As the weather cools down and output from the garden slows down, this is a great time to get your garden tools ready for the winter. This way, when spring rolls around next year, you’ll be glad you took a bit of time to clean, sharpen and care for your tools.

Like most tools, we recommend investing in good quality basic tools. Well maintained, they will last for many years and will be a pleasure to use. Poor quality tools end up costing you more in the long run not only in terms of wasted time and money, but also in being less efficient, less durable, and more prone to breaking down.

Here are few things we recommend you do to get your tools ready for another growing season.

1. Clean Off Dirt and Rust From All Tools.
Take your shovels, forks, hard rakes, and other metal tools and using steel wool or a stiff wire brush, take off any caked on dirt, grime and other debris.

If your tools are very dirty or haven’t been cleaned in several years, use a screwdriver, wrench or other suitable tool to take apart the tool and use a rag to wipe away extra dirt and debris making sure to get into all those tight spaces you wouldn’t normally be able to reach.

2. Lubricate and Tighten Moving Joints
For your shears and secateurs, WD-40 can help keep the joints and moving pieces well lubricated. If there is a nut holding the pieces together, check that it is tight (but not too tight that the tool becomes difficult to use). Often when loppers, shears, or secateurs become less effective, it is not because the edge has dulled (though that is often the case), but merely that the nut holding the pieces together has come loose and the blades do not slide cleanly against each other.

3. Sharpen Your Tools
Using a file or sharpening stone, ensure that you have a good, sharp edge on your tools. In addition to your shears/loppers and cutting tools, we suggest that you also sharpen the edges of your shovel, hoe, trowel, and other digging tools.

The goal is to remove small nicks and restore a clean/sharp edge to the tool. Half a dozen to a dozen passes should give you a good edge. It’ll make digging and cutting next year much easier you’ll wonder why you don’t do this every year.

4. Store in a Dry Location
Having a tool rack in the garage or shed where you can hang your tools is a great way to store your tools over the winter. All you need is a some wood (ex. an extra 2×4) you can screw or nail to the wall and some extra nails/screws to hang your tools. This keeps them off the floor away from splashing water, which can prematurely rust and corrode some metal tools.

Tools and Equipment List:

  1. File or sharpening stone
  2. Hose
  3. Wrench
  4. WD-40
  5. Steel wool or stiff wire brush
  6. Rag
Cover Image by jacme31, used under its Creative Commons license.

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