When it comes to gardening, weed maintenance is a crucial part of taking care of your plants and flowers. Left unmanaged, those pesky weeds can steal vital nutrients from the greenery you spent so much time planting, not to mention turn your pristine garden into an untidy disaster. If you’re unsure how to handle your weed problem, we spoke to some gardening experts to break down some of the most popular weeding tools for every type of garden and gardener, plus simplified the importance of weeding.
SKIP AHEAD Best weeding tools
What to consider when buying a weeding tool
Weeding tools differ in everything from shape and size to form and function. Before you can decide which weeding tool is right for you, there are many things you need to consider about your gardening habits.
- The length of the tool: Weeding tools are typically either short-handled or long-handled. Like the name suggests, short-handled tools are better for tougher tasks that require more strength. “With the short handle options you have even more control to remove only the weeds and not harm your thriving plants,” added Rebecca Sears, chief gardening guru at Ferry-Morse. Long-handled tools, meanwhile, allow you to weed while standing and can cover more area at once — this puts less pressure on your joints but also doesn’t give you as much power while you weed.
- The type of garden: Different weeding tools are designed for different types of gardens and their accompanying weeds. A Cape Cod weeder, for instance, is designed for tighter spaces, while a paving weeder is meant for getting rid of weeds growing in between or on top of concrete slabs or pavers.
- The age and size of the weeds: Likewise, different tools are designed to handle weeds in various stages of the growing process. While a winged weeder is better for younger weeds, a spading fork can handle a weed with deeper roots.
Best weeding tools for every gardener
Best handheld garden cultivator: CFCT
Sears said that a handheld garden cultivator is a great weeding tool for the everyday gardener. “It is great for breaking up compacted soil and reducing weed growth [and] the three prongs allow for tight weed removal around smaller plant stems,” she explained. Bryan McKenzie, landscape designer and co-founder of Bumper Crop Times, added that this is a good tool “when you need to pull out several weeds at once.”
Best garden knife: Nisaku
Several of the experts we spoke to said that gardening knives are great tools for removing every part of the weed — including the stubborn roots. Jeremy Starke, gardening expert and founder of Green Thumb Gardener, is particularly a fan of the multipurpose Japanese tool called the Hori Hori knife — compared to a typical gardening knife, it is larger and features measurements on the blade to help you figure out the depth of soil while planting. “Sometimes you have a weed that you can’t quite pull with your hand, so using the Hori Hori really helps to pry them out,” Starke said.
Best long-handled garden hoe: Berry&Bird
According to McKenzie, a long-handled garden hoe (or a Dutch hoe) is better for weeds with shallow roots. “A long handle lets you avoid bending over to pull out the weeds, while the broad sharp blade can deal with roots and stems of almost any diameter,” he said. “It lets you skim right below the ground and detach the plant from the root.”
Best Cape Cod weeder: DeWit
A Cape Cod weeder is “great for weeding in tight spaces,” Mckenzie noted. This one from DeWit is made of sturdy European ash hardwood with a steel head and the brand says it has some give to it so you can bend the tool without breaking it. Cape Cod weeders are configured based on your dominant hand, so make sure you order accordingly.
Best dandelion weeder: Ames
If your main problem is dandelions, you might want to consider a dandelion weeder, otherwise known as a fishtail weeder. “[This is] an exceptionally useful tool when it comes to dealing with deep roots,” McKenzie noted, as the V-notched blade is designed to detach weed roots growing deep in the dirt.
Best paving weeder: GREBSTK
“Weeding in corners, concrete seems and in between the pavers is extremely annoying as most tools just can’t get in. A paving weeder is a tool designed specifically for these cases,” McKenzie said. This paving weeder from GREBSTK, which features a 13-inch angled blade, can also remove moss growing on top of pavers and stones.
Best spading fork: Ames
George Bernadon, VP of grounds management at SSC Services for Education, said that he uses a spading fork “for more difficult or mature weeds with deeper roots.” “I can insert the fork into the ground around the weed from varying directions to loosen the soil around the roots,” he said, adding that the process “aerates the soil around desirable plants.” He also noted that a spading fork can be used by novices and experts alike.
Best winged weeding hoe: Luster Leaf
According to Erik Prosksch, senior project manager of grounds at SSC Services for Education, winged weeders are “designed to take out weeds while they are noticeably young” and therefore “should not be used on weeds larger than a coffee cup in height or diameter.” This tool is better for more experienced gardeners, as Prosksch noted that using it improperly can “wipe out existing plants that you wanted to keep.”
Why is weeding important?
If you’re new to gardening, you might be asking yourself: Why do I even need to weed? On top of the aesthetic appeal of a weed-free bed of flowers or vegetables, eliminating weeds from your garden actually helps plants grow.
“The soil in your garden is filled with nutrients that your plants compete for – the fewer weeds in your garden, the more food available for your plants, making them more productive and likely to succeed,” Sears explained. “This holds true for sunlight and water as well. Weeds will compete for the resources that your garden plants need to stay healthy.”
According to McKenzie, weeds can also bring dangerous diseases into your garden. “Similar to rodents and nuisance insects, weeds may transmit plant diseases and attract more pests to the area,” he said. “Every gardener should eliminate weeds as soon as they appear to prevent the larger problem.”
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