Having sharp tools will make you a better gardener. Not only will you be able to work faster, you’ll stay safer, reduce the chance of plant disease, and have healthier plants overall. In this week’s tip, we’ll outline how we keep our tools properly sharpened throughout the season as well as going over sharpening tips many casual gardeners overlook.
Before we get into practical tips, we want to clarify the difference between sharpening and honing. While these processes are both involved in getting your tools sharp, there are differences between the two. Sharpening is the process of taking material away from your blade, such as grinding it against a stone to form the sharp edge. Honing is the process of refining the cutting edge of the blade, preparing and maintaining the already sharpened edge. For most of your tools, honing is what you’ll be doing, though you may want to use a file to sharpen some of your other tools as well.
Hand pruners, are one of our most used tools. Whether it is for pruning, harvesting, cutting twine, or any other task we use it for, we want to ensure a sharp edge. For that reason, we keep a sharpening tool with us to keep our blades in tip top shape. This can be as often as once on a weekly basis depending on usage.
Beyond hand pruners, having a sharp shovel and hoe has made a big difference in our productivity in the gardens. When it comes to cutting through tree roots, heavy clay, a thick mat of grass, or other tough objects, having a sharp edge can make quick work of these types of projects. With any sharp tools, be careful if working around wooden structures as the sharp blade can damage the wood. Rocks, gravel, and other objects can also quickly dull the blade, so check the blade to ensure you can stay productive
Finally, the garden hoe is one of the most overlooked tools for the home gardener because many of the hoes we have come across just aren’t very sharp. When it comes to weeding, a sharp hoe is a completely different experience compared to a dull one. For all garden tools, you can take them to a professional to sharpen them, though we find sharpening them ourselves with a file or angle grinder works just fine, and allows us to stay productive without worrying about downtime while they are getting sharpened or out of use.
The end of the gardening season is a great time to check your tools, sharpen/hone them as necessary, and clean them so that when spring comes again next year, you’ll be ready to go and to work with the sharp, safe tools.