How Well Do You Know the Basics of Garden Tool Maintenance?

If you plan to garden this spring, your task will be much easier with properly maintained tools—and it will be safer. Also remember that you’re liable for any injury that occurs on your property, so if friends help in your yard, you’re responsible for their safety. No one wants to make an insurance claim, so follow these garden tool maintenance tips and keep your equipment up to par.


Keep them clean.


Clean and sanitize your tools regularly to prevent rust and wash away harmful chemicals. Rub off any dirt or sap with soap, water, and a scrubbing pad. You can also remove rust with a wire brush. For heavy rust, soak tools in vinegar overnight and then scrub.


To sanitize, rub each tool with alcohol wipes or disinfecting spray. This is an important part of garden tool maintenance because it will keep your equipment from transmitting diseases between plants, so do it before pruning.


Finally, rub wooden handles with linseed oil, and oil any moveable parts.


Keep them sharp.


Every gardener knows that a sharp tool is safer and more efficient. So, swipe your equipment at least once a year with a flat file, whetstone, or carbide knife sharpener. Or you could take them to a tool shop or garden center for a quick file. Just make sure they cut easily.


Keep them properly stored.


After cleaning, sanitizing, and sharpening your tools, put them in a safe, dry location that children and pets can’t access. They might come into contact with rain or moisture if you leave them on the ground, and then you’ll have to scrub off even more rust.  


Garden Tool Maintenance Pro Tip: Fill a bucket with sand and lightly dampen it with motor oil. At the end of your gardening day, clean your spades and trowels and stick them in the sand. This will help keep them both rust-free and sharp.