A garden hoe is a piece of gardening equipment that is used to turn the soil. It consists of a pole or handle to which a sharp blade has been attached, and has been used for agricultural purposes from around the fifth century B.C. Gardeners and farmers use garden hoes to move or aerate the soil, create furrows, and prepare it for planting bulbs and seeds. It is also used to dig out weeds, make shallow trenches, and compact the earth in any location. Garden hoes may also be used for piling up the soil around the base of a plant, cutting up roots and weeds, and mixing soil with other soils and fertilizers.
Though it has a very simple appearance, in practice the garden hoe is a very efficient tool that helps gardeners perform tasks much faster, allowing them to work for longer periods of time. This tool helps the gardener to avoid bending, stooping, and squatting to extract weeds or work on the soil. Gardeners thus avoid putting stress on their joints and physical damage in the long term. Short-handled hoes, often blamed for crippling back problems, were banned for use by the California Supreme Court, deemed an unsafe tool. Most hoes come with long handles and are used by gripping the handle at the furthest point or somewhere in the middle and swinging it to and fro.
These tools come in various shapes and designs. A typical garden hoe has a rather heavy, broad blade and is called a dego hoe. The collinear hoe has a razor-sharp blade that slices through weeds easily when skimmed over the surface of the soil in a sweeping motion. The draw hoe is ideal for drawing out the soil, while the stirrup hoe can cut weeds below the soil's surface with its double-edge blade. Action hoes have a movable head that shifts to cut underground weeds, while warren hoes, with their V-shaped blades, are best suited to filling in seedling holes and digging.
Selecting the right type of garden hoe is important for a number of reasons. The handle length needs to be appropriate to a person's height, allowing the gardener to work the hoe without bending too much. Gardeners should choose a hoe that isn't too heavy or too light, and will best perform the tasks at hand.
Maintaining a hoe in good condition is essential to ensuring a longer shelf life. They should be stored in dry conditions. Some gardeners prefer to spray an oil over the blade to prevent it from rusting. Frequently sharpening the hoe with a whetstone also makes a gardener's job easier because they avoid working with a dull blade edge.