I know you don’t want to hear it because it often sucks to execute, but getting rid of weeds is crucial for keeping a healthy garden — all of our experts told us that. If left unchecked, the weeds in your garden can absolutely destroy the patch of land that you spent so much time tending to. And honestly, that maintenance sucks half as much if you have the right tools, like a garden knife or a spading fork. As you get more comfortable taking care of your garden, or your weeds become more difficult to remove, you might want to try a long-handled garden hoe for weeds with shallow roots or a spading fork for older weeds with deep roots.
We consulted gardening experts, including Rebecca Sears (chief marketing officer at home gardening company Green Garden Products), Jeremy Starke (gardening expert and founder of vegetable gardening website Green Thumb Gardener) and George Bernadon (VP of grounds management at SSC Services for Education, which provides support services for educational institutions) to learn about weed maintenance and the most popular weeding tools for every type of garden and gardener.
Best weeding tools for every gardener
Experts recommended weeding tool types that make everyday gardening easier. Some of the tools that we’ve highlighted below are better for weeds that are stubborn (the garden knife or the Cape Cod weeder), while others are great at handling weeds with shallow roots (the long-handled garden hoe or the spading fork). Below, we recommend highly rated weeding tools that are highly-rated and meet our experts’ guidance. All of them should help to clean up your backyard.
Best handheld garden cultivator: Edward Tools
Sears said that a handheld garden cultivator is an important tool for those who garden everyday. “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. This Edward Tools Aluminum Hand Cultivator has hooked aluminum tines to do just that — as well as an ergonomic handle with a rubber palm rest and a contoured finger grip, the brand says. It’s earned a 4.7-star average rating from nearly 400 customer reviews on Amazon.
Best garden knife: Nisaku
Several of the experts we spoke to said gardening knives are great for removing every part of the weed — including the stubborn roots. Starke is particularly a fan of the Japanese multipurpose tool called a Hori Hori knife. Compared to a typical gardening knife, it is larger and has measurements on the blade that help indicate 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. The Nisaku Hori Hori Weeding & Digging Knife has a Japanese stainless steel concave blade and, according to the brand, it’s both rust-proof and scratch-resistant. It comes with a 4.9-star average rating from more than 5,600 customer reviews on Amazon.
Best long-handled garden hoe: Berry&Bird
Our experts told us a long-handled garden hoe — or a Dutch hoe — is better for weeds with shallow roots. Because it has a long handle, you won’t have to bend over when you pull out of the weeds, and its broad blade can handle lots of different roots and stems. The Berry&Bird Dutch Hoe has a stainless steel head (to reduce rust) and a slim wood handle (for ease of use), according to Berry&Bird. The hoe comes with a 4.5-star average rating from 150 Amazon reviews.
Best Cape Cod weeder: Carrot Design
A Cape Cod weeder is great for pulling weeds in tight spaces, our experts said, and this one from Carrot Design is made of beech hardwood with a steel blade and neck. The brand says you use the pointed end of the weeder to drag at ground level and cut the weeds at the roots — or dig out the root with its sharp tip. It has a 4.7-star average rating from nearly 300 customer reviews on Amazon. Cape Cod weeders are configured based on your dominant hand, so make sure you order accordingly.
Best dandelion weeder: Garden Guru
If your main problem is dandelions, you might want to consider a dandelion weeder, otherwise known as a fishtail weeder. The dandelion weeder from Garden Guru is made from stainless steel and has a two-pronged fork design that’s meant to grab weeds by their roots. It has a soft gripped handle with a contoured finger design, too. It comes with a 4.7-star average rating from around 250 customer reviews on Amazon.
Best paving weeder: GREBSTK
A paving weeder, like this one from GREBSTK, is designed to weed in corners and in between concrete, which can be an especially annoying task according to our experts. GREBSTK’s weeding tool features a 13-inch angled blade that can also remove moss growing on top of pavers and stones. It has a 4.5-star average rating from more than 3,100 customer reviews on Amazon.
Best spading fork: True Temper
Bernadon said that he uses a spading fork “for more difficult or mature weeds with deeper roots,” and the True Temper 4-Tine Spading Digging Fork has four diamond-pointed steel tines for easy digging, according to the brand. It also has a hardwood handle and a 4.6-star average rating from more than 1,300 reviews on Amazon. “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.
What to consider when buying a weeding tool
Weeding tools differ in shape and size as well as form and function (some weeding tools only make sense if you’re gardening above or around pavers, for example). When looking at a new tool for weeding, consider you’ll want to pay close attention to its length, intended use and the weeds you’ll be using it on.
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,” said Sears. 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 handheld garden cultivator is better for everyday weeds, a spading fork can handle a weed with deeper roots.
Is weeding important?
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.”
Experts also told us that weeds can also bring dangerous plant diseases into your garden and attract more pests to the area. Eliminate weeds when you spot them to avoid this.