Caring for the tools that help you through the gardening season is important to ensure they last season after season. Here's how to keep everything in tip-top condition.
Sticky residues often build up on pruners, shears, loppers and pruning saws. Use a rag dipped in paint thinner to remove the sap and pitch from the blades of these tools. Then, sharpen the blades with a file or wet stone before protecting them from rusting with a spray or wipe of WD-40 oil.
Wash trowels, cultivators and other hand tools with soapy water to remove dirt, scrubbing them with a stiff-bristled brush or steel wool to dislodge crusty chunks. Inspect the handles of your tools and re-glue any that have come loose. To prevent them from drying and splitting, give wooden handles a swipe with a rag moistened with linseed oil, removing the excess oil with a clean cloth. Tools with painted handles can be touched up if necessary, or coated with brightly coloured paint that's easy to spot in the garden.
Hoses and sprinklers
To guard against splitting and cracking, drain all hoses before storing them coiled on a flat surface – hoses hung on nails might cause the hose to crack where it bends. Drain and turn off outside taps to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting.
Clean large tools such as shovels, rakes, hoes and edgers with soapy water, removing crusted soil with a wire brush or steel wool. Sharpen the blades of digging tools – they'll perform much better with sharp edges. Wipe or spray metal parts with WD-40 to prevent rusting. Rub linseed oil into wooden handles to prevent drying and splitting, finishing with a swipe of a dry cloth to remove excess oil that makes the handle sticky to the touch.
After carefully preparing your tools for another season, store them in a dry place away from rain and snow. Hang tools with handles such as spades, rakes and hoes on the walls of your garage or garden shed where they're out of the way, yet easily accessible when you're ready to use them in the spring. Place hand tools together in a basket or bucket where they won't go astray. Then, hang up your hat, take off your gloves and hope for an early spring.