Hand Garden Cultivator

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Robert Pavlis

This garden tool is designed for weeding and loosening the surface of your soil. You see them everywhere and I always wondered why people buy them??? I’ve never found any use for them.

Hand garden cultivator
Hand garden cultivator

Hand Garden Cultivator

Since the handle of the hand garden cultivator is very short, you have to get down on your hands and knees to use it. If your garden bed is any wider than about 3 feet, you will have to crawl into the bed to use it. So now your knees are trampling your flowers to say nothing about your aching back!

What is it used for? I think you might use it to remove weeds and cultivate the soil. Let’s look at these.

Removing weeds

The tines on the hand garden cultivator are skinny and cylindrical. They are not designed to catch and pull on weeds. They just pass by weeds. The only way to weed with this tool is to loosen the soil and then pull out the weed by hand. We all know that loosening the soil brings weed seeds to the surface creating an even bigger weed problem. This tool is just not effective for weed control.

Plant Science for Gardeners by Robert Pavlis

Soil cultivation

A very common myth is that you need to loosen the surface of your soil ie cultivate it. Rain drops will compact your soil and form a hard surface. This is the crusty surface you get over time. It is true that water does not soak into this crust as well as on cultivated soil, but cultivated soil soon forms a new crust. It is a never ending chore to keep the crust off the soil – if you do it manually.

Cultivating the soil increases the number of weeds, as discussed above. Since weeds are both esthetically undesirable, and they rob nutrients from you plants, you don’t want more weeds. Cultivation of your soil is NOT a good practice. Add a mulch instead; it will keep weeds from sprouting and keep the crust from forming.


This tool might work for scraping soil off the bottom of your boots and it could also be used to scratch a mosquito bite in a hard to reach place. Other than that it is a useless tool for gardening. Even the long handled version is not very useful since you should not be cultivating your soil.


1) Photo Source: Frank

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Robert Pavlis

I have been gardening my whole life and have a science background. Besides writing and speaking about gardening, I own and operate a 6 acre private garden called Aspen Grove Gardens which now has over 3,000 perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. Yes--I am a plantaholic!

20 thoughts on “Hand Garden Cultivator”

  1. I think the best use of it is in vermicomposting for burying trash so the flies won’t get to it, but reducing the chance of severing any worms that are close to the surface.


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