Plant Lovers’ Almanac: Get garden tools ready for winter storage
Fall is a great time of year to inventory and prepare garden and landscape tools for winter storage. As we approach the end of the backyard garden and home landscape season, caring for seasonal tools is an essential step in preparing them for use during spring cleanup or in next year’s garden.
Here are tips and resources to help you maintain your garden and landscape supplies.
• Clean: While it is recommended that gardening tools should be cleaned throughout the season, it is especially important to clean them before they are put away for the winter. In addition to keeping the tools in proper working order, cleaning will extend the tool’s life. Proper, routine cleaning inhibits rust and stops the spread of soil and plant diseases from season to season.
• Sharpen, repair or replace: Separate current tools and supplies into “sharpen,” “repair” or “replace” piles, and have them serviced accordingly. Completing service tasks now will leave your tools all ready to go when spring arrives.
Fix broken or rough handles on shovels, rakes, hoes and other small hand tools or pruners. Wood handles can be smoothed over with sandpaper and coated for preservation with specially formulated oils.
Sharpen the blades of pruners, grass clippers and hedge clippers. Make sure you follow sound safety practices and choose the most appropriate method for the tool.
Check your tools for normal wear and tear. If an item looks worn out, replace it now with a new one. Keep in mind that here in Ohio, gardening and landscaping supplies can often be found for a reduced cost in the fall since the traditional gardening season has ended.
• Tune up tractors, tillers and small engines: Upon final use, give tune-ups to your tractor, lawn mower, tiller and other small engine equipment before storing for the winter months.
Many small engines require you to drain the gas tank and add a fuel stabilizer, as well as change the oil, grease fittings, clean or change filters, and check or remove the spark plug. Follow your equipment owner’s guide or instruction manual for specific needs or practices. Clean the underside of decks and tines, sharpen blades, and repair or replace nonworking parts or equipment.
• Take inventory: As you organize and prepare to store your equipment and supplies, take an inventory of which tools you have and make notes for any additional supplies or new tools that you will need to purchase before spring.
• Organize and store: Drain hoses, hang, connect together and wind into a loose coil before storing for the winter to prevent damage. Check hose connections and washers and replace as needed.