Does a Dutch Hoe Need to Be Sharp?

The Dutch hoe is one of many garden tools used to take out weeds quickly. Gardeners commonly use it to manage weeds over a large area without breaking their back from plucking them individually with their hands.

When it’s time for some weed removal, most of us would grab our garden hoes and get on with the task. Most of the time, these garden tools have weathered and rusted over time, but we get lazy and continue to use them anyway.

However, is it efficient to use the Dutch hoe when it’s blunt? Do we need to sharpen the blades of the dutch hoe before use?

The Dutch hoe needs to be kept sharp to remove weeds efficiently from the ground. The effectiveness of the Dutch hoe depends on how well the blades cut through the soil and the weeds. For this reason, the Dutch hoe must be sharpened regularly to force its way through hard ground and lift the unwanted weeds.

To understand the importance of keeping the Dutch hoe sharp, we will explore the various types of Dutch hoes in the marketplace and their mechanism. Once this is understood, we can appreciate why the blades need to be kept sharp, and we’ll show how you can do so.

What Are Dutch Hoes

The Dutch hoe uses a pushing mechanism that digs and cuts the weeds just below the soil surface. Unlike other garden hoes that depend on a digging action, the Dutch hoe uses a pushing motion to dig under the ground and slices through the dirt and plant roots. This method of weed removal is far more efficient than chopping hoes because it covers a larger surface area in a single force.  

Gardeners favor the Dutch hoe for ergonomic reasons. The long wooden piece of the hoe allows the user to stand up, hold a grip and push the blades against the garden bed. The depth and angle of the blade can be maneuvered and controlled by how the user holds the tool. It’s an ideal garden for someone who has less mobility.

More traditional and old-school Dutch hoes only have blades with sharp ends at the front end. However, most Dutch hoes on the market today have sharp ends on both sides of the blade. This allows the user to remove weeds in both push and pull actions of the tool, providing even greater efficiency in weed removal.

Dutch hoes are most effective when used as a preventative tool – to scrap weeds out before they become established and locked into soil. Regular hoeing of the soil ensures weeds are removed before they spread quickly. It is far more effective than other weed removal methods, such as spraying herbicide.

Types of Dutch Hoes

There are a few types of Dutch hoes with varying blade shapes and sizes. It’s worthwhile taking a quick tour over these to appreciate why Dutch hoes need to be kept sharp.

While there are a few dozen dutch hoe variations with different blade designs, they essentially fall under two different styles:

  • A standard blade with sharp ends at the front and back sides. Older style Dutch hoes only have blades at the front.
  • A teething blade at the front and hooks on the back.
Standard blade (left) vs Teething blade (right)

The standard blades come in various shapes: flat, rectangular, triangular, diamond, and everything else in between. Regardless of the shaping, the blades are all mounted on a handle and depend on a push-pull motion. Using the tool is like sweeping with a broom, severing young weeds at their base.

The more advanced Dutch hoe design is the Royal Dutch Hoe which has a teething or crown-like blade.

Sneeboer USA claims that the teething design increases the surface area of the cutting by 35%, thereby increasing the effectiveness of each push and ability to take on stubborn patches. The hooks on the reverse side pick up the weeds as they’re pulled out.

Here’s a short video of the Royal Dutch Hoe in action:

What Are the Dutch Hoe Blades Made From?

The blades of a Dutch how are usually made from either carbon or stainless steel.

The stainless steel ones will remain shiny, rust-free, and sharper for longer. However, they’re much harder to sharpen if you need to.

With carbon steel hoes, the blades will rust and blunt over time but can be kept sharp by regularly sharpening them.  

Why Does a Dutch Hoe Need to Sharp?

The question of why the Dutch hoe needs to be kept sharp is like asking why the kitchen knife needs to.

The obvious answer is that a sharp hoe will work much better than a blunt one. Having a sharp edge means that you don’t need to exert as much effort. As a gardener, you would want to complete any task as efficiently and pain-free as possible.

While you might get away with using a dull hoe, a sharp one will ensure that you get the job done swiftly and possibly enjoy the process too!

If you’ve read the article until this point, I hope I’ve convinced you why you should keep your Dutch hoe sharp. So, let’s now look at how to sharpen the Dutch hoe.

How Do I Sharpen the Dutch Hoe?

Sharpening the Dutch hoe is relatively quick and simple. The good news is that you don’t need to sharpen the blade extremely pointy or at the perfect angle. Most times, “good enough” is sufficient to do the job.

To sharpen the Dutch hoe:

1. Grab a File

Purchase a file if you don’t already have one. They’re relatively inexpensive and a great investment to sharpen other gardening tools you may have.

Finding a file that is in between coarse and fine grades is ideal. A coarse file will cut faster but leave a rougher finish, whereas a fine file will leave a smoother finish. You’d want a file in between these two ends.  

If using a file already in the garage, ensure that you clean the tool with alcohol to remove grease and dirt and give it a rinse before use.

2. Secure the Tool

We want to minimize unwanted movement as much as possible while filing.

If you have a bench vise or a sturdy bench with clamps, secure the Dutch hoe with an old rag to protect it against the clamps. This will allow you to file with both hands-free.

If you don’t have a bench vise, you’d have to stabilize the Dutch hoe by letting it stand up (with the tool head up) and apply pressure down while sharpening.  

3. Sharpen the Dutch Hoe

Begin filing at a bevel angle of around 35 degrees in a pushing stroke motion. In each stroke, you’re doing so in a diagonal direction. Avoid filing in a back and forth motion.

Continue filing until you can feel a burr on the backside of the cutting edge.

For more detailed instructions on sharpening the Dutch Hoe, watch this video prepared by The Tool Merchants. It provides an excellent beginner’s guide to sharpening your Dutch hoe:  

Final Words

The final verdict of whether the Dutch hoe needs to be sharp is – Yes, absolutely!

The design of the Dutch hoe depends on the user applying force so that the blades cut through the dirt and weeds. By spending a few minutes sharpening the blade, you’ll find yourself having a much easier time hoeing the weeds off the garden bed.  

Just like slicing vegetables with a kitchen knife, the task is much easier (and safer) with a sharp blade.


The Tool Merchants

Image Credit

Garden Hoe by SashaKhalabuzar
Berry & Bird Dutch Hoe


Hi I'm Mike, a self-proclaimed plantician (an invented profession to describe a plant enthusiast). Based in Sydney Australia, I enjoy the great outdoors and the greenery things around the garden, in particular, indoor climbing plants.

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