Essential Tools for the South Texas Garden

Need to tame some ferocious fronds of foliage? Try this tool trifecta and you’ll wonder how you ever gardened without them.

In my work for SAWS conservation I’ve visited many customers’ garages on the way to the irrigation controller. Over time I’ve seen all the standard yard equipment (and marveled at many vintage cars, power tools and workshops), but I’ve been surprised at the regular absence of the most essential pruning tools.

Here’s a few must-haves for taming the savage South Texas garden.

Hand pruners

Basically scissors for plants, hand pruners are tiny loppers that make clean, easy cuts in woody stems and branches. They make a great holiday gift for the gardener on your list and will likely be immediately appreciated! (And they’ll get immediate use come early spring to clean up winter damage.) Various designs are available for different ergonomic needs — left handed varieties included.

Pruning saw

A true landscaper always uses a saw meant for pruning. A bow saw is not one. Pruning saws have a single blade, triangle or diamond shaped teeth, a sturdy handle, and the ability to make under-cuts and over-cuts with ease.

Stirrup hoe/Hula hoe/Scuff hoe

Names like “hula hoe” make it sound like a novelty, but try it and you’ll wonder how you ever gardened without it. Like a stirrup attached to a long handle, a sharp scuffle hoe is a pleasure to use, loosening and scraping weeds quickly and precisely around other bedding plants — without having to lean over (just make sure you get a long handle). A proper stroke slices weeds off right beneath the surface of the soil. Scuffle hoes make for easy weeding while standing even in mulched beds and containers, but they’re good for scraping weeds on gravel and crushed granite, too.

There’s no holidays in gardening. But with the right tools, gardening can seem like a getaway.

Picture of Brad Wier
Brad Wier
Brad Wier is a SAWS conservation planner. Years in South Texas landscaping and public horticulture gave him a lasting enthusiasm for native plants that don’t die when sprinklers -- and gardeners -- break down. He’d rather save time and water for kayaking and tubing. He is a former kilt model, and hears hummingbirds.
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