The tools and products shown here are among my personal gardening faves. I update this list when I run across something I’m excited about and want to share. If there’s an item you’re looking for or would like to recommend, or a link that’s out of date, please let me know! — Debra


Regardless of where you live or how large your garden, you’ll enjoy Garden Design magazine. It features the best garden photography in the world without any ads—pure inspiration, four times a year—and makes a great gift, too. Use this link to subscribe and get your first issue free…on me!

The Spring ’16 issue, which features yours truly, is on Garden Design’s website.


A hose-end trigger sprayer ensures water goes where you want it and isn’t wasted.  Gilmore’s Thumb Control Hose Nozzle is a terrific sprayer with easily adjustable apertures, from mist to narrow blast. Every time I use it, I marvel at its design and usefulness. Around $16.

Trigger sprayers ensure you don't waste water. I love this one's multiple settings!


From p. 127 of Designing with Succulents (2nd ed.). Links added: 

My garden tools include a trowel, tongs for grasping cactus, 70% alcohol for spraying aphids and mealies, clippers for fine pruning, a small screwdriver for adjusting irrigation sprayers, a sun visor, leather gloves, Felco pruners, two pairs of pliers (one for holding a riser, the other for unscrewing the head), long tweezers for reaching where my fingers can’t, a soil knife for cutting roots, and a serrated kitchen knife for sawing through soft limbs (such as those of yuccas).


In my blog post, “My Must-have Garden Tools for Handling Spiky, Spiny Succulents the tools are 12-inch tweezers, kitchen tongs, artist’s brush, chopstick, scissors, metal teaspoon, inexpensive garden gloves, and duct tape.

I wear the gloves while a friend wraps them (or vice versa). Before potting small cacti, I put on a pair of nitrile gloves and have my husband wrap them with duct tape. Pack of 6, $11.50

Gloves for holding cactus

Duct tape wrapped around the fingers of gloves lets you pick up small cacti without getting poked.


I prefer rubber string (a soft, flexible coated wire product) to rope, stretchy green tape or wire for tying branches and training plants. It’s tough but bendable, easy to secure (simply twist) and easy on the hands…and eyes. The color blends right in. About $15 for 16 feet.



In my post, “How to Get Your Succulents Through Cold, Wet North American Winters,” I recommend:
— For covering plants during brief frosts, use DeWitt’s “winterization cloth freeze blanket, Agribon’s floating row cover; Pellon nonwoven fabric; or simply use old bedsheets.
— If temps drop into the 20s, consider a Walk-In Greenhouse that can be dismantled and stored during warmer months.
— For overwintering succulents indoors, the ultimate plant-shelf unit is made of lightweight, powder-coated aluminum. It has adjustable lights with energy-efficient, full-spectrum bulbs; plastic drip trays; and wheels for easy positioning. Three shelves provide 18 square feet of growing space. From Gardener’s Supply Co.; about $600. 


— You’ll need a timer that automatically turns lights on and off to simulate daylight. This has multiple outlets:  Titan Apollo 14, about $26. 

Also see: How to Keep Succulents Happy Indoors


Agave snout weevil drench: Per my online article and YouTube video, both titled “Agave Snout Weevil Prevention and Treatment,” experts recommend a systemic insecticide that contains Imidacloprid, such as:

Insecticide drench



From Designing with Succulents, 2nd ed., p. 135 (with product links added):

Annually in your garden right before a winter rainstorm, spread Ironite according to package directions. In spring, as succulents awaken from dormancy, apply a balanced granular fertilizer. March or April is also the best time to feed container-grown succulents; I give mine a tea made from composted, dehydrated cow manure. 

My succulents love Annie Haven’s Moo Poo tea


In my YouTube video, “Drill Holes in Nondraining Containers,” the power drill is a DEWALT DW246 7.8 Amp 1/2-Inch Drill with Keyless Chuck, around $150 on Amazon. Dewalt Power Drill

The diamond drill bit (“1/2 inch Diamond Tipped Hole Saw Drill Bit for Ceramic Tile Glass”) came from Home Depot, but it’s also available on Amazon for around $4.50.

Diamond drill bit


No-splash watering can has a narrow spout that puts water where you want it—at the plant’s base, not on its leaves. Wet foliage doesn’t harm succulents, but when drops dry, they can leave white rings from mineral deposits.

I keep a pretty watering can near my pot plants I keep a good-looking watering can near my potted plants. $15


Kevlar sleeves are a must when gardening in close proximity to spiny plants, such as cacti or agaves. These cut-resistant tubes protect your arms, are made of stretch fabric, and have a thumb slot. Around $8 per sleeve (sold singly; order two).

18-inch Kevlar knit sleeve protects from scratches 18-inch Kevlar knit sleeve protects from scratches


Useful items you may already have: 

Kitchen tongs (around $6) are handy for grasping and potting-up cacti and small agaves with sharp tips, and for twisting pads off opuntias.

I use pieces of aluminum window screen (sold by the roll for around $8.50) to keep soil from falling through the drain holes of pots. It cuts easily with scissors. Alternatively, get a roll of drywall tape.

I wouldn’t be without a chopstick to settle roots of succulents. It’s essential when small nursery plants are tucked together so tightly, I’m not able to manipulate their root balls to settle them.

An old metal teaspoon (mine was mangled by a garbage disposal) is perfect for funneling topdressing into gaps between plants. You can also use a real funnel, but anything larger than coarse sand may clog it.

A soft artist’s brush is great for cleaning dirt off leaves and spines, and the pointed end of the handle can be used like a chopstick to settle roots.


Many of these links go to Amazon because their prices are as good as any, and as an affiliate, I receive a small percentage of any sales that originate on my website. I’m grateful if you obtain items that way, but most are readily available at hardware, department, home improvement or drug stores as well.