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Hey hoe, the nifty way to negate weeds

TRADITIONALLY there were two main types of longhandled hoe - draw hoes, which skim the surface when pulled towards you, and Dutch hoes which do the same when pushed away from you.

Both really come into their own when weeding between rows of crops. In the more confined space of a border, a hoe that works by both pushing and pulling is likely to prove more practical.

Gardening Which? trialled 12 different hoe designs, by getting 66 members of our user-panel to try them out in their gardens and allotments.

The overall winner was the Wilkinson Sword Swoe. This looks more like a golf club than a traditional hoe, and has an angled blade with cutting edges on three sides, making it very versatile. The stainless steel version costs £22 and the carbon steel version is about £5 cheaper.

If you just want a standard Dutch hoe, we found the Wilkinson Sword Carbon Steel Dutch Hoe at £17 hard to beat.

When using a hoe, remember to keep it clean and sharp so it severs the weeds rather than pushing them out of the ground. Hoe little and often, skimming just below the surface.

Choose a dry day, then the weeds will shrivel up, rather than re-rooting. If the ground is wet, rake up the weeds when you have finished. Keeping the soil surface loose and dry also helps preserve soil moisture lower down, and may even help deter slugs and snails.

Jobs of the week Buy new strawberry plants or propagate your own from runners.

Plant by mid-August.

After flowering, prune deutzia by removing one stem in three to ground level, starting with the oldest and weakest. Prune philadelphus and weigela the same way.

Take 3cm cuttings from heathers and 10cm ones from escallonia, hypericum, passion flower and photinia.

For inspirational ideas coupled with reliable, research-based information, subscribe to Gardening Which? For your free trial issue, call Freephone 0800 252100 quoting code G-CC06, or visit www. gwfreetrial. co. uk. Payment details will be requested for use when your free trial ends.

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