Get Your Garden Tools Ready for Spring

During the winter months, garages and garden sheds are often neglected. However, the spring is a great time to clear them out and perform routine maintenance on your gardening tools. Following a seasonal equipment maintenance checklist will not only extend the life of your tools but also increase their productivity.

Though there are many gardening tools and elements that go into a successful garden, check out these tips for specific products to help get your garden tools in the best shape possible to take on the challenges of summer gardening.

Shovels, Spades and Hoes

Begin by cleaning all soil and residue off of the garden tools. A wire brush works well for this task. If you use water to clean them, make sure the gardening tools are dry before you put them away. Once the garden tools are clean, wipe them down with WD-40® and an old rag. If there is rust on any of your metal tools, soak them in white vinegar for several hours to help release the rust. Be sure to check the wooden handles. If the wood has splintered, give the handle a light sanding with sandpaper, then rub the wood with linseed oil.

Pruners and Shears

Pruners and shears will also need an inspection. Spray WD-40 at the joints and check the state of the blade. If the blades are sticky, use alcohol to clean them, but use extreme caution when cleaning the blades. Once the blades are clean, sharpen them with a whetstone or file. To ensure that you do not miss any part of the blade, use a dark marker to color the blade, and sharpen until all the color is gone.

Outdoor Power Equipment

To keep your lawn mower, edger and garden tiller in top condition, a full tune-up should be performed once every year. A well-maintained machine will also reduce emissions and reduce fuel consumption. When tuning up your outdoor power equipment, be sure to clean the body of the machine; change the oil, spark plugs and air filters; lubricate the machine; and sharpen the blades. To make the results of your spring tune-up last, be sure to clean the equipment after every use and continue to keep an eye on bolts or screws that may be loosened by the engine's vibrations.

Flowerpots and Seed Trays

Before you start new seeds and container gardens this spring, it is a good idea to clean your pots and seed trays. Doing so will get rid of last season's diseases and mold. If you did not empty the soil in the fall, begin by emptying the pots of any soil and plant remnants. Next, prepare a solution using nine parts hot water and one part bleach. Use a stiff brush to clean the pots with the solution. If the containers are extremely dirty, consider letting them soak for 20 minutes in the solution. When you are finished scrubbing or soaking, rinse the pots well to remove the bleach.