If you’re the type who props your garden tools against a tree or leaves them on the porch, you probably need to buy new tools on the regular. Rakes, hoes, sheers and shovels don’t weather very well, even if they are meant to get dirty.
Where you store your tools and how you prepare them for storage matter. Here’s what you need to know to make your garden tools last well past the cold seasons.
Remember to remove rust and show some love to the tool’s handle.
Clean and prep for storage
Before you store your tools, get them clean. Spray each one down with a garden hose to remove dirt and dust. Let them air dry, then take a good look at each one.
If the metal parts are showing signs of rust, you need to take action. Spray the rusty area with WD-40, Blaster, 3-in-1 or another type of penetrating oil, until the rust is well saturated.
Let the tool sit for about 10 minutes, then scrub off the rust using a coarse grit emery sandpaper. Finish by polishing the area with a fine grit emery sandpaper and wiping it down with a rag.
To prevent rust in the future, spray any metal areas with penetrating oil before putting them in storage.
Once you’ve cleaned and contained the rust, prevent wood handles from cracking over the winter. Cracked handles are a great way to get blisters and splinters the next time you garden.
Rub each handle down with a cloth dampened in linseed oil. This moisturizes the wood and also prevents dry rot.
Find the right storage area
Now that your tools are in good shape, you need to find a place to put them so they stay that way.
The best place to store tools is somewhere dry. Your garage, mudroom, storage shed — all good spots. You can just prop most of them in a corner or hang them on hooks.
Shovels need a little extra care when you store them. They tend to become dull when stored with the blade on the ground — and a dull shovel makes digging much harder. Either hang it up or prop it up with the handle on the ground.
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