Tool Time

Essential Tools

Our favorite garden tools for all your gardening adventures. You don’t have to have an extensive or expensive tool shed. Just 6 simple tools are all you need.

Must Haves

Shovel: Round point or flat point. The main digging tool for San Antonio. A round-pointed shovel will cut into the ground a little more easily and is a more versatile garden tool. The flat, square blade works best for edging beds and leveling soil.

Soil Knife: You might want a hand tool for digging smaller holes when you’re planting in a bed or weeding. A soil knife is good for both! This is a favorite of professional horticulturists as it can substitute for a hand trowel and hand pruners. It looks like a very narrow hand trowel with a serrated edge on one side.  

Hand Pruners/Loppers: Always cut with the “flat” face towards the plant. The diameter of the branch determines which one to use. There are bypass and anvil styles. Bypass works similar to scissors and is generally preferable to anvil which uses one blade to crush the limb against the other.

Pitchfork: A pitchfork can break up large sections of soil, especially in local heavy clay soils, making shoveling easier. 

Rake: Leaf rake vs. garden rake. Leaf or fan rakes are lightweight, flexible rakes best used to rake leaves from lawns into nearby beds to mulch or into piles for removal. A garden rake has a row of inflexible steel tines for raking soil in beds to remove surface rocks or clumps, or other heavy-duty raking needs. 

Hand Trowel: A hand trowel is versatile and good ones are affordable. Choose one that has the best ergonomic handle for you. 

Nice to Have

Talache or mattock: The best tool for getting a hole started in our clay soil.

Rock bar: For when the digging gets really tough. These are heavy metal bars similar to a crowbar but longer and meant to do the work for you. Use it by raising it and dropping it to the ground, letting gravity do the work rather than you hitting the ground with it.

Saw: Take it from our foresters, it is triangle teeth or nothing! You’ll get a faster, cleaner cut. Choose short ones for more control and look for a comfortable grip.

Hedge shears: This is the perfect tool for pruning perennials like Salvia every spring and hedges like boxwood in the summer.

Care of Your Tools

GSSA Orange Flower graphic

Tools are an investment. With a little proper care, they can last a lifetime.

Clean and dry after use and store in a dry location. You can occasionally oil them with spray oil and sharpen pruners with knife sharpeners.  

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