The Intersection of Plants and People

A New Tool for the Shed

The CobraHead is excellent at digging through frustratingly dense, clay-heavy soil.

The CobraHead is excellent at digging through frustratingly dense, clay-heavy soil. Photo: Benita Green Lee

About a year ago, CobraHead LLC contacted PlantXing, offering to send a complimentary sample of their Weeder and Cultivator tool. The offer was accepted (why not?) and shortly thereafter, a very dangerous-looking implement arrived, well-packed in a cardboard shipping box. Due to lower back injuries following an overly enthusiastic morning in the garden, it was set aside, up high and away from the curious hands of youngsters, for better days.

Eventually, the tool resurfaced and was set to the task of ripping out the weeds that embarrass homeowners by growing in the cracks that line the driveway. How do the neighbors keep theirs so neat, and when do they manage to do it, as they are never visibly tugging away at the tricky little opportunists? It’s either a mystery, or it’s something like Roundup, which PlantXing cannot in good conscience recommend.

So, how did the CobraHead, with it’s sickle-shaped metal neck and solid, blue, plastic handle do with those weeds? Well – to be honest – okay. The problem with putting the CobraHead to that task is that the cracks are too narrow for its oval tip, so the person weeding has to scrape away at odd angles to get to the weeds, which ends up making the wrists sore. A weed grubber (the tool that looks like the child of a screwdriver and a barbecue fork) is still needed for the majority of the work.

But, wait – there’s more: We at PlantXing were determined to fully examine the potential usefulness of the CobraHead, and since it is officially a weeder and cultivator, it went into the wooden bucket with the other tools in constant rotation — the weed grubber, spade, pruning shears and the office scissors which have become dull from being inappropriately used in the garden for a purpose you will soon understand.

Colorado soil is confounding. In irrigated areas, such as the suburbs, it ranges from clay to muck. When dry, it’s like a rocky sandbox. The patches that have been amended may be brown and moist like the best Devil’s Food Cake, but still don’t behave like beautifully rich Eastern soil (though admittedly the better texture makes digging a little easier). Excavating in such miserable Western soil is where the CobraHead shines.

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be an anteater, gouging through soil with long, deadly claws in search of grubs and other crawling proteins, pick up a CobraHead and start flailing at the earth. It tears through just about anything (though watch out for roots and irrigation lines, and for your knees). Worms part ways with themselves confusedly and ant colonies race in a panic when the CobraHead begins slicing through their hushed, dark worlds.

Digging is when the CobraHead is a wonder to behold, especially for chores such as planting fall bulbs. Six inches is not that bad, even in the most miserable clay, if you’re wielding a CobraHead. And when an inch of digging reveals landscaping fabric used to block out weeds, the CobraHead can whack a nice hole into the material – just enough to get your sad little scissors in there to cut a space for some of next year’s flowers to poke through.

After much use, the CobraHead has proven itself to be a great tool, and a wonderful collaborator with the various garden gadgets toted around the yard. For digging — excellent. For weeding — very nice, but your grubber will have to step in from time to time to assist. We at PlantXing just have one request to the family who makes CobraHead in Wisconsin, U.S.A.: Please make a narrower version of your tool to better manage the unpleasant task of scraping weeds out of the sidewalk cracks. It would be a very welcome addition to the gardener’s toolshed.

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2 comments on “A New Tool for the Shed

  1. Schreiner's Iris Gardens
    October 22, 2014

    Informative and humorous — doesn’t get better than that. All gardeners will surely appreciate the information and honest review of the CobraHead.


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This entry was posted on October 18, 2014 by in Feature, Find, Uncategorized and tagged , , .
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