Best Weeding Tool: What Works On Your Weeds

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Let’s face it, we all have weeds in our gardens. Ivies or dandelions, crabgrass or pokeweed – they’re going to happen. Finding the best weeding tool for the task can be confusing, too. Since some weeds can be chopped and dropped, and others need the roots removed, it becomes a real mess to figure out.

But you’re in luck – I have some suggestions to sort out your weed woes. It often will depend on the type of weeds you’re aiming to remove, but knowing the right tool will make it easy!

Top Tools To Try:

Knowing Your Weeds

Best weeding tool
If you’re searching for the best weeding tool, there’s lots of options. Source: eXtension.org

The type of weeds you have will depend on the region you’re in. The best way to handle most weeds is to determine their root type and act based on that. Many types of weeds will regrow unless their root system is completely removed.

Weeds with long taproots are usually some of the most difficult to remove. Pulling on these can break the taproot in half, leaving part of it in the soil. This is when tools can be a real benefit. Tools allow you to grasp the upper part of the root, giving you more control of how it’s pulled. They can also be used to loosen the soil and remove it entirely.

When removing a long-rooted weed, it’s best to do it when the soil is wet. This loosens up the soil structure and gives you a better chance of removing the whole root.

Fibrous-rooted species like grasses can be much easier. Wait until the soil is somewhat dry but not completely dry, and then use a tool to loosen the soil at the weed’s base. You can then grasp the weed at the soil level and pull it out as a clump. Shake off the excess dirt and dispose of it.

Weeds with underground runners or rhizomes are easiest to remove with your hands. Do this when the soil is damp for the most success. These can be grabbed at or just below the surface of the soil and pulled. Often, a lot of the runner will come up with the green tips.

Types Of Tools For The Task

A variety of tools
A variety of tools… and an inexplicable super-chicken for fun! Source: LAJ2006

After establishing what type of weeds you’re fighting with, it’s time to choose your weapon. Let’s talk about the types of weed tools you can get!

These tools break down into a few specific types based on what they do: digging, cutting, or raking. All are effective, but for different uses. It’s good to have at least one of each type.

Digging Tools:

With these, you’ll be getting down into the soil to remove the deeper taproot. Many of these are meant to loosen up the soil and make the weed easier to pull out. The traditional forked-tongue shaped long weeder tool is one of these. So are the snake head or carrot-top weeders with the spearpoint-like tip. Upright grabber-types which get just under the soil surface are part of this category as well.

There’s hybrid tools which fall into this category, too. A soil scoop-sifter type is one common type. Others may include serrated edges on the side of a hand trowel. Those are made to cut through turfgrass roots and allow access to deeper taproots.

Some of the digging tools are also meant for prying. However, be careful to loosen the soil up before you try to pry out a stubborn root. You can damage your tool if it’s made of lighter materials like plastic or aluminum.

Cutting Tools:

The goal of a cutting tool is specifically to cut, as the name would imply. These work well on fibrous-rooted weeds or those with runners. They may not always be as useful on long-taproot types.

Hand tools of this type include hori-hori knives, asparagus knives, and weeding sickles. The sickles are meant to just cut down the foliage. Asparagus knives are sharpened forked-tongue weeders which cut below the soil surface. A hori-hori knife is used to cut through large segments of weed-infested turf and remove them.

Upright models include serrated weeding shovels, although these cross the line from digging to cutting. Sharpened stirrup hoes also are considered cutting tools.

Raking Tools:

These are tools which rake at the soil’s surface to loosen it. In this category we have the common forked cultivator, although it’s pretty ineffective at removing most weeds. There’s also hoe and cultivator hybrids (sometimes called forked mattocks) which are a combination of digging and raking tool. These are usually much sturdier than normal cultivators. Unsharpened stirrup or circular hoes with short handles also are considered raking tools.

These don’t work well against the long-rooted weeds. Instead, they’re best at getting out fibrous-rooted or shallow runner types. They claw or break up the soil surface to more readily allow weed removal.

Best Weeding Tool Choices

There’s lots of choices, but they really depend on what type of weeds you’re extracting. I’ve provided a list of my personal favorites, along with what they’re best at achieving.

While you don’t need to have all these tools at once, it’s good to have a couple hand tools for digging and cutting tasks. They’re easy to store, don’t take much room, and work in every type of garden container or bed.

In larger gardens, I also recommend at least one long-handled weed puller as well as a stirrup hoe. That’ll spare you some backaches later! This is doubly true if you’ll be planting long beds of vegetables and don’t want to bend, stoop, crouch or kneel to weed.

Dandelion Removal Tool

Edward Tools Weeding Tool

Edward Tools Weeding Tool - Leverage Metal Base Creates Perfect Angle for Easy Weed Removal and...
  • Leverage metal base makes this the most productive lawn...
  • Deep V nose design - while other weed pullers have short...
  • Lifetime warranty - Rust proof stainless steel with solid...
  • Extra large ergonomic cushioned handle for less fatigue
  • Best solution for organic lawn and garden care - No need for...

Searching for the best dandelion removal tool? Sometimes traditional is the best choice. This straight, forked-tongue offering from Edward Tools is fantastic. They’ve added a curved surface to the side of the shaft which allows you to pry stubborn roots out.

The forked tongue will hook around the root mass and prevent it from slipping away. It also doubles as a digging fork, allowing you to loosen up the soil before you pry the weeds out.

There are no miracles to be had with this tool. It still may require a little bit of arm strength for stubborn roots in dry soil. But it’s much sturdier than a normal straight version, and the curve provides leverage. If you can only pick one dandelion puller, this would be my recommendation.

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Hand Tool For Clay Soils

Radius Garden 102 Ergonomic Hand Weeder

Sale
Radius Garden 102 Ergonomic Aluminum Hand Weeder, Original Green
  • Award-winning ergonomic garden weeder with unique, patented...
  • Serrated, reinforced aluminum blade slides through compacted...
  • Ergonomic Natural Radius Grip provides extra leverage and...
  • Over molded handle with a comfortable non-latex,...
  • Ideal for gardeners with limited hand strength, arthritis,...

If you’re dealing with clay type soils, the serrated edges of the Radius Garden cut through them. But don’t turn away from it if you don’t have clay – those with looser soil will love it, too.

Because of the unique curvature of the handle, it’s easy to use. Press it straight into the soil next to the weed’s root, and then use the curved handle to help loosen the soil. The weed will pop out, root and all.

This is also great in tight spaces between other plants in a garden bed. If something is invading your flower beds, you can use this to loosen up the soil and remove just the invader. There’s little chance of destroying your other plants if used right!

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Weed Pulling Warrior

CobraHead Original Weeder & Cultivator

CobraHead Original Weeder & Cultivator Garden Hand Tool - Forged Steel Blade - Recycled Plastic...
  • BUILT BY GARDENERS - CobraHead tools are developed from...
  • EASY TO USE - Our classic garden weeding tools are great for...
  • TEMPERED STEEL BLADE - Gardeners love this tool because the...
  • COMFORTABLE UNIVERSAL GRIP - Our recycled plastic handles...
  • MADE IN THE USA - All of our dependable garden tools are...

This weed puller tool is pretty uncommon at your local big-box store. It really shouldn’t be. The CobraHead design enables you to push the shovel-shaped head down next to the weed, then just give it a push or a tug. The weed’s roots will pop right up.

This is great for many types of deep-rooted weeds, but it won’t work as well on shallower root systems. I find this to be wonderful on many of the more annoying wild lettuces in my yard, and it’s a great dandelion tool.

The shovel-like tip can be used as a single-tine cultivator. Scrape out newly-sprouted weeds, or use it to work fertilizer into the soil surface. It also comes in handy when planting a row of seeds!

If you find you’ve got a really stubborn root, use the head to loosen up the soil around the weed. Then hook the curve underneath the root and give it a good upward tug. The root should pop right out.

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Soil-Slicing Weeder

Nejiri Sama ARS Weeding Sickle KNK-MT211

Weeding sickle
The ARS weeding sickle.

In the realm of cutting tools, we’ve got an interesting traditional model. Some people swear by a nejiri sama, or Japanese weeding sickle. These super-sharp tools can be used both for digging and cutting.

Much like the CobraHead model we talked about above, the tip can be used to pop weeds out or to loosen up the soil. In addition, the sharp edge can be used to slice out segments of weed-ridden sod. They’re extremely effective at weed removal!

It takes a little practice to get used to this old-fashioned tool and how it’s used. But once you’ve familiarized yourself with it, it’s a wonderful addition to the tool box.

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Hard Soil Helper

Edward Tools Hand Tiller

Edward Tools Hoe and Cultivator Hand Tiller - Carbon Steel Blade - Heavy Duty for loosening Soil,...
  • Carbon steel blade and head for heavy duty use
  • Ergonomic rubber handle is more comfortable and grippy
  • Solid oak for extra strength and durability
  • Perfect hand tiller for flower and vegetable gardens
  • Lifetime warranty

Sometimes the roots of a weed can really be difficult to extricate. This is especially true of hard-packed dry soils or rocky soil where a standard weeder just won’t do.

Enter the Edward Tools hand tiller. On one side, you have a cultivator fork with extra-long tines. It’s perfect for working into a thatch of weeds and prying them from the ground. On the other, you’ve got a narrow hoe blade, which can cut or loosen the solid, hard soil.

While it’s not a conventional weed remover, I’ve found this to be absolutely essential. I’ve used it to pry up all manner of annoying weeds. It’s also a godsend when it comes to dealing with sun-baked, hard-as-concrete patches of soil.

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Weedy Crack Conqueror

Zenport K111 Crack Weeder

Zenport crack weeder
The Zenport crack weeder.

What of those irritating weedy bits that grow in the crevices of your driveway? The crack-dwelling dandelions in the sidewalk or along your curb?

There’s an option for that. This L-shaped carbon steel blade from Zenport gets into those tight areas. Depending on how it’s used, you can pop weeds out of the gap, or you can cut them cleanly off.

This isn’t meant for use in your garden beds, of course. But it really is useful if you find yourself cursing the infernal weeds along your walkways. Definitely worth the investment.

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Upright Grabbing Power

Fiskars 39″ 4-Claw Weeder

Fiskars claw weeder
The Fiskars 4-Claw Weeder.

If you’re like me and you’re getting older, crawling around on your hands and knees to weed can be a challenge. But there’s options to help with that, too.

Fiskars has developed this handy 4-claw weeder. Position it overtop of the weed. Using the stomp pedal, you’ll cause the tool to grab the weed at its root, and then you can pull it up easily. A quick sliding motion causes the ejector to spit out the now-removed plant and its roots.

There are many other variations of this out there, but I like the Fiskars model for its four claws. That provides plenty of grip for the weed extraction. It’s also easy to use even for kids, and the price is good.

This will leave a divot in the ground where the weed used to be. If it’s in a garden bed, just shift some soil over. Weeding the lawn? Take a handful of compost or good soil and fill it in.

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Low-Effort With Big Payoff

Garden Weasel Garden Claw Pro

Garden claw pro
The Garden Weasel Garden Claw Pro.

Have you ever wished you had something that loosened the soil enough to let you just rake the weeds off?

If so, you’re going to want a Garden Claw Pro. The tines are adjustable, allowing you to work in both tight spaces and large ones. You can use it to cultivate or till the soil, to aerate, or just to loosen up the weeds.

I use an older iteration of this, one which isn’t adjustable. But if this had been available when I got mine, I would have jumped at the chance. I’ve used one since and they’re positively lovely, especially with tougher rocky soils.

This will not pluck the weeds from the soil for you, but it will make it easy enough for you to just pick them off the surface. And sometimes that’s all you need. This makes it quick and easy to prep for spring planting.

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Fibrous-Rooted Weed Remover

Flexrake 1000L Hula-Ho Stirrup Weeder

Flexrake 1000L Hula-Ho Weeder Cultivator with 54-Inch Wood Handle
  • 54 inch Hardwood Handle
  • Quite simply, the heat treated, self-sharpen "g Hula-Ho...
  • Heat treated blade. Replaceable blade available
  • Original design. Self sharpening

A stirrup hoe was one of the first gardening tools I ever bought. These unassuming devices easily slide through the upper layer of soil. They don’t disturb it deep beneath the surface.

For weeding, these are a godsend. I recently used one to clear all the scattered young weed growth on one of my raised beds in a matter of minutes. It cuts right through the fragile but matted grassy weeds. While it doesn’t remove deeper-rooted ones, it loosens the soil to enable them to be pulled.

There are short-handled versions suitable for working in a tall raised planter. Longer versions like this one shown here are excellent for 6-12″ deep raised beds or direct soil. Both are useful to keep on hand. For anyone with large spaces to weed, this is one of the best weeding tool choices you can make.

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Hopefully you’ve found the right tools to fill your weed-destruction needs here. I know it’s one of those chores that seems to never end! But with the best weeding tool for the task, you may find that wiping out your weeds is easier than you expected.


The Green Thumbs Behind This Article:

Lorin Nielsen
Lifetime Gardener

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Last update on 2019-11-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API