Guide written by:
Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter
Any gardener who knows their stuff should know the importance of weeding and soil-loosening tools for the health of their plants. Choose carefully between hoes, petrol or manual weeding tools and more. You'll save effort and increase your garden's productivity!
- Garden Claw
- Agricultural claw
- Weeding tool
- Extruding knife
Why loosen the soil?
Loosening your soil is essential for successful plants. Basically, you want to decompress the top layers of soil crucial for plants to thrive.
In this way you promote water penetration to the roots, letting the soil breathealong with the organisms that work through it and conserving soil moisture (avoiding letting it rise to the surface by capillary action, as is the case in a compact soil). This in turn promotes the development of young roots.
What tools will you need?
Loosening soil is an operation that must be carried out regularly. However, you won't use the same tool to prepare your entire plot for starting over and to work on existing, already cultivated plots.
Starting from scratch
You'll want a tool with long handle, to benefit from the efficiency of broad, powerful strokes and take the strain off your lower back.
At the start of the season, you might even want to go over with a manual tiller or tilling machine.
A tool with short handle will allow you more precision and delicacy, in terms of width as well as depth, so you can avoid damaging surrounding plants. To loosen your soil, use a hoe or garden claw.
Tools for soil loosening
This is a very traditional tool for loosening soil. However, it can also be used to weed vegetable beds, etc. Its blade scrapes the ground to loosen the surface, and if well sharpened, it will give you a result similar to weeding - a clear, clean cut through undesirable weeds and plants.
Less obvious from the name, this tool is also for hoeing. Its large hooks break down clods very effectively and work them to produce a well broken up soil, ideal for planting. Several types of claw can be differentiated: agricultural, rotary, scraper, flower, rake:
For hoeing and weeding, this tool breaks the surface crust of the soil and at the same time strips off undesirable vegetation.
This tool aerates the soil without turning it (a sort of "rotary underground hoe", perfect for preserving animals and microorganisms that work the earth and give it its quality).
Again, clue's in the name: this tool scrapes and weeds at the same time.
Designed for more precise, restricted use - to let you work meticulously around fragile and delicate plants.
Ideal for hard and stony soil.
Number of teeth
The choice of number of teeth on your garden claw will depend on the area you need to cover, the level of precision you want, and the density of vegetation on your plot. Small, well spaced teeth will allow you to slip more easily between plants.
Types of claw
Tips for loosening soil
By all means equip yourself with different tools for weeding and soil loosening - as you've seen, they complement one another for overall gardening productivity.
Hoeing implies weeding, and vice versa. So make sure you regularly use your tools to do both at the same time.
In any case, the best way is to hoe and weed daily and supplement where necessary with more concentrated weeding of stubborn areas.
Your soilcan also be conditioned with motorized tools such as a tilling machine (the faster, the noisier - for a once over at the start of the season).
If you need to weed, go with manual, environmentally sound methods where possible - rather than pumping your soil full of glyphosate and other chemical weedkillers.
Learn more about garden maintenance...
To find out more about garden maintenance, follow our editors' advice and check out their other guides:
How to choose your weeding tools?
How to choose your lawnmower?
How to choose your lawn?
How to choose your drip irrigation system?
How to choose your rainwater collector?
How to choose your irrigation controller?
How to choose your garden hose?How to choose your tiller?How to choose your tilling machine?How to choose your hedge trimmer?How to choose your protective gloves?How to choose your weed killer?How to choose your sprayer?
Guide written by:
Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter, 187 guides
Redo a roof with wooden beams? Check.Advise Mister everybody in the DIY shop? Check.Redo the bathroom plumbing? Check.Fit together, build the walls, paint a partition, throw my hammer in a rage thinking that it will fix the problem? Check. The DIY motto ? Learning is better than delegating… well, it's also a question about your wallet! The satisfaction? The beer at the end of the job! What do the best have in common? The influence of Gyro Gearloose, Mac Gyver and Carol Smiley depending on your generation, a good dose of curiosity, a average hand-eye coordination and a taste for risks… and if it doesn't work, try again! Advise you? I'll do my best!