Gardens don’t maintain themselves—which means if you want to harvest your own veggies or keep those hedges in check without putting someone on the payroll, you’ll need to roll up your sleeves, grab your garden tools, and get to work. If it’s been a while since you poked around in your yard, you may need to learn how to clean garden tools. Why? Because odds are, they’re seriously gunky, and this can undermine how effective they are.
“As the spring and summer rolls around, it’s important to give your garden tools some attention,” says Barry Troutman, technical adviser to the National Association of Landscape Professionals. “Most homeowners don’t realize how impactful a sharp, clean garden tool is when compared to dull, rusted equipment that isn’t properly prepped for the season.”
Benefits abound: Sharp, clean tools will last longer; make cutting, hoeing, and digging easier; and help prevent the spread of plant disease. So if you care about your yard, get your gardening tools in good shape with these steps.
How to clean shears and pruners
These tools—designed to cut roses off canes, branches off trees, and dead blooms off stems—can expose your plants to disease if they’re dirty, so it’s particularly important to keep them clean.
Here’s how: After wiping and scrubbing off the dirt, fill a bucket with a 1:10 solution of bleach to water, which will disinfect the tools. Wash the tool in the solution, and then dry. Last, spread a coat of WD-40 oil on the blades and the open/close mechanism, then wipe off excess oil, leaving a thin coat. This helps prevent rusting and keeps the blades sharp.
How to clean shovels and spades
To clean shovels and spades, knock off any obvious dirt and debris and scrub stubborn areas with a wire brush. Rinse with a garden hose, and wipe the handle with a clean cloth. If you want to get fancy, fill a 5-gallon bucket with sand mixed with about 1 quart of motor oil. After cleaning, dig your shovel and spade in the sand, which will help sharpen and oil the blade, which will help prevent rust.
The handle, often ignored, could stand for some TLC, too. Wipe it with car or floor wax to keep the wood from cracking (and splinters out of your fingers).
How to clean rakes and hoes
A good garden rake makes yard care so much easier, gathering leaves and debris and also breaking and smoothing soil—a prelude to planting. To clean rakes, remove dirt clots from tines and wipe with a clean cloth. If your rake has a wood handle, sand smooth then seal with a coat of polyurethane or varnish.
Hoes—which are ideal for creating furrows for planting seeds or seedlings—have a sharp edge which should be filed to ensure that it stays that way. You can use a handheld mill file or a honing stone, which is easy to use and costs about $8. To sharpen tools with a stone, slide the blade in one direction over the surface.
Additional garden tool maintenance tips
- Paint the handles of hand tools fire-engine red, which will make it harder to lose them in the garden.
- If your tools don’t already have a hole in the handle, drill one so you can hang them, which will help them dry and prevent rust.
- If pruners or saws become covered with tree sap, pour a little paint thinner on a rag and wipe clean.
- Recycle old and drained oil from lawn mowers to coat tools.
The post How to Clean Garden Tools (and Why They Need It So Bad) appeared first on Real Estate News & Advice | realtor.com®.
Author: Lisa Kaplan Gordon
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