Winterizing Garden Tools in the Fall Means Happy Tools in the Spring!
Once the cooler weather sets in, and thoughts of the upcoming holidays come to mind, that last thing we want to think about is gardening. But trust me, your garden tools will love you if you think ahead and do some things to prepare them for the long, cold months to come. Now is the perfect time to winterize garden tools.
Preparing the tools for winter storage is not a difficult as you might think. Just follow these 14 handy tips to winterize garden tools and they will love you for it in the spring! (Some of the links below are affiliate links.)
1. Cleaning. The most important thing to do, if you do nothing else, is to remove all of the dirt, soil and caked on mud that accumulates on the tools. To do this just use a wire brush, and then rinse and dry thoroughly. Really dirty tools may need to be soaked in warm water first. Once dry, store them inside so they will stay this way. Cleaning them and making sure they are dry will insure that they won’t rust.
2. Rust. Rust happens over time when tools are exposed to moisture. If you do find some rust, remove it first with some fine sand paper. If it really heavy, a wire brush will be needed first. Once the rust is gone, oil them. You can use a special winterizing oil or rub over the tool with a mixture of 2 parts motor oil and 1 part kerosene. You can also rub the wooden parts of tools with a bit of paste wax at the same time, to keep them from splintering.
3. Pruning shears. Anyone who uses them knows how useless they become if they are allowed to get dull. To sharpen pruning shears, you will need an oil stone or a high carbon steel honing tool. Open the shears and place them in a vise and run the stone or honing tool over them in one direction until they are sharp.
4. Garden Gloves. One might not think of these as garden tools, but I go through them in droves, so anything I can do to save a pair work for me. Hose off lightweight garden gloves outside and run them through the washer and dryer. Heavy garden gloves can have the dirt cleaned off before storage with a rough towel.
5. Shovels and Spades. These tools also become dull with use. Sharpen the edges with a file or sharpening stone. Just hold the file or stone at an angle over the beveled edge and push in one direction away from the blade. Turn them over and lightly file the back of the blade on the edge to remove the “burr” that will occur with sharpening.
6. Dried on Sap. Pruning trees can mean that your shears will accumulate the sap from the trees. Remove this with turpentine. An emery board also helps to remove debris from the tight places on pruners.
7. Hand Tools. Clean first, and then store hand trowels and other small tools in a bucket of sand soaked in oil to further deter rust which would otherwise form over the winter.
8. Motorized tools. Lawn mowers and weed trimmers need some special TLC for the winter. Drain the oil before you store them. Oil becomes thick and sludgy when it is stored in the cold and tools won’t run well next spring if you neglect this step. You can drain the oil under the motor and place a pie plate under it to catch the oil. Replace worn part, and fuel filters. Clean spark plugs and replace if needed. sharpen your lawn mower blade and oil it.
9. Gasoline. Avoid storing gasoline over the winter. Old gasoline does not ignite easily, and will make the machines using it work harder. Funnel out the gasoline and use it in your car.
10. Hoses. Drain hoses and if you find any small holes or have leaky attachments, repair them. Store hoses loosely so they won’t kink.
11. Sprayers. All sprayer parts should be thoroughly washed and then rinsed and dried. Most pesticides recommend that you do a triple rinse of sprayers used for them. Apply oil to moving parts. Finally, hang the sprayer upside down when not in use so that it can drain and dry thoroughly.
12. Pots and Soil. Pack up the pots and bags of potting soil and store in your shed. Clean the pots first with a hose and allow to dry.
13. Wheelbarrows. Remove rust from wheelbarrows with a file or sand paper. Oil the handles with a wax paste to keep from splintering and check the nuts and screws and tighten them. Repair any flat tires.
14. Storage. Once you have done all these step, it is important to make sure that the garden tools are stored in a clean, dry place for the winter. Tool caddies, or tall metal containers (like galvanized tubs) are great places to store tools with tall handles. Hooks on the inside walls of your shed will hold smaller tools. Small tools can also be stored in drawers, but make sure they are very dry if you do this so they won’t rust over the winter.
Taking these steps to winterize garden tools can take a few hours if you only have a small number of garden tools, or a few days if you have a larger farm style property. But the rewards of doing so are so many. You will have the satisfaction of seeing them all neatly stored for the winter, as well as the knowledge that, next spring, all of your tools will be in good shape and ready to go. After all…next spring, you will want to be planting, not messing with rusted tools. (or even worse, replacing them!)
Are there any other steps you take to winterize garden tools? Please share your thought in the comments below.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."