You don’t have to be a gardener to use gardening tools. Often just general care of landscape requires them. Shrub trimming and shaping, weed pulling, cutting overgrown tree branches and general maintenance often requires a tool or two, even if it is just a shovel or a rake.
Gardening and landscape tools are not cheap. And the more we do to care and maintain them, the longer they last and more efficiently they will perform from season to season and year to year. Of course the best way to keep your gardening tools in tiptop shape is to regularly care for them, not just clean them up once a year.
Always put your tools away clean. This is important because tools that retain moisture can lead to the development of rust. Also, when you have tools and blades that come in contact with various twigs, branches, leaves and dirt, you can easily spread the disease of one plant to another. It is important to not only remove dirt and grit but to kill any bacteria that may have come in contact with your gardening tools.
Here is how I care for my gardening tools and keep them in good condition.
1. I always wipe tools with a dry rag after using them and before putting them away.
2. For deep cleaning I soak the metal end of tools in a tub of hot soapy water. If you don’t have a laundry tub type sink, you can do the same thing with a rubber or plastic tub that holds water.
3. After soaking for 10 or 15 minutes, then I rinse. I make a bleach solution of 3 parts water and 2 parts bleach in a small bucket. I naturally wear protective rubber gloves. I also wear a disposable paper mask to cover my nose and mouth (found at hardware stores). If you have sensitive eyes, wear safety glasses. I take clean terry cloth rags and dip into the bleach solution and wash all surfaces of the gardening tool.
4. I rinse tools under tap water and lay the washed tool on an old beach towel or large piece of cardboard as I proceed to clean the next gardening tool in the bleach solution.
5. With another old, clean and dry towel, I thoroughly dry the washed gardening tools, by hand. I then lay them down on a dry surface such as another old clean towel or clean piece of cardboard.
6. I use WD40 to lubricate all the cleaned metal blades of loppers and heads of other metal gardening tools. Then I wipe clean. I also use 3 in 1 oil after that, and again wipe clean.
7. I condition the wood handles of gardening tools by using a small amount of linseed oil. The linseed oil helps to prevent splintering and rotting of the wood.
8. After all gardening tools have been thoroughly cleaned and dried; I return them to their normal storage. Some tools get hung and other tools I lie flat on a towel on a shelf on a tool storage shed or cabinet.
Depending on what region of the country you live in, you may not need your tools for several months from late fall until early spring. When sprint time comes, your tools will be pristine and ready for performing its intended tasks.
Here are some tips to keep in mind about gardening tools:
You can smooth wood splinters and rough spots with medium-grained sandpaper.
Stiff bristled brushes are good for cleaning dry hard dirt before you proceed to washing or adding moisture.
Some tools may need to be disassembled when cleaned. Reassemble them after cleaning and drying.
Lubricate screws and bolts.
Sharpen gardening tool blades at least once a year.
Use the right tool for a given job, so it can handle the job