The Ultimate Weeder: My Search for Perfection

A dandelion weed Weeds are no match for you when you've got the right tools. Image: Robbie1/Flickr

Unless you’re into back-breaking tedium, weeding isn’t your idea of summer fun. But like many home maintenance jobs, the right tool can make this garden chore less grueling.

I spend a lot of time tending my flower and vegetable gardens, so I like a precision, slicing weeder that nimbly cuts through soil while it loosens weeds, but leaves my seedlings alone.

Related: 7 Killer Ways to Get Rid of Weeds

My favorite weeder came from a Smith & Hawken store, back when Californians Dave Smith and Paul Hawken still sold elegantly forged garden tools. It was a 17-inch Stainless Steel Right Hand Weeder #898817, a swan-necked hand hoe that extended my wingspan by 3 feet and easily sliced through weeds and soil.

Armed with my new tool, so sharp it came with a leather sheath, I mercilessly decapitated dandelions and eviscerated chickweed. I can’t say it made weeding a delight, but it did become quite satisfying. And I grieved when the thing went missing a couple of years ago.

Today, Target owns the Smith & Hawken name, but doesn’t sell my trusty #898817.

My Search for Weeding Tools

I’ve searched online for the weeder of my affection — even on eBay — but never found it, although I did find gardeners who share my admiration for that well-balanced tool. One garden editor called it “the one I always return to.” Real Simple magazine named it one of the 13 tools every gardener should own.

Although I’ll never forget my first weeder — does anyone forget their first? — I’ve discovered a couple of sharp-slicing seconds:

  • DeWit Dutch Hand Hoe: A Dutch-made, 18-inch long, slender neck weeder with a self-sharpening blade and the ability to reach far into beds and between plants. ($43)
  • Japanese Weeding Sickle: A 13-inch weeder that’s easier to maneuver than the DeWit, but doesn’t reach as far.

Anne Schreck, owner of the online Garden Tool Company, understands weeder lust.

“A lot of people, like you, are devastated if they lose their favorite weeder,” says Schreck, who gives this tip to avoid losing your favorite tools in the garden: Paint your handles red. “We have customers who buy two or three at time. One lady bought six, and has managed to lose them all.”

Schreck’s favorite? Dewit’s 11-inch-long Cape Cod Weeder ($30).

What’s your favorite gardening tool? Or, better yet, do you know where to find the Smith & Hawken weeder? Do you have a weeding technique that makes the chore easier?