This is the newest garden tool in my collection and although it may be one of the more expensive hand tools at $46, it is not the workhorse I had hoped it would be. The Swoe is like the little sister to the Dutch hoe. Very flashy and promising in appearance but not really as useful as it promises to be. I would classify it as a fine tuning tool. It slices through weeds easily in soil that has already been cultivated. You need to apply some elbow grease for uncultivated ground. The Swoe glides just under the surface of the soil and leaves your topsoil fairly undisturbed which would please "no till" enthusiasts. It is particularly good for navigating around plantings. The angled edge can be tipped on the side to easily work around the base of a plant (where weeds like to hide).
I was planning on getting a Dutch hoe when the salesman at the specialty garden tool shop talked me into the Swoe instead. I admit I was swayed by the sexy angles and lightness of the tool, but I regret this decision. The Swoe is for dabbling. Great for those days when you want to putter a bit and fluff up the beds, without getting your hands dirty, but not for tackling a seriously weedy bed.
I have been on the hunt for a Dutch hoe since seeing Sam Youd, Head Gardener of Tatton Park, deftly tackle a row of weeds with his. I am a bit of a groupie of Sam Youd's. I've watched his free gardening video podcasts since they began on iTunes. There is something immensely relaxing about witnessing Youd march through Tatton Park in his tweeds, confidently offering up gardening tips. The gentle music playing us from scene to scene adds to the ambience. So, naturally, like any good groupie, I wanted a Dutch hoe exactly like Sam Youd's. Here's the RSS feed to his video podcasts.
Unfortunately Dutch hoes are very hard to come by in this country. Smith & Hawkens currently offers one through Target's online ordering at $69, but it is not available in stores. Their Dutch hoe is supposed to be forged in England (a country that knows a thing or two about garden tools), but Smith & Hawken's hand tools, pictured below, turned out to be made in China.