Whether you're at the beginning of garden season or near the end, you can always count on one thing: dirty tools. Here are some tips for keeping the tools you rely on each season in good condition for years to come.
Hose 'em down
The easiest way to clean your gardening tools is to hose them down after each use, especially if they are covered in dust, mud or chemical residue. Depending upon how caked on the mud is, you might need a scraper. After you have finished hosing off the tools, make sure you give them ample time to dry. Don't put them away wet. This could lead to rust and rot.
Stick 'em in sand
If hosing doesn't remove all of the dirt, sand will. Find a large bucket and fill it with dry sand. Then mix in some motor oil or vegetable oil until the sand is moist. Plunge your tools up and down in the sand to remove any remaining residue. Then wipe them off with a coarse cloth. If the season is over, you can leave your tools in the sand over the winter and give it plenty of time to work.
Coat 'em with oil
Metal and wood require additional care. After cleaning metal tools, coat them lightly with a spray oil or an oily rag. This will help prevent rust and keep them in good working condition. If you have any tools with wooden handles, sand and wipe down the wood with linseed oil once a season to prevent it from drying out and rotting.
Keep 'em sharp
Take time out to sharpen cutting tools, spades, shovels and trowels. Use a hone or whetstone for cutting tools and a file for spades, shovels and trowels.
You can do much of the maintenance and cleaning of gardening tools yourself. On occasion, however, you might want to enlist the help of a professional with tasks such as sharpening or removing rust from a beloved tool.
Even with the best of care, some of your gardening tools may not hold up. Usually this is due to inferior quality. Garden tools are like anything else. You get what you pay for, so buy the best you can afford and take the time to care for it.