Good quality garden tools are made of steel that’s very durable and can handle demanding garden work. Even so, taking good care of your tools will ensure they last as long as possible and work efficiently. If properly cared for, most of your garden tools should easily last you a lifetime.
Cleaning your tools is also important for the health of your garden. Plant diseases, fungi and insect eggs can be spread to other plants via dirty garden tools.
Most of your tools, such as spades and forks, should be rinsed or brushed off after every use. Others, such a pruning shears, might need a bit of extra work with a cloth to get the dirt out of the mechanisms.
Caked on dirt or sap can be removed with dishwashing liquid and a scourer or brush. Any rust can be easily removed with steel wool or a wire brush. To save on water, brush as much dirt off as possible and only rinse with water when absolutely necessary.
If you do rinse your tools, always allow them to dry completely before packing them away or oiling them.
Oiling your tools will help to prevent rust and, in case of shears, will help them operate more efficiently. Motor oil is a particularly effective and inexpensive rust preventer. The oil can be applied in a thin layer over the exposed metal with a cloth after cleaning.
Shears, loppers and pruners need to be sharpened periodically as well. To do so, first disassemble them, clean off any rust or dirt and sharpen the blades using a whetstone and a few drops of oil. Focus on the bevelled side and drag the edge along the whetstone towards you, as if you were trying to shave a thin sliver off the surface.
Some other tools, such as hoes and spades also need a bit of sharpening when they become too dull to work properly. This is best done with a metal file and without oil, which can clog the file’s serrations. Pass the file over the edge you want to sharpen in one stroke, away from your body.
Whenever possible, gardening tools should be stored indoors in a shed or garage. If some of your tools have to stand outside, pick a spot with some cover so they are out of the rain.
Here are our favourite clever ways to store gardening tools:
A storage bench can serve two purposes; extra outdoor seating and a safe place to store your gardening tools. This is especially useful if you don’t have space for a shed. Even better, it’s DIY!
Tool rack (for indoors or outdoors)
With a length of wood and a couple of brackets, you can make this simple gardening tool rack in less than an hour. Find the instructions here.
Potting table or bench
A potting table or bench can double up as storage, especially for things like extra pots, compost and soil.
Garage or shed storage
Utilising the walls of your garage or shed with clever storage ideas is a great way to store your tools so that they are out of the way but also safe and secure.
There are lots of clever and creative ways to store your hosepipe so that it is protected from the sun and doesn’t end up tangled or underfoot.
If you have tools or supplies that you use less frequently and don’t have room for, such as a chainsaw, extra ladders or rolls of shade cloth, it makes sense to store these items offsite in a secure self-storage unit until you next need them.