You, too, can be a Tool of Destruction

[Second Sunday Gardeners WeedWrangle® 2022]

[Or: “How to Borrow a Weed Wrench”]

People volunteer at a WeedWrangle® for countless reasons, but one reason, I propose, is the Weed Wrench.
It is more than just the Tool of Choice.
It is the tool we covet; the tool that—thanks to the magic of leverage—offers the most gratification for the least effort;
and the tool that gives us mild-mannered nature-lovers the rare and oh-so-welcome frisson of AUTHORIZED DESTRUCTION.

At a WeedWrangle®, we wield a Weed Wrench as AGENTS OF DEMOLITION,
We bite, rip, and kill any exotic, invasive plant that can fit inside the metal jaws of a Weed Wrench.

And we do this in the service of a higher purpose: to bring back the birds, butterflies, and lightning bugs.

[Common Eastern Firefly / Photinus pyralis on native Prairie tea / Croton monanthogynus]

Yesterday was the official WeedWrangle® day across the state and beyond. “Weed Wrangle® is a one-day, area-wide, volunteer effort to help rescue our public parks and green spaces from non-native invasive species through hands-on removal of especially harmful trees, vines, and flowering plants.”
Basically, we remove invasive plants to make way for native habitat.

But did you know that anyone in Nashville can borrow a Weed Wrench anytime?

This means that in addition to volunteering at local WeedWrangle® projects, we can wield a Weed Wrench at home, in our own yards.

How? A tool share program from Metro Beautification and Environment Commission, Second Harvest Food Bank, and Tractor Supply, lends garden tools: from trowels to wheelbarrows, pruners to post-hole diggers. And WeedWrenches.

What to do:

  1. Fill out the online “Nashville Community Tool Share Program Form,” here.
  1. Wait for an email telling you when to come fetch and when to bring back.

-Get lost on your way to the warehouse, and keep circling unlikely parking lots near the Cumberland River.
Ideally, in a pouring rain.
-Call a random Metro number and beg for directions.
-Find the warehouse, walk inside and wait till the nice people unearth your paperwork, which has been tucked somewhere not immediately apparent.
-Get back in the car and drive to the loading dock.
-Get out of the car and take a long time to load your own tools so you have an excuse to peep inside at the stacks of tools and barricades and barrels and signs and official-whatnots, all sorted in beautifully tidy ranks that make even a Montessori mom sigh with satisfaction. 

That’s what I did, my first time out.

[random view on way to warehouse]

The quicker way is to drive to the long warehouse behind 750 S. 5th Street. The building’s back is against the interstate. The official name is NDOT Warehouse (Nashville Dept. of Transportation, which used to be Metro Public Works).

So there you have it:
how to borrow a WeedWrench any time of year.

The best time is now, before the tick population booms on those invasive weeds.
Remember: part of the reason these plants are so invasive is because predators do not eat them.
Ticks know this, so bush honeysuckle and Chinese privet—safe from deer and bunnies and caterpillars—are tick magnets.
Yet another reason to borrow a Weed Wrench for a spell of AUTHORIZED DESTRUCTION.


• WeedWrangle® website (link). Have an idea about where to organize a public WeedWrangle®? They can help you figure things out, ask the right permissions, find volunteers, and loan you Weed Wrenches.

• What plants are invasive in Tennessee? The Tennessee Invasive Plant Council ( has two lists: one for Natural Areas, and one for Disturbed Areas (like neighborhoods).

TNIPC also has landscaping info about native plant alternatives for common exotic plants (link).

• What plants are illegal to sell or buy in Tennessee? “The Tennessee Department of Agriculture prohibits the propagation and sale of thirteen plant species including the common invasive plants bush honeysuckle and Chinese privet.” (link)

• Want to buy a Weed Wrench or Uprooter? They seem to be made by in the USA, and by the same company (link and link).


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Joanna Brichetto is a naturalist and writer in Nashville, the hackberry-tree capital of the world.
She writes about everyday marvels amid everyday habitat loss at and on Instagram (@Jo_Brichetto); and her essays have appeared in Creative NonfictionBrevity, Fourth Genre, Hippocampus, The Hopper, Flyway, The Common, City Creatures, The Fourth River and other journals. An almanac of urban nature encounters is forthcoming.

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