After a long day out in the yard and landscape, you might be tempted to simply toss your garden tools into the shed. But proper maintenance prevents future problems. Here are garden tool care tips to help you take care of and store your shovels, rakes, trowels, and more.
In the spring, tune your lawn mower engine by replacing the spark plug and oil; clean the filter. You should also replace the lawn mower blade or have it sharpened.
Spring is the time to take a look at all your pruning tools to see if you practiced good garden tool care. Did each one receive a good cleaning at the end of the previous year's gardening season? If not, clean and oil all pruning tools, and sharpen the blades if needed.
Your pruning tools need regular sharpening based on how often you use them. Start your garden tool care by cleaning the tool; open it wide or remove the blade. Clamp it in a vise. Next, to sharpen your pruning tools, soak a medium-grain whetstone or medium flat file in water or light oil. Lightly move the stone along the edge of the blade from base to tip. Repeat until the edge is sharp, taking care to not file it too thin. (The edge will nick too easily if it's too thin.) To finish sharpening your pruning tools, use a fine-grain whetstone or file. Remove burrs on the back of the blade. Wipe the blade with an oily rag or spray with an antirust lubricant.
Care for Your Pruning Shears
-Here's how to give your pruning shears a quick tune up before you store them at the end of the gardening season. First, sharpen the blade. We use the sharpening tool designed specifically for pruning shears with smooth motion. Sharpen each blade along the factory cut [unk]. Follow the operating instructions for whatever sharpening device you use. Next check the pivot nut to make sure the blades are operating efficiently. With a wrench, tighten the nut until the blades become difficult to open and close. Then loosen just enough so the blades move freely. Check to see if the blades cut cleanly and adjust again if necessary. Finally, wife down the blade and hinge with rag dipped in oil. This will protect the shears against rust and keep the blades moving freely. You can use motor oil, gun oil or lubricant oil made for use on metal tools.
As spring transitions into summer, put away some garden tools and helpers, including cold frames. However, take time to clean out the cold frame and repair it before storing so it will be ready to use for fall seeding of vegetables.
After each use but before putting away cultivators, shovels, and rakes, remove all dirt and debris for the best garden tool care. Scrape off dirt with a putty knife; remove rust and mud with a wire brush. Do this after each use: Those few minutes scrubbing and scraping will save you time -- and money -- in the long run. Each time you use pruning tools, wipe them with an oiled rag.
Once the gardening season winds down, you'll have to complete a few autumn garden tool care to-dos. That includes dipping blades of shovels, hoes, and trowels into a bucket of sand mixed with a little lightweight machine oil.
In autumn, your gas-powered tools, including lawn mowers, need their own garden tool care. To winterize gasoline engines, run them until they are empty, or fill the tank with gas and add fuel stabilizer. Remove spark plugs, pour a teaspoon of oil into the cylinder, turn the engine over several times, and replace the spark plugs.
Storage is part of good garden tool care. Hang long-handle tools on wall organizers or hooks to keep the tools from colliding or becoming entangled. Store small tools such as pruners or scissors in a walletlike organizer.
Coil up your garden hoses on a hanger after each use. At growing season's end, drain your garden hoses, connect the ends, and store indoors away from the elements for a final step in garden tool care.