primarily uses a chopping action.
  2. A Draw Hoe - These are almost exclusively used for weeding or chopping up larger areas of soil, and they use a pull and scraping action to make them work most effectively
  3. A Flat Hoe - these use both a push and pull action. The blade sits flat on the soil and again these are used mainly for weeding
  4. A Sweeping Hoe -  With these you hold the handle straight and then use a sweeping action and again these are used mainly for weeding
  5. A Reciprocating Hoe -  Also known as an Oscillating hoe, this type of hoe has a blade that moves, and they use a scrubbing action, and again mainly used for weeding.

So in simple terms one type of hoe is used for digging, and the other types are used for weeding. It is only the action that you use that makes them different in terms of use. So why have different actions?

Working on a wide area such as a new plot means you can use any type of hoe. However in a garden border, a vegetable plot or a garden bed, you would have to be more careful, and space is also restricted. That is why picking the right garden hoe is actually very important.

Different Types of Hoes

There are different types of hoes and we have listed those below:

  1. The Digging hoe - These are used for general purpose digging and come in a variety of shapes and sizes
  2. The Dutch hoe - uses a shallow angled blade with a front cutting edge and used to remove weeds and to work between seedlings and established plants and shrubs
  3. The Draw hoe - this is also known as a digging hoe and typically this hoe is used in harder ground.  It has a wide downward facing blade set at right angles to the main shaft and used using a chopping action to loosen and break up soil
  4. The Swoe - these are ideal for use in confined spaces such as in and amongst established plants. They have an angled head and chamfered edges
  5. The Oscillating hoe - Also known as a reciprocating hoe, this type of hoe has a blade that moves, and they use a scrubbing action, and again mainly used for weeding.
  6. The Warren hoe -  this one is easily identified as it has a "V" shaped blade and no cutting edge. The blade is set at right angles to the shaft and is used for making seed drills as well as grading soil and backfilling.
  7. The Onion hoe - as the name would suggest this is used for working between rows of onions. It has a winged style head that lets the hoe work just under the surface of the soil
  8. The Cultivator - It is not a hoe as such, but does exactly the same purpose. It helps break up the soil using 3 prongs on one side, and a hoe on the other side. They are available as telescopic options

The Digging Hoe

digging how, grub hoe, mattock

The digging hoe remains one of the most popular of all the hoes on the UK market. The most popular will have a forged head and a wooden handle.

These are the best all round all terrain tool for general surface ground work. They are also known as Grub hoes or Mattocks.

The cutting blade is tough and sharp and ideal to chop through overgrown ground cover, small roots etc.  The long shaft means you don't have to bend over, which can be really tough on the back and knees.

These can also be used for making trenches and furrows.

The Dutch Hoe

Spear & Jackson 3135EL/09 Select Stainless Dutch Hoe

The Dutch hoe is also a popular choice for many UK gardeners. This hoe also has a long handle and at the end there is a sharp blade.

That blade is used to move through the top of the soil and helps a lot with the removal of weeds. This is the main reason that UK gardeners buy this type of utility hoe.

You operate these with a simple push and pull movement, and the better quality versions of these have chamfered blades that allow cutting of the soil both forwards and backwards.

The Draw Hoe

Silverline 235831 Draw Hoe 1350 mm

This hoe has a long handle and the blade sits at right angles to the shaft. As the name would suggest, when you are using it, you chop it down and into the soil. You the pull (draw) the head toward yourself and break up clods into the furrow.

Generally speaking it is a good all-purpose tool and good for breaking up soil, but not suitable for finer work such as working between rows or in borders.

You can also buy these with a short handle if you don't mind kneeling down and getting close to the soil.

Draw hoes are ideal for breaking up larger areas such as when you are planting in the Spring. They are also good for digging and moving piles of dirt and chopping out really big weeds. Gardeners also tend to use these for breaking up clods of soil. 

The Swoe Hoe

Wilkinson Sword Stainless Steel Swoe Style Hoe

This Swoe hoe is the best solution for use in confined spaces such as in and amongst established plants, bushes or shrubs.

These are quite particular in design, and most of this type are triangular in shape at the blade end. The smaller style sideways head allows for better and much easier use in and amongst plants

This smaller head also allows you to weed without disturbing the plants or their root systems.

Many people use this type of hoe to weed borders and beds without having to walk on them.

The Oscillating Hoe

Kent & Stowe Stainless Steel Oscillating Hoe

This hoe helps you cut and weed using a push pull motion. The oscillating hoe delivers maneuverability as well as agility with the upright luxury of a long shafted tool.

Gardeners in the UK likes these because they are the perfect height for easy working eliminating the need for bending and therefore reduces back strain.

Oscillating hoes can be more effective than any other hoe, as they have the secondary effect of bringing stones and debris in the soil, to the surface.

This hoe digs into the soil both pushing and pulling it due to the small oscillation (movement) that angles the blade downwards as it moves either way in just a few strokes.

The Warren  Hoe


Some UK gardeners much prefer the Warren hoe style. They argue that they are much better than a flat edge hoe.

That is because they cut deeper under weeds and it's heavier so you just have to guide it like a pendulum, and the hoe will do the rest.

This type of hoe is also a very good choice for This is when you really want to weed, furrow, or break up some hard dirt. That is mainly down to the sharp blade, and the heavier weight of this type of hoe.

The Onion Hoe

Spear & Jackson Kew Gardens 3110KEW Stainless Steel Onion Hoe

Well the name of this type of hoe really does say it all. For any vegetable gardeners who grow onions, then one of these will prove to be very useful

As a general purpose item, this tool is very useful when working in borders and particularly for use between closely planted crops or plants.

Buyers also use this to reach over in borders and avoid having to get down on your hands and knees so often. They also use this hoe in raised beds as they have to be selective as to what is actually dug up

You can buy these with a long handle or a shorter style handle.

The Cultivator Hoe

Fiskars Combined Hoe for planting flowers or weeding weeds

This hoe is a combination hoe for versatile use in the garden, and is ideal for planting flowers or herding weeds

It is a combination of a set of forks and a digging hoe, so quite a handy tool to have around the garden - it is certainly a very popular choice with many British gardeners.

You can buy these as  short or long handles. These are particularly used quite a lot by vegetable gardeners or by anyone who has an allotment.


I am someone who enjoys a little gardening. Now I am not someone who spend hours in the garden, but I do like both my front and back gardens to look really nice. Well kept lawns, neatly trimmed hedges, and borders filled with plants, make a huge difference, to how your property looks.

Enda McLarnon

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