Garden Tools Maintenance Checklist

After a blissful and tiring day working in the garden, you may be tempted to simply toss your tools in the garage or even leave them outside to weather and wear. Stop! Your garden tools work as hard as you do to keep your lawn and garden looking their best. The least you can do is repay them with a little TLC. Here’s a garden tools maintenance checklist that will keep you, your tools, and your garden happy.

Everyday Maintenance

  • Use a garden trowel to loosen caked-on dirt and give them a spray with the hose.
  • Keep your loppers, shears, and pruners sharp and at the ready. At the end of each use, wipe them down with a dry rag, then give them a spray of penetrating oil like WD-40.
  • Fill a five-gallon bucket with sand, followed by a quart of vegetable oil. When you are finished in the garden, plunge your clean shovels and hoes into the sand several times. You can even store your shovels right in the oily sand.
  • Do not leave them out in the sun and rain. They will deteriorate very quickly.

Springtime Maintenance

  • Sharp tools make all the difference. Here’s what you’ll need to keep them cutting.
    • . Use these first to remove stubborn dirt and rust.
    • . Drip a few drops of oil onto the stone and with a curved motion, rub the sharp edge of the cutting blade against the stone.
    • . These are called bastard files and come in many sizes. Start with medium grit and move onto fine grit as the sharpening progresses. Secure your tool in a vise for safety. Push the file across the blade and away from your body at a 45 degree angle.
  • Use these first to remove stubborn dirt and rust.
  • Drip a few drops of oil onto the stone and with a curved motion, rub the sharp edge of the cutting blade against the stone.
  • These are called bastard files and come in many sizes. Start with medium grit and move onto fine grit as the sharpening progresses. Secure your tool in a vise for safety. Push the file across the blade and away from your body at a 45 degree angle.
  • Once your tools are sharp and at the ready, give them a spray with vegetable oil.
    • . Use the manufacturer’s guidelines for instructions specific to your mower.
    • . Remove the blade and sharpen as detailed for shovels and hoes above. Before you reattach the blade to your mower, check the balance to make sure both sides are weighted equally.
    • . Be sure to use ethanol-free gas to extend the life of your mower.
  • Use the manufacturer’s guidelines for instructions specific to your mower.
  • Remove the blade and sharpen as detailed for shovels and hoes above. Before you reattach the blade to your mower, check the balance to make sure both sides are weighted equally.
  • Be sure to use ethanol-free gas to extend the life of your mower.

Fall maintenance

  • If cared for properly, your garden tools will last a lifetime, but it’s still wise to check your tools at the end of the season to see if any need replacing.
  • First sand your handles with medium-grit sandpaper to get rid of splinters. Then, coat liberally with linseed oil to preserve the wood throughout the winter.
  • If you live in an area that sees freezing temperatures, you must drain your hoses before the cold weather sets in. Store them in the garage for the winter to help prolong their life.
  • Gasoline does not overwinter well. Either use your mower for mulching fall leaves, or run it dry before storing it for the winter.

Expert Garden Tool Maintenance Tips

  •  Do not use motor oil on your garden tools. Many guides and websites suggest pouring motor oil over your bucket full of sand to keep tools rust free. Motor oil on your tools means motor oil on the food you grow.
  •  If you need to replace tools, wait until late fall or winter, when garden centers have end-of-the-year sales.
  • Ask a Master Gardener. Many communities throughout the United States have volunteer Master Gardeners that are available to answer all of your gardening questions.