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A push hoe is a garden tool used primarily to remove small weeds. In many ways, it resembles a simple garden hoe in shape, except that its head is mounted flat on the handle, rather than being curved downwards. The push hoe, as its name implies, is meant to be pushed across the surface of the soil. Its head is optimized to sever the roots of small weeds, which can then be pulled back across the ground and into a neat pile. A push hoe can also be called a scuttle hoe or a Dutch hoe.
There are many different types of hoes, all with slightly different garden uses. The most traditional hoe, the garden hoe, has a curved head that is meant to be thrust downwards, then pulled to uproot or dig around larger plants. A hand hoe does the same, just with a shorter handle, often requiring the user to work on his or her knees. The push hoe, in contrast, has a very different, flat-shaped head.
Push hoes typically come mounted on tall handles and are designed to be used while standing. Rather that whack at roots and soil, the push hoe is meant to slide across the ground on a level plane. Its head accordingly lies flush with the ground.
There are two main types of push hoes: those with a mostly open head and those with a solid, sharp-edged head. The open-headed hoe head is essentially four metal bars that together form a rectangle. When this rectangle is swept over a swath of dirt, it catches small weeds, then pulls them out of the soil, roots and all.
Solid-headed hoes typically have a triangular head of solid metal, usually with very sharp edges. These hoes accomplish the same weed-eradication purpose, but instead of catching and uprooting the weeds, they slice them at their base. The motion is usually enough to uproot small weeds. Choosing a push hoe is usually a matter of cost, availability, and ease of use. Both varieties work equally well, and yield similar results.
Push hoes are beloved by many gardeners for their ability to quickly clear large swaths of garden space and to fit efficiently between larger plants. They are easy to maneuver between plants, and there is usually little risk of accidentally uprooting something valuable. Even solid-headed hoes are usually not capable of taking out large plants without an enormous amount of force.
A push hoe is highly effective on small, days-old weeds. These are the sorts of weeds that gardeners can spend hours pulling out by hand on their knees. A few sweeps of the hoe will likely take the majority of them out.
The purpose of the push hoe is not complete weed eradication, however. These garden tools are unlikely to be effective on larger weeds with stronger root systems. More traditional hoes or other gardening equipment designed to uproot larger plants will do a better job of total weed clearing than will a push hoe.