The Wheel Hoe: A Modern Weed Slayer

Nineteenth century gardeners knew the merits of the innovative wheel hoe. You can still use one today to minimize your weeding chores.

  • Hoss wheel hoe
    This wheel hoe from Hoss Tools takes some of the work out of weeding.
  • Wheel hoe illustration
    A 19th century wheel hoe.

  • Hoss wheel hoe
  • Wheel hoe illustration

Just in time for the summer weed season, we’ve chosen the wheel hoe as another Tool for Wiser Living. If you have a large garden, this old-time tool can really reduce weeding chores. T. Greiner describes it in his book, How to Make the Garden Pay, published in 1890:

But the tool of all tools, the modern weed slayer, the great labor saver, the greatest horticultural blessing of the age — that is the modern wheel hoe. This above all others frees the gardener from undesirable work, cuts down the labor account one-half, and makes tillage light and pleasant. The advantages connected with the possession of one of these tools cannot be overstated, nor emphasized too strongly, nor told too frequently. This tool reduces the unpleasant task of weeding to a minimum. Now the half-grown boy runs the wheel hoe up and down the rows of vegetables ‘for fun’ and recreation, and accomplishes in one-half hour what a man with a hand hoe could not perform in a whole day.

Most of today’s wheel hoes feature stirrup-style scuffle hoe blades that slice shallowly through the soil, killing weeds without pulling more seeds to the surface.

The wheels support the hoe as you go. Wheel hoes are rare in stores, but we’ve located four brands online, with prices ranging from $170 to $349: Glaser Wheel HoesValley Oak Wheel Hoes, Hoss Double Wheel HoesMaxadyne Wheel Hoes.

If you’d like to build your own wheel hoe, check out Herrick Kimball’s Planet Whizbang Wheel Hoe plan.

Cheryl Long is the editor in chief of MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine, and a leading advocate for more sustainable lifestyles. She leads a team of editors which produces high quality content that has resulted in MOTHER EARTH NEWS being rated as one North America’s favorite magazines. Long lives on an 8-acre homestead near Topeka, Kan., powered in part by solar panels, where she manages a large organic garden and a small flock of heritage chickens. Prior to taking the helm at MOTHER EARTH NEWS, she was an editor at Organic Gardening magazine for 10 years. Connect with her on .

5/15/2015 10:03:27 AM

Since this article was released Valley Oak Tool Company has updated the design of their broadfork. The new design is practically indestructible when you get the steel handle model. We love ours.

Jim Treece_4
6/13/2010 5:11:38 PM

I read the wheel hoe article and decided to build one for my wife. I read the info at planetwhizbang, and ordered a wheel from Northern Tool, and started to round up the metal to build it, but the spec diagrams on the planetwhizbang web page are unreadable. I appreciate the designer publishing the specs for free, but they aren't much help when you can't read the dimensions. Is there anyone here who could help me with the sizes? Someone who owns the hoe in the article maybe?

6/7/2010 3:35:03 PM

HI, If you are really interested in getting one of these, go to this link. They have them for about $140.

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