How To Care For Garden Tools

Whether you've got a small container garden on the patio or a large plot filling half your back yard, every gardening chore is easier with the right tools at hand. Collecting all the garden tools you need can be an expensive proposition, but if you care for them the right way they can serve you in your garden for many years. Buy good-quality tools and care for them year-round and you may pass your old hoes and trowels down to the next generation.

Long Handled Tools

Rakes, shovels and other tools with long handles can be awkward to store, falling on the ground or in the gardening shed and posing a danger to anyone who unwittingly may step on them. Create safe and secure storage for long-handled tools by cutting the bottom from metal coffee cans. Nail the cans to a fence post, garage wall or the door of the garden shed. Slip the handle of a tool through the can sleeve and the business end of the tool will rest on top, easily spotted but safely out of the way.

Smaller Hand Tools

Old-time gardeners had the right idea. Find an old basket and use it as a storage container for all your smaller hand tools. The spaces in between the weaving in the basket will allow stray stones and dirt to fall through, leaving the interior a cleaner space. You will always know where your tools are stored, so they will not be in danger of being left out in inclement weather and getting rusted and ruined.

Dull Blades

When your hand trowels, shovels and hoes get dull and you have a hard time cutting through tough weeds with them, sharpen them up to return them to their former edge. Use a knife sharpening stone to hone the edge just as you would a kitchen knife. Draw the stone in one direction down one side of the edge, then do the same thing in one direction on the other side of the edge.

Winter Storage

Winter time can be tough on tools with the temperature changes and ambient moisture in the air. Prepare your tools for winter and they'll come out looking good as new in the spring. Fill a bucket or two with builders sand or playground sand. Use enough buckets to allow all your tools' metal surfaces to be buried in the sand. Mix together enough WD-40 lubricating oil or plain vegetable oil until all the sand is moist with the oil. Use a putty knife and steel wool scrubbing pad to remove all the dirt and mud from all the tool surfaces. Plunge all the metal parts of your tools into the oily sand and bury them up to the hilt. Rub the wooden handles of the tools with linseed oil to keep them from cracking. Store the buckets in a cool, dry spot such as a garage or enclosed shed. When spring comes around, pull the tools from the oily sand and wipe them down with a burlap bag to remove the sand and excess oil from the metal surfaces.