Spring is here and it’s time to bring your garden back to life again. But first, you’ll need to make sure your gardening equipment is up to scratch.
After a long winter, your garden tools are probably in need of some TLC. Here, we’re going to give you some top tips on sprucing up everything, from your spades to your trowels, to get you prepared for anything your post-winter garden throws at you!
1. Blast away the soil
Use a garden hose to remove any leftover soil and debris from your tools. You can scrape away any stubborn dirt or stuck-on mud with a putty knife or plastic scraper.
2. Soak in soapy water
After removing what you can, get rid of any further debris by soaking your tools in warm soapy water. Fill a bucket and add about half a teaspoon of washing up liquid per gallon of water. Then, soak them for around 15-20 minutes.
3. Rinse and dry
Give each tool a rinse in cool water and dry them off using a microfibre cloth or towel.
4. Remove rust
If you find your tools are a little rusty, use a stiff wire brush or steel wool to scrub away rust spots. Lightly coat the tool with vegetable oil to loosen the rust while you scrub.
5. Remove gooey sap
If your tools feel slightly sticky, it could be due to plant sap or insect residue. All you need to do is dip an old cloth in a bit of turpentine or lighter fluid. Wipe down the tool, paying close attention to hinged areas, and this should get rid of it.
Before using or storing tools away, you’ll want to make sure to get rid of any bacteria or fungi. Mix a solution of two cups of chlorine bleach and one gallon of water in a bucket. Submerge the tools and let them soak for 10 minutes. Then, rinse well and dry completely.
Gardening tools such as shovels, hoes, snips and pruners will need to be sharpened occasionally, especially after a long winter. Large blades and edges can be sharpened with a 10-inch flat mill file, and smaller, finer edges can be sharpened with a whetstone.
Begin by wiping down the blades with WD-40. Then, file the edges at a 20 to 45-degree angle following the original bevel. Finish by wiping down with a soft cloth to remove any metal shavings.
8. Apply oil to moving parts
If your tools with moving parts (such as snips, shears, or pruners) are a little stiff, they may just need some oil. Simply place a drop or two of machine oil onto the hinged parts and they will loosen up in no time.
9. Care for wooden handles
If your tools have wooden handles and the wood has begun to dry out, split or loosen from the metal, you can restore them by sanding them down. Use medium-grit sandpaper to remove rough spots and rub them with linseed oil. If they can’t be saved, most wooden handles can be replaced.
10. Storing your tools
Finally, you’ll want to make sure your tools are stored properly to prevent them from becoming damaged by the elements. Be sure not to leave tools lying around outside in the garden. Instead, fill a large flower pot or bucket with sand, add one cup of vegetable oil and mix it well. Insert the metal ends of your small trowels and hand tools into the sand to keep them clean and rust-free.
Keep shovels, trowels and shears in your storage area and, if possible, hang larger tools from hooks or a pegboard to prevent warping of the handles and to keep metal components dry and off the floor.
So there you have it – our tips on getting your tools prepped and ready to kick start your spring gardening. Now that your tools are up to scratch, here are 10 gardening tasks to get you started!