Garden hoes and cultivators are popular garden tools that you can use for some of the same purposes.
For weeding, mixing soil, or breaking and loosening dried soil, there are hoes and cultivators that can do the job. But different tools have different strengths. And depending on the type of jobs you need the tool for, you may prefer either a specific type of hoe or a cultivator.
So in this article, I take a look at garden hoes vs cultivators and show you the jobs they are best suited for to help you make the right choice. And I’ll show you some of my favorite tools.
Let’s dive in.
What Is A Garden Hoe?
You can use a garden hoe for weeding, as well as moving and shaping soil. Garden hoes usually have a long handle that you grip with two hands while working, although you can also get short one-handed versions. At the bottom of the handle is a blade that varies in shape depending on the type of hoe.
Related: How To Use A Garden Hoe
The different blade shapes make the tool better suited to certain tasks, and it’s important to consider the jobs you want to use the hoe for before deciding on a type to buy.
Here are some common types of garden hoe and their uses:
A draw hoe is the type of hoe that many people imagine when thinking of a garden hoe. A draw hoe features a rectangular blade at the end of the handle that protrudes at a 90-degree angle. You use a draw hoe by pulling it towards you, scraping through the soil surface, and cutting the weed stems.
You can also use a draw hoe for general gardening work, such as moving the soil and creating furrows for planting seeds.
The design of a Dutch hoe makes it a good choice for weeding. A Dutch hoe tool has a forward-facing blade that allows you to cut weeds with a push-pull motion while standing up. You push the blade just beneath the soil surface to cut the weeds.
Because a Dutch hoe is easy to use while standing up, it’s less tiring on your body, particularly your back.
A Stirrup hoe is also known as an action hoe, loop hoe, scuffle hoe, or hula hoe. As the name suggests, a stirrup hoe features a metal loop at the end of the handle that resembles a stirrup.
A stirrup hoe is very effective at killing weeds. The head is usually double-bladed, and you cut weeds just beneath the soil surface as you push and pull the hoe.
But a stirrup hoe is less effective at general gardening work than other hoe types, being unsuited for digging and manipulating the soil.
A grub hoe is a useful and versatile tool used in agriculture in many parts of the world. You can use a grub hoe to chop through sod to clear an area for planting or patio stones, or for tilling the soil.
You chop the grub hoe into the ground like you wield an axe, bringing it up to waist height each time. A grub hoe is a good replacement for a shovel when breaking hard ground and digging trenches. You can also use a grub hoe to dig out weeds with deep roots.
My Favorite Garden Hoes
These are the garden hoes I recommend:
Truper Tru Pro Garden Hoe
Truper Tru Garden Hoe (Amazon)
This garden hoe is useful for weeding, moving soil, and creating furrows for planting seeds.
The hoe has a 6-inch head at the end of a 60-inch North American white ash handle. The white ash gives the handle strength and flexibility, but it’s also lightweight so it won’t tire you out.
The high-quality build of this garden hoe means you can put it through hard use without fear of it breaking.
True Temper Looped Action Hoe
True Temper Action Hoe (Amazon)
This hoe is ideal for weeding. The looped steel blade easily cuts under the soil surface to sever weed stems from the roots. And unlike a regular garden hoe, it minimizes soil disturbance.
The action hoe has a durable 54-inch hardwood handle with stainless steel head. A cushion grip makes it comfortable to use the tool during long work sessions. The tool is lightweight to hold and easy to use but still sturdy and heavy-duty.
What Are Garden Cultivators Used For?
Garden cultivators are used for mixing soil with fertilizer, compost, and other amendments. Other uses for cultivators include loosening compacted soil for better aeration and water access, improving drainage, and preparing for planting.
Garden cultivators come in two different types, mechanical and manual. They both do a similar job, but the work is done easier using a machine and often quicker, particularly when you have a large area to cover.
Mechanical cultivators have metal blades that dig into the ground as you walk behind them. The blades can cut up and bury small weeds growing between plant rows.
You can use a hand cultivator for cultivating the soil in small areas such as flower beds or between the plants in your vegetable garden. With a hand cultivator, it’s easy to aerate the soil and work in compost and other amendments if necessary.
You can also use the tool to help you pull weeds by loosening the soil around the stem and roots. But you have to get down on your hands and knees to use a hand cultivator. So it’s only really suitable for small jobs.
You can also get manual cultivators with a long handle so you can stand while you work.
My Favorite Cultivators
Earthwise Electric Cultivator
Earthwise Electric Cultivator (Amazon)
With its 6 powerful steel tines, this corded electric cultivator easily breaks up the soil, even when it’s hard and compacted. The Earthwise cultivator makes it easy to prepare garden beds for planting, and bed cleanup at the end of the season is a quick job.
It’s a lightweight machine that’s easy to carry and use. And with its 6-inch transport wheels, it takes little effort to push and maneuver the unit while cultivating the soil.
DeWit 5-Tine Cultivator
DeWit 5-Tine Cultivator (Amazon)
The Dewitt 5-tine cultivator has an extended reach over hand cultivators, making it easier to break up and aerate the soil without getting down on your hands and knees.
The ergonomic handle makes it comfortable to use with one or two hands allowing you to pull and push with more power. And the quality construction — tempered boron steel tines and ash hardwood handle — will give you years of use around your garden.
Garden Hoe vs Cultivator
Because they disturb the soil less, garden hoes such as stirrup hoes and dutch hoes are often better weeding tools than cultivators. Less soil disturbance means fewer weed seeds are brought to the surface where they can germinate. But it does require more effort to use a hoe for weeding a large area than using a mechanical cultivator. Manual cultivators are also better than a hoe at helping you dig and pull weeds from the ground with their roots.
Cultivators are a superior choice to garden hoes for cultivating the soil. Cultivators make it easy to aerate the soil and mix in amendments.
A cultivator is not as good as a digging hoe, such as a grub hoe, for breaking new ground. Cultivators are tools that work best when mixing non-compacted soil in flower beds and raised beds, often struggling when faced with hard soil.