Neglecting your garden tools is a costly mistake. Proper care of your garden tools will enable them to last for years. Neglect them and you are looking at replacement every two years or so. It only takes a couple of minutes of clean up after every use to keep your tools looking like new.
Get a metal or plastic bucket that is large enough for the blade of your largest shovel to fit into completely. Fill this bucket almost to the top with a mixture of sand and clean motor oil. The sand should be wet but not so wet that oil collects on top of the sand. A lid will keep insects, pets and children out of the sand mix.
After each use, wipe off your garden tools with a rag and remove all dirt with a blast from a garden hose. Wipe the tools dry. Dip them into the sand and motor oil mix a couple of times. This will remove any remaining dirt and it will keep the edges of your tools sharp. A thin coat of oil will remain on the tool’s surface to protect it from rust.
Once a year take the time to go over your garden tools carefully. Repair the handles if necessary. Tighten the handles where they join to the metal part of the tool. Regrip or tape handles to garden shears and pruners. Oil the moving parts of pruners, scissors and shears. Sand all wooden handles smooth and refinish if needed.
This is the time to get shears, scissors and pruners sharpened for next year. Check to see if you have a membership somewhere that gives you free sharpening. For example, members of Ozark Natural Foods in Fayetteville, Arkansas receive 1 free knife or scissor sharpening per year. If you do not have a free service available, you can sharpen the tools yourself with a file.
Check the edges of shovels, spades and hoes for nicks and sharpness. Use a file held at a 45 degree angle to remove nicks and burrs along the edge. The file will restore the sharp edge to the shovel, thus making digging easier. For large dings and dents, gently pound them out with a hammer. Go gently to prevent the metal from stretching or distorting.
Check the rope and handles on pole pruners. Replace the cord if it shows signs of wear.
Never leave your garden tools outdoors or lying on the ground in the garden. First of all, tools scattered about the yard creates a safety hazard. Tools left to fend for themselves against the elements wear out much faster than those that are properly cared for. Rusting of metal parts and rotting of wooden handles will start to occur within a year on tools that are not properly maintained.
Do your tools and your wallet a favor and take care of your garden tools. A little clean up after each use will keep your tools in prime condition for many years. Replacing tools can be expensive. A good spade or garden shovel can cost $40 or more. This adds up if it becomes a yearly expense.
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