Hoeing a garden is hard work, but sometimes, it’s necessary. It’s often the best way to get rid of stubborn weeds and move soil around the area. However, you may be wondering, how often do you actually need to hoe a garden?
You should hoe a garden every week, or every two weeks. Don’t wait until you see weeds—do it regularly and then again when the soil dries after it rains. Doing so will help you keep the weeds in your garden under control. Breaking up the soil will also help your young plants grow.
In this article, I’ll explain why you should hoe after rainfall, discuss the benefits of the practice, and whether you should use a hand fork. I’ll also list some of the best ways to make hoeing easier on your body, elucidate on whether the practice is safe for the disabled and elderly, and explain what to do if you’re finding it difficult. Read on to learn more.
Why Should You Hoe a Garden After It Rains?
One question you may be asking is why it’s important to hoe a garden after it rains. The answer is simple—after it rains, many seeds are blown around and knocked out of trees and watered by the rain. Hoeing after rainfall helps to kill these seeds before they become weeds that can strangle your plants and mess with the look and cleanliness of your garden.
Another reason people hoe after it rains is to break up the soil. Some don’t like the look of crusty soil or believe it’s detrimental to their plants. It is, indeed, harder for plants to break through hardened soil, but whether or not breaking up soil is worth it is arguable. It’s up to you whether you want to hoe after rainfall for this reason.
What Are the Benefits of Hoeing a Garden?
There are many benefits of hoeing a garden, including that it breaks up the soil, kills young weeds, keeps debris from piling up, and helps a gardener establish a routine.
It Breaks Up the Soil, Helping Your Plants Grow
As I said before, whether or not breaking up soil to allow sprouting plants to surface easier is worth it is disputed. However, if you believe it’s helpful, regularly hoeing will help keep your garden’s soil from becoming crusty.
If you want to learn more about soil crust, this article by King’s AgriSeeds has you covered.
It Kills Young Weeds Before They Establish Themselves
Rain, wind, and other forms of weather spread seeds. Passing animals also carry seeds in both their fur and their excrement. In truth, there are many ways in which seeds can get into your garden, and we’ll never know most of them. We know that hoeing regularly helps kill these young weeds before they become a problem.
It’s always better to tackle weeds when they’re young before they start damaging your plants. But do you know all the ways weeds affect your garden, your plants, and your property? If you don’t, you can learn more about it in this article by WeedingTech.
It Keeps Garden Debris From Piling Up
Cleaning regularly is a good idea, whether in your home or garden. When you keep up a cleaning or tidying routine, there’s less mess to deal with than if you left it and tried to deal with it all at once. Moreover, your garden will look clean most of the time instead of cycling between spotless and messy.
It Helps Establish a Gardening Routine
Those who are neurodivergent, disabled, or even simply retired know how important having a routine can be. The same is true of anyone practicing a hobby or learning a skill—for most people, having a routine is a good thing. Committing to hoeing regularly can help you create a schedule for caring for your garden and help bring structure to your day. It can also help you get outside and exercise more daily or weekly.
Should You Use a Hoe or a Hand Fork to Weed Your Garden?
If you’ve heard of a hoe, you’ve probably also heard of a hand fork. They’re sometimes called hand rakes, too, and essentially, they’re a small metal-tined rake that can be used to weed instead of a hoe.
Some tasks, such as those that take place between plants or in other small spaces, are better suited to using a hand rake. Others work better when you use a hoe, such as weeding large areas or breaking up soil.
Whether you use a hand rake or a hoe must be up to your discretion. No garden is the same, and we all have different space requirements. Additionally, you also may find it hard to use a hand fork if you have trouble spending long periods on your knees. If that’s the case, you might have a better time using a hoe. On the other hand, if your back is frequently sore, you may have an easier time with a hand rake—it’s all up to your circumstances.
Is a Hand Fork Considered a Digging Tool?
A hand fork is a digging tool because it’s used to break up and dig in the soil. You can read more about this topic in my article: Is A Hand Fork Considered A Digging Tool? Gardening Info
How To Make Hoeing Easier on Your Body
As we age or suffer injuries, it may become hard to use a hoe. This also might be true if you are disabled. A sore back doesn’t need any of these qualifications, either, and in such cases, you may be wondering if there’s something you can do to avoid aggravating your back.
If your back hurts after hoeing, you have options—you can use a dutch hoe instead, wear back support, avoid bending too deeply, wear proper shoes if you aren’t already, and try to hoe from solid ground.
Use a Dutch Hoe Instead
Dutch hoes are hoes that are pushed or pulled instead of being pulled, pushed, or swung into the soil like a regular hoe. Their heads have a blade that shears weeds off beneath the dirt, and the motions used to do so make them easier on the body.
If you’re struggling to get your hoeing done, try using a dutch hoe. They’re common tools that can be found at pretty much any home hardware or gardening store.
Wear Back Support, and Don’t Bend Too Deep
If lacking support is or might be the cause of your pain, you can purchase back braces or bandage wraps from your local pharmacy or a physiotherapy office to help with your pain. These support tools wrap around your back and cinch tight, giving you extra support so your muscles don’t get tired and you’re at a lower risk of injury.
Wear Proper Shoes
If you’re gardening in sandals or anything that isn’t a gumboot or a sneaker, you might accidentally be causing yourself pain. Gardening is a physical activity, and whether your feet are adequately supported can affect your entire body, including your back. So, if you’ve tried everything and your back still hurts, try putting on your running shoes.
Try To Hoe From Solid Ground
The final and simplest thing you can do to try and keep yourself from becoming sore while hoeing is to hoe with your feet on firm, solid ground. When we hoe on moist, soft soil, we wobble; even if we don’t notice it, our muscles micro-adjust to keep us upright. If this happens enough, it can result in muscle pain.
Is Hoeing Possible for the Disabled and Elderly?
You may be wondering, is hoeing possible for disabled and elderly people? Should you get your aging mother or father a hoe, or should you spring for something else?
Many disabled and elderly people are capable of hoeing, though it may leave them extra sore. However, if they are severely physically disabled, you may have to find an alternative to help them prevent potential injuries or help them reach better.
However, if you’re trying to assess whether a person can use a hoe, it’s likely better just to ask them. Disabled and elderly people often know their own capabilities and limitations better than anyone else, so just take it up with them.
What To Do Instead if You Can’t Operate a Hoe
What can you do if you or someone you live with isn’t capable of operating a hoe? Can they still garden, or is the hobby out of their reach now?
If you can’t use a regular hoe, you can try a dutch hoe or use a hand fork instead. As I said before, a dutch hoe uses a push-pull motion with a blade and is easier to use, especially when someone has a bad back, whereas a hand fork may be useful if you’re more easily able to maneuver on your knees than when bending down while on your feet.
However, whether or not a dutch hoe or hand fork will suit your needs is still up to you.
You should hoe every 1-2 weeks and after it rains. Doing so kills weeds, breaks up the soil, and clears debris. If you have trouble using a hoe, try a dutch hoe and wear back support and proper shoes. Hoeing is even possible for some disabled or elderly people, especially if they take the right precautions.