Hori horis pretty much do it all. They cut open bags of mulch or pieces of twine. They dig out weeds, they create trenches to plant seeds, they cut off small branches and free potbound plants from their containers (by destroying the container). And most off all, I felt like a gardening badass wielding a big ol’ knife in the yard.
I had two main problems with my original hori hori: Its wood handle was not particularly comfortable to use and meant that if I stuck it in the ground for a second I might spend the next 20 minutes looking for it and there was no ergonomic design to it at all.
Then I found out about the Professional Gardener’s Digging Tool, which is sort of a hori hori on steroids. I thought this would be improvement I had been looking for. First, it has a red handle so I wouldn’t lose it as much. Second, the handle is offset from the blade so you get a lot more digging power. And third, there is a nice hand guard that you can use to push against.
But the the blade on it is very thick. This is good for serious digging because there’s no way this thing is going to break, but it’s not good for any of the other things I like to do with my hori hori. The blade wasn’t really sharp at all, so cutting plastic bags was reduced to poking a hole in them and ripping. It was also no good for light pruning. One of my favorite things to do with my hori hori is to stick it in the ground at the root level of a stubborn weed and turn it around it, cutting the roots. Because the blade on this was so average, that didn’t work. And the thing is a beast, so it’s not like you can stick it in your pocket or anything.
I don’t know anyone who had tried a soil knife who hasn’t fallen in love with it, at least in concept. So there must be several versions out there, right? They were surprisingly hard to find.
Here’s what my perfect soil knife would have:
- A sharp stainless steel blade, flat on one side and serrated on the other.
- A brightly colored handle made of something other than wood.
- Some sort of ergonomic design to the handle. Ideally it would be offset, but I’d at least like something that conforms to a shape of your hand a bit.