Getting Ready for Fall – Storage Tips for Gardening Tools

The storage of garden tools in an organized and precise fashion not only helps keep them in good working order but also saves you a lot of time in locating them. If you do not currently have a place to store your tools, a tool house 3×6 feet can take care of a great deal of equipment.

Because tools are usually kept in unlit places, and often not wiped off after use, rust is the major enemy. One of the best ways to safeguard against rust is to keep vulnerable tools away from air when they are not in use, by storing the metal ends of the tools in a box of sand installed with crank-case oil. Avoid having so much oil that it makes the tools greasy and hard to deal with, and avoid putting the working parts of the tools, such as the pivot part of a pair of shears, in the sand. The garden hose is often not taken care of properly. Besides using a hose reel, you can reserve the life of your garden hose by not letting it kink while water is running through it. Avoid leaving it in the hot summer sun (especially if it is a plastic hose) and coil the hose loosely on your reel. For optimal care, tools should be cleaned immediately after their use, while any dirt or debris is still moist. Use emery cloth, steel wool or a wire brush to remove rust or cankers. Rub the metal parts with crank-case oil, especially when putting them away for the winter. Keep your wooden handles sanded down and reserve the wood with linseed oil.

Sharpen the upper edge of the shovel only. Start at one side holding an 8 or 10 inch file at a 45-degree angle to the edge of the shovel and pointing towards the middle. Make four or five strokes then move your file in an inch or two towards the center and repeat until you get to the middle of the shovel edge. Once you reach the center, move to the other outside edge and work your way back into the middle of the shovel. Then treat the sharpened edge with oil to prevent rust. Hoes can be sharpened in the same way with an 8-inch mill file, stroking toward the cutting edge on one side only. Do not sharpen your digging tools too keenly for when they are thin they get nick easily. Apply the file to only one side of sickle type tools, with the bottom edge kept flat.

You only need to sharpen one cutting edge of pruners. Quality pruners are normally easy to take apart for cleaning or sharpening. Once they are taken apart the cutting blade can be sharpened using a whetstone or a knife sharpener. After sharpening the blade spread some oil on it to prevent rust before reassembling the pruners. Manual or power sprayers should be triple washed with clean water and washing soda after each use, and the nozzle should be examined to get out particles of grit. Clean the sprayer's rubber hose with vinegar and the shower, and the nozzle with kerosene. On older sprayers, oil the leather plunger washer after use to prevent the leather from drying out.