Everything you need to know about the Hori Hori knife

Date Posted: 05 July 2018


Every serious gardener needs to know about Japanese garden tools. They are long lasting, practical and used for many precise gardening tasks. Whilst there are many Japanese gardening tools to consider for your toolbox, a hori hori knife offers plenty of multi-purpose benefits - and for those unsure about its various uses and benefits, here’s everything you need to know.

What is a Hori Hori knife?

Often referred as a ‘soil knife’ or ‘weeding knife’, the popular hori hori knife is a multipurpose tool, used for both digging and cutting. Its steel blade is sharp on both sides, and has a semi-sharp point at the end. The tool originates from Japan, where it has been used for centuries to remove vegetables and Sanasi plants from the mountains.

The word ‘hori’ literally means ‘to dig’ in Japanese, and the phrase ‘hori hori’ is the onomatopoeia for a digging sound. Although by definition it’s a digging tool, the hori hori knife can be used in an eclectic range of gardening tasks.

There are several styles of Hori hori knives on the market, but what typically differentiates them is the handle. Traditional styles tend to have wooden or bamboo handles, but rubber and plastic handles are also available. 

The shape of the blade is typically uniformed from one model to the next, and the knife as a whole is relatively short. A hori hori knife generally ranges between 11-15 inches in size, including the handle. Our hori hori knife features a rosewood handle, and comes complete with a leather holster, ideal for anyone with a penchant for westerns.


Uses of the Hori Hori knife

The dimensions of a hori hori knife ensure that it’s an extremely versatile tool, suitable for making light work for a variety of different gardening tasks. This tool is designed to be one-handed, and its unusual shape means it can be treated as a combination of a trowel, knife and saw.

Cutting - The two sided knife makes it easy to cut through different kinds of foliage. One side is jagged, and can be used for cutting through roots and difficult weeds; the other side has a smoother blade appropriate for more delicate cutting tasks, such as slicing through small weeds, stems or bags of fertiliser.

Planting - The point of the blade enables you to dig rows for seeds, seedlings, and holes for larger plants. It’s also made easier with the knife’s built-in ruler, which consists of notches on the blade. This allows you to measure if the holes or rows are the correct depth, and if you need to dig a little deeper or backfill slightly. 

Weeding and removal - The hori hori knife’s shape makes it an ideal weeding tool. Its blade can help loosen the soil around the weed’s root and effectively pull it out. For most gardeners weeding is one of the more tedious tasks, and with this tool they will save plenty of time weeding, attacking the roots straight away. 

The blade can also be used for removing old, stubborn tree stumps and bushes. The blade will help pull the dirt away from the root, allowing enough space to remove it. Although you’ll still need trimmers to remove the root, the hori hori knife can help to prepare the work space.

Harvesting root crops - The same method for weed removal can also be used to harvest root crops. The blade can remove excess soil, and lift the plant up using its curved tip. This method could take one to several attempts using the tool, depending on how loose the soil is.


Benefits of the Hori Hori knife

A hori hori knife’s benefits go hand-in-hand with their main uses, and offer even more of a reason to add one to your tool collection. 

The shape and versatility - The hori hori knife has a unique shape that can cover a variety of different gardening tasks, from cutting to planting to weeding. There’s a jagged side for tougher cutting taskers, a smoother side for minor cutting, and a point on the blade for digging. The tool is multi-purpose, and saves you changing up your tools as you undertake different tasks.

Cost effective - Considering the hori hori knife has multi-purpose benefits, you’ve essentially secured several tools in one, and are saving on the purchase of multiple garden tools. 

Why is a Hori Hori knife better than a standard trowel?

A gardening trowel is quite basic in comparison to the hori hori knife. It’s generally designed for digging small holes, breaking up earth, mixing in fertilizer and transferring plants to pots. Although it benefits all of the aforementioned tasks, a hori hori knife is more efficient, and offers greater flexibility.

The hori hori knife’s shape and size means it can perform tasks more effectively. The two blades on either side help out with cutting tasks, and the pointed tip aids digging, planting and weeding jobs. All these features are more advanced than the standard trowel - making it an invaluable tool in every gardener’s arsenal.

Looking to add a hori hori knife to your gardening tool collection? We offer a selection of high quality Japanese garden tools, including our much-loved hori hori knife.