A weed hoe, sometimes called a Dutch hoe, is a gardening tool that is designed to slice below the surface of the soil. It is similar to a standard garden hoe, but instead of a flat metal blade at the head, the weed hoe sports a metal strap or stirrup. When pushed or pulled, the sharp, flat strap of the hoe severs the roots of weeds below the soil's surface. The gardener can then easily pluck the weeds from the garden soil. Using a hoe is easier than hand weeding, because it does not require the incessant bending and plucking that can cause back injury or exhaustion.
The hoe is an ancient tool, mentioned in the Code of Hammurabi from the 17th century B.C. and by the Hebrew prophet Isaiah during the eighth century B.C. Ancient Egyptians used a wooden hand hoe contraption for hacking weeds and digging into the soil for planting seeds. The hoe was one of many garden tools developed to improve the efficiency and labor of cultivating the soil. From the standard, flat head hoe sprang a variety of garden hoes: the grubbing hoe, which has a thick flattened knob similar to a pick axe, suited for digging thick roots or stumps; the Dutch hoe or weed hoe; the Hula hoe, a hoe similar to the weed hoe but with a swiveling head; and the scuffle hoe, which bears a sharpened flat head situated perpendicular to its wooden handle.
With the development of mechanized farming implements such as the tractor and cultivator, widespread use of the weed hoe and other labor-intensive hand tools declined. For smaller plots and home gardens, however, the weed hoe is important equipment in a gardener's repertoire. This type of hoe is most effective in eliminating plants that have fibrous root systems. The sharp metal edge of the hoe easily slips below the hairlike roots. A simple thrust backward shaves the roots, and the plant is easily removed from the garden.
A weed hoe is less effective on weeds that have tenacious taproots. Weeds such as the burdock or dandelion often pierce deep into the soil. A weed hoe can easily sever the taproot, but the weed might grow back because some of the living weed still resides in the soil. Weed hoes generally are less common than the standard flat-head hoe, because the weed hoe is suited for only one purpose: removing weeds. This type of hoe is incapable of razing soil or digging narrow trenches — tasks for which the standard hoe is well suited.