Caring for Your Garden Tools

It’s about time to get outside and start working in the garden! As we dig out our weather-beaten garden tools, it becomes obvious that we may not have taken very good care while putting them away last fall.  There may be some old mud chunks left on a shovel, or maybe our pruners just don’t close as freely as they used too.  Taking proper care of your garden tools will reduce the time and frustration you put into your growing area.

Clean Your Tools

First, clean off any dirt, crud, muck, limbs or whatever else is hanging off of your tools.  Removing debris from your tools will make them lighter, more efficient, and you will look a lot cooler when working in the garden this spring.  Simply spray, wipe, and / or wash off your tools until they are clean.  While doing this, check to make sure all of the nuts and screws are tight.


The Sand Bucket Method

One of my favorite tricks to cleaning off metal tools is to the sand bucket method.  Tools like shovels, potato rakes, and hoes can be cleaned using this method to keep them nice and shiny while also preventing rust.

To use the sand bucket method, you will only need a small bucket (5 gallons or less), sand, and a small amount of motor oil.  Simply fill your bucket most of the way to the top with sand.  Then, add about a tablespoon of motor oil to the bucket.  After you have prepared your sand bucket, just place the heads of the tools into the sand.  Clean by moving your tool up and down repeatedly in the sand mixture.  The sand will cause enough friction to clean while the oil lubricates, shines, and protects the metal heads of your tools.

Use WD-40 or any other lubricating spray on the joints and elbows of your tools.  This is especially important for pruners, clippers or other tools that have small parts to add leverage to your work.


Finally, use a sharpener to sharpen any edges you have on your tools.  Sharpening edges on shovels, trowels, pruners, axes, and even rakes will make your work go much faster.  In fact, it was Abraham Lincoln who said: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”  Take the lesson from Abraham Lincoln and prepare your tools as much as you can before going to work.

Do you have any other suggestions or tips on how to properly prepare your tools?  Excited about using them this upcoming season?  Leave us a comment and let us know how you prepare!


Photos: Jennifer C., Unsplash


PrintBy Jake Frazier

Jake Frazier is an outdoor enthusiast and the owner of Residential Ecology, a sustainable ecological resource management company. He uses existing natural systems to improve the quality of life for both humans and the Earth. Jake is interested in permaculture, living systems and exploring. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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