How To Use a Dutch Hoe for Weeds (Tips and Tricks)

Weeding is arguably the most troublesome but essential gardening chore. Luckily, gone were the days when gardeners had to sit down all morning (or afternoon) just to hand weed their massive gardens. With the right information, you can effectively use long-handled weeding tools like the Dutch hoe to take care of most of the weeds in your garden.

To use a Dutch hoe for weeds effectively, choose one made of durable materials, sharpen the blade before use, clean it after use, and avoid using it on extremely wet soil. It also helps to cut the weeds while they’re still short and avoid gathering them with the blade.

The rest of this post will cover the above tips in greater detail. Read on to learn more about how to properly use and care for your Dutch hoe.

1. Use a Dutch Hoe Made of Durable Materials

The Dutch hoe came about in the mid-18th century and quickly became one of the most popular and widely used weeding tools.

Its traditional design features a long handle and a double-edged blade at the tip protruding like a spatula that thrusts aggressively against weeds. The sharpened back portion of the blade allows the tool to slice through persistent weed shoots that survive the cut from the front edge.

Such design makes the Dutch hoe an excellent weeding tool that can clear large areas of weeds in a significantly shorter period than using hand weeding tools.

Older versions of Dutch hoes had wooden handles and steel blades. Some even had steel handles. You can currently find several designs ranging from ergonomic handles to customizable edges. Some modern Dutch hoes may have single-edge blades or serrated blades.

Regardless of the design, the function of the Dutch hoe requires durable materials. Otherwise, the blade will succumb to the resistance of the weeds and the soil.

If your area has coarse, sandy soil, you may want to use strong carbon or stainless steel that won’t easily nick or break with heavy use. Some cheaper tools have weaker steel that will last you a few seasons. Investing in a high-quality one that can last you a lifetime would be wise.

The handle should also be resistant to damage caused by high temperatures and humidity. The truth is, any lightweight but sturdy handle will do as long as you can protect your Dutch hoe from the elements.

2. Sharpen the Blade Before Use

A Dutch hoe doesn’t need to be as sharp as a kitchen knife but should be sharp enough to cut weeds. If it’s too sharp, it will cut weeds really fine. However, it will be less durable because extreme sharpening thins out the blade edge, making it easier for friction against the soil to wear it out. 

Ultimately, it all comes down to finding the perfect balance between having a super sharp hoe that cuts weeds almost effortlessly and a durable one.

For more on how to strike that balance, check out this article: Does a Dutch Hoe Need to Be Sharp? – I cover everything you need to know about sharpening a dutch hoe, including the degree of sharpness to aim for and how to maintain it.

3. Use the Dutch Hoe a Few Days After Watering the Ground

The next time you water the soil, you might notice several weed seedlings. Your instinct may be to deal with them right away, but you should wait for one to two days after watering before grabbing your Dutch hoe. If it rains, wait a few days, depending on how saturated the ground is.

The trick is to allow the soil to dry a bit to make it easier to remove the weeds.

You want to start hoeing the weeds when the soil is damp, not wet. Otherwise, you risk collecting mud on your tool and doubling the amount of work necessary to clear your yard of weeds. It will also be challenging to remove cakes of dirt on the blade after weeding.

Weeding when the soil surface is wet can also be somewhat counterproductive. While most weeds typically dry out when cut, some re-root and regrow as long as there’s readily available moisture on the soil surface. But if the soil is dry a few inches deep, these plants can’t regrow because they don’t have access to the moisture they need for that process.

4. Don’t Wait for the Weeds To Grow Over 3 Inches (7.5 cm)

There are several kinds of weeds, and each category is different in terms of when they grow and how long they live. Although you don’t have to identify all types of weeds that grow in your garden, it helps to have some knowledge of how and when the ones you encounter often grow.

Summer annual weeds typically grow in spring, while winter annual weeds come out in the fall. As you start watering the ground in the spring to prepare your plants for the growing season, you can expect some weeds to sprout with them.

The best time to use a Dutch hoe – or any weeding tool – is during the growing season. Weeds grow with your plants and may even outgrow them if the conditions are right. Removing them as they germinate will help keep them under control.

You must remove them as soon as you can, ideally before they grow up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) tall. Allowing them to grow too much before removing them will present several problems, including the following:

  • Annual weeds can self-seed to ensure they grow back in the following year. Alternatively, some birds or pollinators might drop the weed seeds into the ground. Don’t wait for this to happen. Remove the weeds before they go to seed.
  • Simple perennial weeds have a taproot system and spread by seeding. New perennial weed seedlings can be removed easily using a Dutch hoe. However, those that have already established deep roots may need to be uprooted using a hand-weeding tool. You can prevent new growths by removing them before they grow big enough to spread seeds.
  • Taller weeds may have harder stems. A Dutch hoe can cut through the soft stems of weed seedlings, but it might not be sharp enough to cut through harder weed stems easily.
  • Bigger weeds are harder to remove. It takes more time to finish weeding these out since you have to remove a large pile of cut weeds before you can continue to cut other weeds.

As troublesome as it may be, the best way to control weeds is to remove them as soon as you spot them. You may need to do it weekly during the growing season using your Dutch hoe unless you employ other weed-control techniques, such as applying herbicides.

5. Don’t Use the Blade To Gather the Cut Weeds

When killing weeds using a Dutch hoe, you might be tempted to gather the cut weeds using the hoe’s blade. That’s understandable, as the shape of a Dutch hoe’s blade allows it to work like a rake or shovel when reversed.

While that doesn’t seem to be much of a problem, it’s not the best thing you can do for your tool’s blade. Dragging the blade against the ground that way will dull the edges sooner. Unlike a scuffle hoe whose blade oscillates and can buffer the impact of the soil against it, a Dutch hoe’s blade is steady, making it catch the full weight of the weeds and the soil.

To be on the safe side, use a rake to collect the cut weeds and put them in a pile on one side. Using a rake also helps reduce the amount of soil displaced from the ground as you remove the weeds. This not only makes your work easier but also prevents you from gradually scrapping off the topsoil (the most nutrient-rich layer of your garden soil).

6. Clean the Dutch Hoe After Every Use

Don’t let the dirt accumulate on your Dutch hoe’s blade. If left unattended for too long, dirt can cause rust to form on the metal and become more challenging to remove later on. 

Spend a few minutes hosing your garden tools down after use to remove most of the soil. You can then wipe them dry with a piece of cloth before storage to prevent rust.

Alternatively, you can use a brush to remove stubborn dirt and soak the Dutch hoe in a disinfectant solution. Avoid soaking the hoe too long, and remember to rinse the tool with clean water after using corrosive solutions. 

Final Thoughts

That’s it for today’s discussion. Hopefully, you’ve learned something new about the most effective ways to use a Dutch hoe for weeding and keeping it in tip-top condition. If you found this post useful, be sure to share it with your friends and family. Cheers!

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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