If you’re relatively new to gardening tools, the scuffle hoe and hula hoe can be difficult to understand and distinguish because it’s not uncommon for a gardening tool to go by different names. So, are the terms hula hoe and scuffle hoe synonyms, or are they names for different tools?
A hula hoe is essentially the same thing as a scuffle hoe. These tools are also sometimes referred to as a loop hoe or stirrup hoe. Regardless of the name, they have the same design and function: removing weeds from the roots.
This article will discuss the origins of the names hula hoe and scuffle hoe and their basic features and functions. I will also share some tips for choosing the best materials for the tool and proper maintenance procedures. Read on!
The Origins of the Names Scuffle Hoe and Hula Hoe
A scuffle hoe is shaped like a stirrup with a trapezoidal tip and double-edge blades that can scuffle in the ground in forward and backward motions.
Some gardeners may refer to a garden hoe with a flat, triangular blade as a scuffle hoe simply because some manufacturing companies release similar products and call them by that name. One such example is Rogue Hoe.
It makes sense because such a tool has the same function as the stirrup hoe, the only difference being the shape. The scuffling motion used to remove weeds and the angle of the blade in relation to the handle are essentially the same.
However, the scuffle hoe is more widely known as the stirrup-shaped hoe. Some people may even find it more convenient to simply call it the stirrup hoe since it’s easy to imagine what it is based on the name.
Meanwhile, the name hula hoe came about because of the wiggling back-and-forth motion of the tool, which resembles a hula dance or the kids’ toy hula hoop. But if you search for a hula hoe online, you will end up finding a scuffle hoe.
It is best not to confuse the scuffle or hula hoe with the Dutch hoe. Although most Dutch hoes have a stirrup-shaped tip, some can be triangular with a hole in the middle. The blade projects at an angle forward like a spatula. Some Dutch hoes may also have serrated blades, making them appear different from the scuffle or hula hoe.
Now that the confusion between hula hoes and scuffle hoes has been resolved, I will refer to the tool as a scuffle hoe in the rest of the article.
Out of the numerous garden tools available in the market, the scuffle hoe is probably one of the most popular among gardeners.
What sets it apart from other weeding tools are the following:
- Design: A scuffle hoe typically has a long handle made of lightweight materials, such as plastic, wood, or fiberglass. The blade usually consists of carbon steel or stainless steel. The shape of the blade allows the tool to dig into the soil and cut the roots below the surface.
- Durability: Although the durability of the scuffle hoe is usually directly proportional to the price, any average-priced tool can still last you several years (or decades!) with proper upkeep.
- Convenience: Modern and more expensive options usually have ergonomic handles that make it easier to reach weeds without having to bend over. Meanwhile, the double-edge blade allows you to cut weeds in two directions.
- Effectiveness: The most important factor making the scuffle hoe a popular game changer in gardening is its effectiveness in removing weeds. While other hoes with flat blades only cut weed shoots aboveground, a scuffle hoe uproots more weeds in a short period.
We already discussed how excellent a scuffle hoe is for weeding. If you want to learn more about how to efficiently remove weeds using a scuffle hoe, check out my article: How to Use a Scuffle Hoe for Weeds (Tips and Tricks)
In addition to weeding, you’ll be surprised to find how many other possible uses this fascinating tool has. Check them out below:
- Aerating the soil. Since the scuffle hoe allows you to dig up to 2 inches (5 cm) into the ground, it also aids in aerating the soil and relieves mild compaction. Just avoid digging too deep so as not to disturb the soil too much and cause a weed re-emergence.
- Raking weeds. The shape of a scuffle hoe’s blade also allows you to rake the weeds closer for easier collection, reducing the need to sit and pick up the cut weeds by hand. The hole in the middle also prevents the tool from collecting too much dirt.
Materials That Make Up a Scuffle Hoe
A scuffle hoe has two basic parts: the handle and the blade tip. Each part can be made of various materials, which can determine the tool’s overall durability and performance.
The Handle Has To Be Long and Light
The long handle of a scuffle hoe is designed to allow gardeners to reach weeds without needing to move too close to them or bend over too much. However, you’ll need to use two hands to control the tool and avoid cutting too close to your garden plants.
The other important quality of a scuffle hoe’s handle is its lightweight, which allows you to push and pull the tool without putting too much strain on your arm, shoulder, and back muscles.
Despite being light, the handle should be sturdy enough not to break at the weight of the weeds, the soil, or the occasional rocks and stones the hoe comes across.
To meet these requirements, most manufacturers use one of the following materials to make the handle:
- Plastic. This is probably the cheapest material available for a scuffle hoe’s handle. Its versatility allows manufacturers to craft ergonomic designs. However, it is also the least durable.
- Wood. This is arguably the most common material used for garden hoe handles. It is lightweight and sturdy. However, the material is susceptible to molds, decay, and splintering.
- Fiberglass. Fiberglass is definitely one of the best materials for garden hoe handles. It is lightweight, durable, and resistant to environmental factors. On the flip side, it can be the most expensive.
- Steel. You may find some scuffle hoes with steel handles. If you use one made of carbon steel, it’ll be heavier than the other materials and prone to rust if not well taken care of. On the other hand, a stainless steel pipe handle is lighter and rust-resistant.
The Blade Has Two Sharp Edges
Most of the scuffle hoe blades you can find in the market are either carbon steel or stainless steel. They’re both effective in uprooting the weeds in your yard, but they have pros and cons.
- Carbon steel: This material is cheaper but prone to rust. But with proper maintenance, it can work as well as stainless steel.
- Stainless steel: The biggest advantage of this material is its resistance to rust, a trait that minimizes upkeep. However, it can be more expensive compared to carbon steel.
A scuffle hoe is relatively easy to maintain. You only need to remember a few essential tips:
- Clean the scuffle hoe after every use. Regardless of the materials your scuffle hoe is made of, cleaning it after every use can ensure its longevity. Wash away the soil and weed sap using your garden hose, and wipe the blade and the handle dry.
- Store the scuffle hoe away from the sun and rain. Don’t leave your scuffle hoe out in the sun or rain because extreme heat and moisture can damage plastic, metal, or wooden parts.
- Inspect the blade before use. Your scuffle hoe doesn’t have to be knife-sharp. However, you must maintain its edge to be an effective weeding tool. You can learn how to sharpen your tool from my article: How to Sharpen a Scuffle Hoe: DIY Guide.
Some gardening supplies stores or gardeners may refer to the scuffle hoe by various names: hula hoe, stirrup hoe, oscillating hoe, or even loop hoe. They’re all basically the same thing.
What matters is that you understand the tool’s purpose. Since there are plenty of other gardening hoes to choose from, it helps to recognize what you’re getting, understand its features, and learn how to use it to its maximum potential.