Southern Agrarianism and the culture of the Old South

Getting To Know The Scuffle Hoe

Three Scuffle Hoes

Three Scuffle Hoes. The one on the right is made by Rogue Hoe and is built to last a lifetime.

My cousin introduced me to the Scuffle Hoe, and I’m grateful that he did. The Scuffle Hoe is a rather specialized tool. It does an excellent job of getting rid of small, just-emerging weeds in loose soil. The sandy soil that we have here in this part of The South is ideal for using this tool – especially when it is dry.

The Scuffle Hoe is used by sliding the blade just a bit below the surface to cut the weeds off below the ground level. If the soil is dry, that makes it easier to use, and the weeds dry out very quickly so they can’t take root again. It is much easier to control than a regular field hoe when working close to garden plants. Think of it as a maintenance tool intended to keep your garden clean. Use a regular field hoe for the big stuff.

There are two basic types of Scuffle Hoe, and they both work the same way. One uses a blade (shown on the left in the above photo, also known as a stirrup hoe) and the other is a triangular blade. So far, both have held up well, but I suspect that the triangular design is the tougher, more durable of the two.

If you haven’t used one before, make it a point to get one and try it out. If you have very hard packed soil or heavy clay, wait until you’ve improved the soil before trying to use one. If you start out with a clean garden, a Scuffle Hoe will make it easy to keep it clean.

2 Comments

  1. Brady

    I use a scuffle hoe weekly in my garden. I have a garden that has a couple inches of tree chippings (chipped up tree branches, all different grades) on the surface of the soil (what I call soil). Occasionally I get weeds growing through the composted newspaper below the chippings. The easiest way to control this for me has been the bladed scuffle hoe show in the picture, upper left. Three to four minutes with a file to keep it sharp before using, it works excellent, even for weeds emerging from wood chips. In soft/sandy Central Florida dirt, it will glide through the dirt and take the weeds out by their roots. Typically, besides normal lawn maintenance, the only other week to week tool I use in my garden and garden beds is that scuffle hoe. This one has been around for so long I re-handled it and put it back in service. One of the best and most under used pieces of equipment for a farmer/gardener/homesteader to have, in my opinion. Great article!

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      Thank you, Brady. Question: How much, if any, does the tree chippings interfere with using the scuffle hoe? Maybe I’m thinking of larger chunks than you have, but I’ve always been hesitant to use them in a garden for that reason. When we had a number of trees removed and stumps ground here, I made sure that they removed all the chips rather than just bury them as they normally do. I’m glad to hear that it’s working well for you.

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