When cold weather is coming and your garden is winding down, a very good question arises: What will become of all your garden tools in winter? Good tools aren’t cheap, but if you treat them well they’ll last you for years. Keep reading to learn about winter garden tool maintenance and how to clean garden tools for winter.
How to Clean Garden Tools for Winter
A good first step in preparing garden tools for winter is to thoroughly clean all your tools. Use a coarse metal brush, like one used for cleaning grills, to scrape dirt off of the metal parts of your tools. Follow up with a dry rag and, if necessary, a damp rag. Rub any rust away with a piece of sandpaper. Once your tool is clean, wipe it down with an oiled rag. Motor oil is fine, but vegetable oil is just as effective and less toxic. Remove any splinters from your wooden handles with a piece of sandpaper, and then wipe the whole handle down with linseed oil. Garden tool storage is important for your tools’ longevity, too. Store your tools on a rack to keep them from falling over, or worse, falling on you. Make sure your wooden handles aren't resting against soil or cement, as this can lead to rot.
Preparing Additional Garden Tools for Winter
Winter garden tool maintenance doesn’t stop with shovels and hoes. Disconnect all hoses and sprinkler systems; if left outside over the winter they’re likely to burst. Drain them of water, patch any holes, and loop them up neatly to avoid kinks that may wear into holes over the winter. Run your lawn mower until its fuel runs out; leaving fuel to sit over the winter can degrade plastic and rubber parts and rust metal ones. Remove the blades and sharpen and oil them. Scrape or rinse away all built up grass and dirt. Disconnect its battery and spark plugs to keep it from accidentally starting over the winter.
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The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.