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How to Maintain and Care for Your Gardening Tools

When you are purchasing new gardening tools, you will more than likely have a choice of low price/low quality or higher priced/high quality tools. Quality tools are designed to last many years, but they must be cared for and regularly maintained.

If you opt for bargain priced tools, maintaining them is less of a problem because when they wear out you can simply throw them away. Regardless of the quality, maintaining your garden tools on a regular basis will help to assure that they will be ready to go to work on your next garden chore. Following a few basic rules will add many years of life and use to all of the tools which were designed to make your gardening tasks easier.

  • Always remove all of the soil from your digging tools after each use. Usually hosing is all it takes, but use a screwdriver to remove caked or dried mud.
  • Never put your tools away wet. Allow them to dry completely before storing to prevent rusting and handle rot. Once each garden season, rub linseed oil into your wooden handles to help preserve them.
  • After each use wipe the metal parts of pruners, shears, and loppers with an oily rag. Alternately, you can wipe your tools dry with a clean rag, and then spray lightly with a penetrating oil such as WD40 ®
  • Sharpen your cutting tools as well as the blades of shovels and spades during the gardening season. A hone or whetstone should be used for sharpening cutting tools. A file should be used to remove nicks and smooth the edge of your shovels and trowels.
  • Thoroughly clean any tools which have been used for chemical applications. Fertilizers and other chemicals will rapidly corrode any metal parts.
  • For extra rust prevention, fill a 5 gallon bucket with builders sand and pour a quart of new motor oil over it. Use this as a shovel cleaner/oiler each time you put your tools away. Plunge each tool in and out the oily sand several times after use. You can also use this bucket as a shovel stand.

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