Every gardener, and even those that do not consider themselves gardeners, have a garage full of tools. Depending on your organizational habits, these tools can be found neatly organized or strung about.
Whether you are orderly or haphazard with garden tool storage, there are a few practices that will help prolong their life. Tools are an expensive investment, and the few minutes it takes to clean and repair them will help to extend their life.
We’ve got some cleaning and storage tips for you – a great winter project!
For hand tools (trowels, rakes, shovels, hoes, etc.):
– Use soap and water to remove residual dirt and dried-on materials from gardening tool surfaces. Scrape off stubborn clumps with a putty knife or a wire brush. The steel brushes made for cleaning grills work great for this because they usually have bristles on one side and a scraping tool on the other.
-If surfaces are showing signs of rust, try loosening the specks with steel wool and then rubbing with a dry cloth. In addition to cleaning the metal surfaces, the wooden handles of the gardening tools should be cleaned and prepared.
-Handles that are broken or split should be replaced, as they are an accident waiting to happen. Handles that have become rough over the season can be sanded and sealed. Once sanded smooth, wipe them down with wood oil. In some cases, they can also be painted. Some gardeners paint the handles of shovels, rakes, and hoes with a bright color so they are easy to see lying around in the garden.
-After the garden gets one last, long drink, remove nozzles and drain and hang your hoses and irrigation equipment away from freezing temperatures.
-Lubricate all tool pivoting points and springs and pay special attention to wheels, axels, and moving assemblies. Paint exposed metal surfaces or rub them with a sock dipped in motor oil. A spray-on lubricant like WD-40 also works well for this.
-Sharp blades make cleaner cuts, which when dividing plants means quicker healing and less likelihood for disease. Following the existing angles of the blades, use a whetstone or file to sharpen dull blades on trowels, hoes and shovels. For safety, tools with sharp blades or tines should be stored upright and off the floor using hooks or nails or wooden pallets.
Mowers and Trimmers:
-Grass is acidic and can cause a chemical reaction that leads to rust during prolonged contact with metal. Scrape off the undercarriages of lawnmowers and weed whackers with a putty knife.
-Gasoline should not be held over from one season to the next. Old gasoline can gum up parts and slow down ignition. Use an old turkey baster for the sole purpose of siphoning out leftover fuel from gasoline powered equipment like lawn mowers, weed whackers and tillers.
-If you can time it right, you can also run equipment until it’s out of gas. This is also a good time to check and replace sparkplugs, examine electrical cords and remove and store batteries for winter. Remove (and recycle) used motor oil and replace or clean dirty air filters. Check your owner’s manual for any other storage or lubrication requirements. Have your lawn mower blades professionally sharpened now to avoid the spring rush.
-Empty chemical sprayers and properly dispose of leftover contents according to package guidelines. Sprayers should be flushed at least three times with soap and water before storing for winter.
-Dry chemicals need to be kept dry throughout the winter and liquid chemicals should to be kept from freezing. Store them in plastic bins or garbage bags away from humidity and keep them up off the floor on wooden pallets and away from children and pets.
Organize Manuals & Other Important Data
-Keep chemical application instructions and growing information organized in a 3-ring binder or photo box so they are easy to access. Create a separate section for manuals, fertilizer rates, planting notes, and photos tracking your garden’s progress from year to year.
We help some of these tips will help you keep your outdoor equipment clean, organized, and in tip top shape for years to come!