Garden tools can be expensive
. But choose good ones and with care, they’ll last a lifetime. Like a favorite pair of shoes, your old reliable spade or pruning shears can give you an edge of comfort and familiarity, making even the toughest gardening
chores seem a little easier.
However, if you don’t clean and take care of that spade or those shears at the end of the season
and they spend the winter in a damp basement, you’ll shorten their life and effectiveness. Actually, you should clean your tools after each use. But who has time for that? If you’re a procrastinator, at least take the time to give all of your hand tools an in-depth cleaning before you put them away for the winter.
Start by washing and drying the tool thoroughly. Make sure to get all of the dirt and sap off. Then remove any rust with a wire brush. Emery cloth is great if you’re working on small tools like shears.
No more rust
Once the blades are sharp and ready for next spring, you need to keep metal parts from rusting. Wipe all of the metal down with a paper towel or rag soaked with a petroleum-based lubricant, such as 3-IN-ONE® oil. Rub the oil in well, making sure you get it into all of the nooks and crannies. Wipe off the excess when you’re done.
If you left a tool out in the rain last summer, you know how the wooden handles can get rough. Now’s the time to sand them smooth again. Then dip a rag in boiled linseed oil and rub it over the handles to seal the wood.
You’re almost finished. Hang the tools if you can — they’re less likely to rust if the air circulates around them. Can’t hang them up? At least stand the tool on its handle, not on the blade. And store shears indoors. They’ll stay dry and you can find them quickly next spring to snip a few branches of pussy willow or forsythia as they come into bloom.