Woman weeding garden

Hori Hori Garden Knife: What is it, and do I really need one?

Imagine if you had just one tool that could do it all. Enter the Hori Hori Garden Knife.

Say goodbye to sifting through your garden shed or wasting time looking for the right tool.  No more juggling a spade, a weeder, a knife, and maybe even a ruler as you try to plant, prune, and maintain your beautiful outdoor space.

With its multifunctional use, the Hori Hori Garden Knife may just be the gardening game-changer you’ve been waiting for. Let’s take a look at what exactly this estranged named tool is and why you really need one in your gardening toolkit. 

What is a Hori Hori garden knife?

The name “hori hori” is derived from the Japanese word “hori,” which means “to dig,” and it’s also an onomatopoeic representation of the digging sound.

A Hori Hori knife, sometimes referred to as a “soil knife” or a “weeding knife,” is a versatile gardening tool originating from Japan and is the epitome of efficiency.  With its multipurpose design, you can use your Hori Hori for various garden tasks such as digging, cutting, and weeding. The knife features a heavy, serrated steel blade that is sharp on both sides and tapers to a semi-sharp point at the end, and measurements on the knife itself. 

The Hori Hori knife usually has a sturdy wooden handle, making it comfortable to hold and easy to use. The blade often features a beveled or curved edge, perfect for getting into tight spaces or slicing through roots. Some knives also include a serrated edge, which can come in handy for cutting through thicker materials. The blade is typically made of carbon steel, ensuring durability and easy maintenance over the years.

Thanks to its efficiency and variety of uses, the Hori Hori knife is gaining popularity among gardeners worldwide. If you’re looking to add a versatile tool to your gardening arsenal, this Japanese digging knife might just be the perfect addition. It will not only help you with various tasks in your garden but also be a sturdy and reliable companion for years to come.

History and Origin of Hori Hori Knives

The story of the hori hori garden knife begins in Japan, where it was initially developed as a high-quality gardening tool. The name “hori hori” is actually onomatopoeic, reflecting the digging sound made when the knife cuts through the soil. In Japanese, “hori” means “to dig,” making “hori hori” a fitting name for this versatile tool.

Traditionally, the Japanese hori hori knife was used to extract root vegetables and mountain vegetation. Its serrated edge made it perfect for sawing through woody stems or roots, earning it a reputation as a reliable tool for pruning shrubs or digging up plants such as dandelions.

But the hori hori knife’s versatility doesn’t end there. Over time, it gained popularity among Western gardeners who discovered its many applications. The knife’s sharp, double-edged blade and semi-sharp point enable it to cut, dig, and weed with ease, reducing the need for multiple tools.

Interestingly, the hori hori has played a significant role in bonsai cultivation as well. Originating in the mountains of Japan, the knife was once used by bonsai collectors who needed a sturdy and dependable tool for harvesting these delicate trees. It comes as no surprise that the hori hori knife gradually became an essential implement in Western gardens too, where it’s now regarded as an indispensable, multi-purpose tool.

What to Look for In A Hori Hori Garden Knife

When looking for the perfect tool for your gardening needs, a Hori Hori Knife is essential. Its stainless steel blade makes it both durable and corrosion-resistant. The blade offers versatility with its serrated edge, perfect for sawing and cutting through roots or branches, and a concave edge that assists in tasks that require scooping, such as transplanting and weeding.

With a robust full tang, the blade extends into the wooden handle, ensuring strength and durability in your Hori Hori Knife. The ergonomic handle, usually made of high-quality wood, provides a comfortable grip and effective control while using the knife.

To protect your Hori Hori Knife and to keep it sharp when not in use, a sheath is provided, made of either leather or nylon. These sheaths are designed to provide longevity, and some even come with a belt loop, making them easy to carry while gardening.

The length of the Hori Hori Knife varies but is typically around 12 inches (30 cm) in total, with the blade measuring approximately 6 to 7 inches (15 to 18 cm); this ensures that it is the right size for many gardening tasks. Additionally, some well-regarded brands offer a lifetime warranty on their Hori Hori Knives, ensuring that you can trust the product’s quality.

Using Your Hori Hori Garden Knife


The hori hori garden knife is an excellent tool for planting seeds and bulbs. Its sharp, beveled blade allows you to easily dig holes in the soil, while the etched ruler on the blade helps you measure precise planting depths. To use it for planting, simply press the blade into the soil to create a hole, place your seed or bulb in the hole, and cover it with soil. The curved blade makes scooping and replacing soil effortlessly.


Digging in your garden with a hori hori knife is a breeze. The stainless steel, precision-ground edge allows you to break through compacted soil and small roots with ease. The serrated edge can also saw through larger roots and stubborn obstacles that you might encounter while digging. Since the hori hori knife is more compact than a typical spade, it’s perfect for working in tight spaces or for jobs that don’t require a lot of digging.


A hori hori knife is a versatile and useful weapon against weeds in your garden. The sharp point and beveled edge are perfect for getting under the roots of weeds, allowing you to remove them with minimal soil disturbance. Just slide the blade under the weed and then gently leverage it out of the soil. The serrated edge can also be used to saw through thicker weeds or cut back overgrown plants.


Transplanting small plants and seedlings is simple with a hori hori knife. The blade’s shape makes it ideal for cutting through the soil around a plant’s root ball. Gently loosen the soil around the plant you want to transplant, and then carefully lift it out with the hori hori knife. The curved blade is also great for scooping out soil to create a new hole for the transplant, ensuring a smooth transition for your plants.

When not in use, a hori hori knife can be safely stored in a leather sheath to protect both the blade and your other gardening tools. With its numerous applications and friendly design, a hori hori knife is an indispensable tool for any gardener.

Other Uses of Hori Hori Knives

Friendly reminder: a Hori Hori knife can be more than just a garden tool! Its multi-purpose design allows you to explore various other uses. In this section, you’ll find out how versatile this Japanese knife can be.

Sawing: Thanks to the serrated edge, your Hori Hori knife can be used for sawing through woody stems and roots. This makes it a handy tool for pruning shrubs or cutting small branches in the garden.

Harvesting: If you enjoy foraging, the Hori Hori knife is your new best friend. Its sharp blade lets you efficiently harvest mountain vegetation and other edible plants you may encounter on your adventures.

Tea harvesting: You might be surprised to know that your Hori Hori knife is an excellent tea harvester. The blade’s width and size enable you to pick tea leaves with ease, ensuring a fresh and authentic tea experience.

Rocks: Dealing with rocks and stones? No problem. Your Hori Hori knife can also be used to pry out rocks from the soil without breaking a sweat. This makes it a reliable companion for any. 

Top Hori Hori Knives and Brands

Looking for the perfect hori hori garden knife? You’ve come to the right place!

We are excited to share with you our personal recommendations on the best Hori Hori knives and brands that will transform your gardening routine. 

Truly Garden Hori Hori Garden Tool

The Truly Garden Hori Hori Garden Tool is widely regarded as one of the best overall hori hori knives. This versatile Japanese hori hori knife boasts a full-tang stainless steel blade, making it perfect for digging, weeding, and cutting tasks in your garden.

Fiskars Big Grip Multipurpose Planting Knife

Another excellent option for a hori hori knife is the Fiskars Big Grip Multipurpose Planting Knife. This Hori Hori comes in a close second and really gives you the bang for your buck. This knife features a durable stainless steel blade with a serrated edge and a comfortable Softgrip handle, ensuring a secure grip during use.

Nisaku NJP650

Another notable hori hori knife option is the Nisaku NJP650 Hori Hori Stainless Steel Weeding Knife. This knife is well known for its razor-sharp cutting edges and incredible digging power, making this Japanese-made knife the go-to choice for many gardeners.

Barebones Living Hori Hori Ultimate Knife

The Barebones Living Hori Hori Ultimate Knife offers a unique combination of functionality and style.  Its popular rugged design features a full-tang stainless steel blade with a durable walnut handle, as well as a twine cutter and bottle opener.

Maintenance and Care

Taking care of your Hori Hori garden knife is essential to ensure it stays in good condition and maintains optimal performance. In this section, we will guide you through some basic maintenance and care tips that you can follow to keep your tool in great condition.

Cleaning Your Hori Hori Knife

Be sure to clean your Hori Hori knife after each use to avoid the build-up of dirt and debris. You can simply use a brush or cloth with water. Drying it thoroughly will help prevent rust formation, as the blade might be rust-resistant but not entirely rust-proof.

Sharpening Your Hori Hori Knife

Sharpening your Hori Hori knife is crucial to maintain its cutting efficiency. You can use a sharpening stone or whetstone to do this task. There are also videos available that demonstrate how to properly sharpen your Hori Hori knife with a sharpening rod. Remember that both the straight edge and the serrated edge need to be sharpened separately, and different techniques might be required for each side.

While sharpening, make sure to follow the etched angle on the blade, as it will help maintain the factory-set edge for optimal performance. Using a lubricant such as honing oil can also enhance the sharpening process by reducing friction and heat.

Keeping Your Hori Hori Handle Splinter Free

Since your Hori Hori knife is likely to have a wooden handle, it’s essential to preserve its look and feel. To do this, occasionally apply some linseed oil or any other suitable wood treatment oil to the handle. This will keep the wood in good condition and prevent it from cracking or splintering over time.

In addition to the above-mentioned steps, always store your Hori Hori knife in a dry and cool place to protect it from moisture and extreme temperature changes. Following these tips will not only help maintain the functionality and durability of your tool but also ensure a more enjoyable gardening experience with your Hori Hori knife.

Safety and Usage Tips

When using a hori hori garden knife, it’s essential to prioritize safety and get the most out of this versatile tool. To ensure your comfort while working, choose a knife with an ergonomic design. A well-designed handle allows you to grip the knife easily, minimizing fatigue and strain on your hands. Look for a knife with a finger guard for extra protection and a full-tang blade for durability.

Choose a hori hori knife made with high-quality materials, such as rust-proof blade material, to prolong its lifespan. A plastic handle with metal rivets or a beechwood handle can provide added durability. When it comes to warranty, opt for a knife that offers a 5-year or even a lifetime warranty to ensure product satisfaction and long-term use.

As a Japanese gardening knife, the hori hori serves as a multi-purpose tool. You’ll find it useful for various tasks, such as weeding, digging, and cutting. Make sure to take advantage of the blade’s features like measurement markings engraved on the blade, which can help you plant bulbs or seeds at the correct depth.

When using the knife, remember that it may have a sharp straight edge and may be sharp on both sides. Practice caution when handling it and avoid accidental cuts. The hori hori garden knife may come with a plastic sheath or a belt clip for safe storage and easy access when working in your garden. Maintain the sharpness of the blade and clean it after use to prevent rusting and ensure its longevity.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best uses for a Hori Hori garden knife?

A Hori Hori knife is versatile and can be used for various tasks in your garden, such as weeding, planting, splitting, and transplanting. The dual-edged knife has a stainless steel, precision-ground edge for multi-purpose cuts and a serrated edge for sawing.

Which brands make high-quality Hori Hori knives?

There are several brands that produce high-quality Hori Hori knives. The recommendations we listed above are our favorites.

What is the difference between a Hori Hori knife and a regular garden trowel?

A Hori Hori knife has a pointed, concave steel blade with one straight edge and one serrated edge, making it more versatile than a regular garden trowel. Its beveled design allows it to scoop soil, saw through roots, and cut through leaves. A garden trowel, on the other hand, has a flat, broad blade primarily meant for digging and scooping.

What are the common dimensions of a Hori Hori knife?

Hori Hori knives generally have a blade between 6 and 7 inches in length. The overall length, including the handle, can vary between 11 and 12 inches. The rounded blade’s width is typically around 2 inches.

What makes Japanese Hori Hori knives unique?

Japanese Hori Hori knives are unique due to their craftsmanship, materials, and dedicated functionality. Originating in Japan, these knives were initially designed for collecting bonsai plants. Their versatility, durability, and precision make them a valuable tool in any gardener’s collection.

Final Thoughts

Now that we’ve dug deep into the world of the Hori Hori garden knife, you can see how this gardening wonder-tool can seriously upgrade your garden game. Whether you’re pruning your roses, uprooting pesky weeds, or planting your next vibrant bed of petunias, this trusty knife is ready to be your companion.

A Hori Hori garden knife isn’t just a tool—it’s a testament to the beautiful art of gardening. It helps you plant deeper, care better, and grow your garden in ways you might have never imagined. So, why not give one a try?