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Your Garden: TLC for Tools

If you neglected properly cleaning and storing your garden tools last year, it’s not too late. Halt corrosion, dry, splintery handles and dullness by taking a little time to care for these faithful gardening friends.

Remove all soil from metal surfaces: after a stream of water from the hose, remove small soil particles and rust spots with sandpaper, steel wool… whatever is called for. 


Check all nuts, bolts and screws to be sure they are tight and in top working order. Replace worn or rusty ones. 

Sharpen the cutting edges of hoes, shovels, pruners, etc., with a file, stone or grinding wheel.

Wipe all metal parts with an oily rag to help protect from dust and rust and lubricate moving parts.

Wash  and dry wooden handles; use a wire brush and sand well (preventing slivers) before painting with raw linseed oil (or what’s on hand: motor oil, lamp oil or cooking oil).  Let it sit overnight; keep applying until it feels oily then wipe dry. Some prefer treating them with an exterior varnish. Replace weak and broken handles.


Try to store your tools off the floor, preferably on a rack or hanging by nails. You can fill a 5-gallon bucket with sand and oil to dip tools in after each use.

Consider putting an identification mark on all tool handles, brightly colored in case you misplace it in your own garden.

Gather hoses and nozzles for cleaning and repair; don’t forget new washers.

Make sure the lawnmower is tuned up and ready to go. Clean out all matted grass above and below. Remove rotary blades and have them sharpened. If you didn’t do so last fall, drain the oil from the crankcase and refill it immediately. Check the spark plug, cleaning or replacing it as needed. Oil any moving parts and completely wipe the machine down with an oily rag.

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