If you love gardening—or if you don’t love gardening and want to spend minimal time and effort controlling weeds—you need a good weeding tool or two that can effectively remove them.
Garden expert Erin Hynes, a former horticulture extension agent and author of numerous garden books, recommends that you invest in a few different types of hand garden tools for different tasks. "That lets you choose the best tool for the weed problem. Have a lot of weed seedlings popping in an unplanted bed? A Dutch hoe lets you clear a large, open area. But if you want to pop dandelions out of the lawn, you want a tool that cuts through the sod, like a dandelion weeder or a hori garden knife. If you’re weeding close to the tender stems of flowers and vegetables, grab a tool designed for precise work, like a Cape Cod weeder."
While researching the best weeding tools, we evaluated products based on size, material, effectiveness, versatility, ease of use, quality of construction, and value. Our favorite tool is the Kinsman Korean Hand Plow because it is well-made and can tackle a large variety of tough weeds.
Here are the best weeding tools.
Best Overall: Kinsman Korean Hand Plow
Removes many different types of weeds
Long-handled versions available
Design makes it easy to hack out tough weeds
Metal shank tends to come loose over time
This handy and versatile garden tool is sold under several different names: Asian plow, Korean plow, EZ digger, Ho-Mi gardener, and more. All have the same elegant design of a solid piece of forged metal attached to a wooden handle, but Kinsman's has a reputation for quality tools that last. The tip of an Asian plow will nimbly get into cracks and crevices, like those between bricks and stones. Flick it slightly to the side, and it will wipe out broad swaths of tiny weeds in just a pass or two. Hack with it to get out deeper, tough roots. You can even carve out trenches or use it for planting bulbs and other plants in hard, dry autumn soil.
The short-handled type is the most widely available, but long-handled versions are sold, too, and are perfect for gardeners who don’t want to bend down. Note that over time, the metal shank may become loose in its wooden handle. If this happens, simply tap the tool upright on a hard surface. Then tap it sharply on the top with a mallet to force it, like a nail, back into the wood of the handle.
Price at time of publish: $25
Best Splurge: DeWit Cape Cod Weeder, Right-Handed with Short Handle
Narrow sharp blade is versatile for tight spots and small swaths
Strong enough to pry out small rocks
Small hole at the end makes it hard to hang
Design limits it to right- or left-handers
The Cape Cod weeder has a large following, with some gardeners swearing it's the only weeder they ever use. Its small blade is precise enough for gouging out grass between sidewalk cracks or weeds from between bricks and flagstones. But the blade is also strong enough that it can hack out larger weeds, pulling them up securely. It's excellent for getting those weeds that are growing right next to the flowers or vegetables you want to keep. It can also be used as a small-scale edger, running it along the edges of your beds and borders to keep grasses and other weeds out.
The slender, angled blade allows you to penetrate the soil to get at even deep roots, making it an excellent tool for removing dandelions and small tree seedlings. The blade design also allows you to get under mulch with minimal disturbance. The Cape Cod weeder also is useful for digging shallow furrows for seeds or planting small annuals and other seedlings. You can also use it to aerate the soil, preventing compaction and improving water absorption. It can be tough to find left-handed and long-handled versions but DeWit, a Dutch company known for generations for making quality tools, offers both.
Price at time of publish: $45
Best Knife: Corona Hori Hori Knife 8-inch
Bright handle is easy to spot
Plastic handle can stand up to wet conditions
Handle shaped and padded for comfortable grip
Measurements on the blade make for precise planting
Useful blade notch convenient for cutting twine
Like a good pocket knife, a hori knife is a garden essential that will make you wonder how you ever gardened without it. It's the one tool that reliably can dig and gouge out the deep, slender roots of small trash trees with minimal disruption of surrounding soil and plants. The stainless steel blade won't rust and stays sharper longer than more cheaply made versions. The serrated side is ideal for sawing through thick stems and small roots.
You'll want to keep it at your side as you move through your yard, using it for everything from weeding to planting to cutting twine to opening up a plastic bag of mulch. In fact, many models come with a holster. This model's gel handle is exceptionally useful, since a hori knife is often used to stab a hole into hard soil, so any cushioning eases impact on hands and joints.
Price at time of publish: $28
Best for Larger Areas: DeWit Dutch Hand Hoe
Sharp, thin blade skims under even the driest soils
Pointed ends get in close to existing plants
Pricey for a hand tool
Need a model that is specifically right- or left-handed
Needs occasional sharpening
When you have large expanses of small weeds to tackle, this is your tool, wiping them out with just a pass or two. It's also excellent for quickly cutting through the top inch or so of soil, toppling small weeds. Plus, it's efficient for loosening and aerating the soil.
Use the points to get in close to existing plants without harming them, and to get into tight spots. This tool is expensive, but it comes with a lifetime guarantee from a fifth-generation family-owned Dutch business and is made from forged high-carbon steel with a welded socket and integrated tang. This tool should be hand-sharpened every year or two, but with proper care, it should last several decades. A left handed version is also available.
Price at time of publish: $63
Best Dandelion Weeder: Fiskars 373600-1001 Weeder W-Ergo Handle
Specifically designed or the deep single taproots of dandelions and thistle
Sharp V-notch gets crucial top portion of dandelion root
Design allows for prying action
Rubbery handle to cushion hands
Limited usefulness for other types of weeds
To effectively remove dandelions and thistle, you must get at least the top two inches of the deep, slender taproot. That can be difficult to do without the right tool. This notch-type dandelion weeder is designed to go deeply and efficiently into the soil, even when it’s hard and dry, to get at least the top portions. In ideal conditions such as loose or moist soil, a slight bend of the shaft allows you to pop out the entire weed. In other conditions where the root won't give at all, the sharp and forked end allows you to slice through the taproot, removing most of it.
This tool also can be used for other tough weeds that have a single deep taproot that needs to be pulled without disturbing the surrounding plantings, such as small weed trees.
Price at time of publish: $9
Best Stand Up Weeder: Fiskars 4-Claw Deluxe Stand-Up Weeder
Serrated claws dig efficiently into the soil
No bending or kneeling
Hands and knees stay clean
Works only on medium-sized weeds, one at a time
If you want to be able to tackle weeds without bending or kneeling (or if you simply don’t want to be as close to the dirt!), here's the perfect tool for you—a long-handled foot action weeder that eliminates kneeling and stooping. And since you never have to touch the weed, it’s also nice for weeds that shouldn’t touch your skin (such as poison ivy, poison sumac, rue, nettle) as long as they are not too large for the claws to grip the base effectively.
Just position the claws around the weed, step on the lever, and the weed yanks right out of the ground. Then eject the weed from the weeder. This weeder only gets one weed at a time, but that also means it is precise and doesn’t disrupt surrounding grass or plantings.
Price at time of publish: $48
Best Budget: Yardworks 16" Steel Handle Hand Garden Tiller
Small but sturdy
Bright handle makes it easy to find
Cushioned handle makes for easier use
Painted steel that, if chipped, tends to rust over time
Sometimes you need to bring in the big guns and this versatile, budget-friendly hand tool fits the bill. Use the blade end to hack in soil that is rock hard or to hack out roots that refuse to give, such as invasive ditch daylilies or purple loosestrife. This tool is useful to have on hand when removing small trash trees or large shrubs, when you need to chop through the roots to remove the plant.
The fork end is convenient for raking through soil loosened by the mattock to find and lift chunks of remaining roots. All that hacking can be tough on hands, causing sore wrists, elbows, and shoulders the next day. The cushioned handle can help minimize that strain. We also like the bright handle that can make it a bit easier to find.
Price at time of publish: $6
Best Grip: Corona Comfort Grip Handle Aluminum Weeder
Handle is naturally shaped and well-cushioned for easy grip
Anti-slip thumb and finger guards
Forked blade acts like a fulcrum, requiring less strength
Serrated side of blade cuts tougher stems and roots
Forked end prevents using it to dig
Weeding, especially for longer periods of time, takes a certain amount of upper body strength and a firm grip. The design of this weeder can assist on both counts. The large, soft handle is easy to hold onto tightly and is designed to prevent less-strong hands from slipping.
And while this tool is strong, it's lightweight (and rust-resistant) courtesy of a cast aluminum blade. The serrated side is handy for many things, including cutting open bags of mulch or soil amendments, and cutting vines and roots. The bright red handle makes it easy to locate.
Price at time of publish: $12
The Kinsman Korean Hand Plow is our top choice for a weeding tool because it is versatile and can effectively tackle weeds of all sizes and types. Although it has more limited uses, the Corona Hori Hori Knife is indispensable for getting those difficult, deep taprooted weeds tucked in among other plantings or in turf, that no other tool seems to be able to get.
What to Look for in a Weeding Tool
While there is a weeder for practically every type of weed, every gardener benefits from at least one general-purpose hand weeder that can perform a lot of tasks, such as the Korean Plow and the Cape Cod Weeder. But as in the kitchen, a specialty tool or two can speed you along, such as the Corona Hori Hori Knife, the Fiskars dandelion weeder, or a mattock-like tool such as the Yardworks Hand Garden Tiller. If you do a lot of weeding of a particular plant, such as dandelions, definitely choose a weeder that will make quick work of that choice.
Wood handles are traditional, especially ash, an extremely hard wood used in baseball bats, says garden expert Erin Hynes, a former horticulture extension agent and author of numerous garden books says. But even quality wood can crack and splinter if exposed to wet conditions for long periods of time. Hynes says that "some purists eschew plastic handles for breaking too soon, but I have a set of plastic-handed hand tools that I’ve used for years." Plastic tends to be more comfortable as well, with rubber-like or gel handles being exceptionally comfortable and slip-resistant.
Color is important, Hynes says. "After you set down the tool so you can go throw the laundry in the dryer, then feed the cat and have a drink of water, can you find the tool when you remember what you were doing in the first place and head back to the garden?”
Metal is the material of choice for the business end of a garden tool. Steel is commonly used, though it can vary radically in strength and durability. Most types of steel are susceptible to rust, with the exception of stainless steel. Cast aluminum is also a good choice for its rust-resistance.
Ease of Use
A weeding tool should feel comfortable in your hand, solid and well-made. It should also feel well-balanced and the right weight for you. If bending and kneeling are difficult, try out longer-handled versions if they are available, or a stand up weeder. If you are in a store, try out several types. When shopping online, it's harder to compare, but read reviews, watch videos, and ask questions. Check return policies, and consider purchasing two or more at a time, to try them out and return those you don't want.
Are fork-like gardening tools also weeding tools?
Contrary to popular belief, those are not weeders. They’re actually called "garden cultivators" and don't remove weeds, though you may be able to knock some out if you try hard enough. Instead, they are designed to loosen soil around plants so that they can better absorb moisture and nutrients.
What are the differences among all the different types of steel used in weeding tools?
Inexpensive garden tools are made with cheaper types of low-carbon steel. It tends to rust and is softer. Sometimes, this inexpensive steel is painted to protect it from rust.
Other higher quality (and therefore more expensive) steels used in hand garden tools are:
Boron steel: Steel with boron added, which makes it very hard and therefore resistant to nicks and dents.
Forged steel: Results from shaping steel under extremely high pressure. Forged steel is very strong and less porous, so mud and dirt stick to it less.
Stainless steel: Steel with chromium and nickel added. It is extremely resistant to rust and corrosion and very easy to clean.
Tempered steel: A process of treating steel with heat for increased strength.
How can I tell whether a weeding tool is a good value?
"Value is the balance of quality and cost, and that balance depends on how often you’ll use the tool and how long you want it to last," says Hynes. A well-made garden tool will last for decades. Some of the tools highlighted here have devoted followings, with users purchasing a back-up tool just in case one they have gets lost or breaks, so they won't have to go even a few days without one.
Hynes also offers these tips: "If I’m checking out tools in a brick-and-mortar store, I hold the tool to get a sense of the tool’s substance and balance. I also rely on online reviews, both for in-store and on-line purchases."
How do should you care for your weeding tools?
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, checking the packaging or the website. Hynes recommends cleaning the dirt off the tool after each use. "Often, I just scrape it off with a stick or a trowel or whatever is at hand. If it's covered in sticky mud, I hose it off and then dry it with an old rag before putting it away."
If you are storing a steel tool for the winter, it's a good idea to rub it with a lightweight oil to protect it from moisture and rust.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This list was researched and written by Veronica Lorson Fowler, a freelance writer for The Spruce. She specializes in home and outdoor products and is an avid gardener.
To put together this list of the best weeders, she considered factors such as function, handle, durability, and ease of use. She prioritized top picks with a good value that will help get weeding done faster and better. She also consulted Garden expert Erin Hynes, a former horticulture extension agent and author of numerous garden books.