Make sure to properly care for your tools for winter so that they’ll be in good shape in the spring. Clean hand tools, shovels, rakes, and hoes before putting them in storage; it’s easier to do the job now than wait until spring when the rust and hardened soil are harder to remove.
- Wash or wipe off excess soil; use a narrow putty knife to remove hardened soil. Or soak soil-encrusted tools in water and scrub with a wire brush.
- Remove rust with a coarse grade of steel wool or medium-grit sand paper. Add a few drops of oil to each side of the tool surface, and use a small cloth to spread it over the metal. This will help protect the surface against rust.
- Sharpen the soil-cutting edges of shovels, hoes, and trowels to make digging easier.
- Check the handles for splinters and rough spots. Use sandpaper on rough, wooden-handled tools; coat with linseed oil.
- Make sure the handles are tightly fastened to the shovel, hoe, or rake. You may need to replace or reinstall missing pins, screws, and nails.
As you’re working to properly store your tools for winter, take a moment to locate, organize, and safely store fertilizers and pesticides.
- Always leave pesticides in their original containers. It is illegal — and unwise — to transfer them to a different container.
- Pesticides should be stored in a locked area, away from pets and children.
- Store granular formulations in cool, dry locations.
- Liquids should be kept out of direct sunlight and freezing temperatures. Freezing and UV can diminish the effectiveness of some products.
Finally, you should store your lawn mower properly so it, too, will be ready to go in the spring.
- Empty the gas tank, or fill it with a gas preservative. The gas can be emptied by running the motor until it eventually runs out of gas. If you’re adding a gas preservative, run the motor for a few minutes to mix the preservative and gas together.
- Disengage the spark plug wire for safety.
- Drain and replace the oil. This should be done at least once a year; check your owner’s manual for specific instructions.
- Clean off any dirt and matted grass.
- Sharpen the blades or make a note to do so first thing in the spring before mowing season begins.
- Buy replacement belts, spark plugs, and air filter as needed and store them until spring.
By caring for your tools and supplies properly each year, you’ll save a lot of money and will be ready to “hit the ground running” each spring.
Written by Vicki