Cleaning your garden tools regularly after use is ideal, but at the least they should be cleaned before putting them away for winter. Clean tools last longer and work more effectively, making for easier use. Keeping blades sharp improves cutting, which is easier on you and your plants. Keeping tools used in soil cleaned keeps their edges sharper too - preventing rust from forming - and removes possible disease-laden soil particles. It's one important step you should never forget in the fall!
These handheld cutting tools aren’t too tricky to keep in tip top shape. The most important thing is to clean your pruners often — both handheld pruners and loppers. Follow these rules to keep your pruners at their best!
Clean blades. Wipe down pruners with a dry rag after each use. The ideal wipe down pairs a squirt of lubricating oil (like WD-40 or similar) with a swipe using a cotton rag. Put blades away clean and dry. If a pruning job leaves sap on the blades, WD-40 will remove it.
Sharpen regularly. Keep cutting tools sharp. Use a sharpening stone or specialized pruner sharpening kit, both of which are very easy to use. Always sharpen the bevel-edged blade, passing the sharpening surface over the blade in one direction only. Typically you should only need to pass the sharpener over the blade up to six times. A perfectly sharp edge slices cleanly through a sheet of paper without crimping or folding it.
Oil joints. Apply lubricating or penetrating oil to joints — before they get stiff.
Store open. Pruning tools with springs are best stored open to keep tension off the springs. This makes the spring last longest.
Sterilize as needed. Use rubbing alcohol or a Lysol-type disinfecting product to sterilize blades. Avoid using bleach, which can corrode the metal.
A chainsaw’s regular upkeep can be demanding, and this is one tool that’s unforgiving if managed improperly. Safety is foremost with chainsaw use, and keeping it in good working order is vital. Typical chainsaw maintenance includes a variety of tasks. Above all, consult your owner’s manual and follow the prescribed maintenance schedule.
Check chain tension. Before each use, make sure the chain tension is in line with the specs for your chainsaw.
Clean the air filter. Check the air filter after every eight hours of use. Clean it with a soft bristle brush or a wash in soapy water followed by air drying. Do not use an air compressor to blow out dirt. It can blast holes in the filter, which allows dirt and woody debris into the carburetor.
Use the proper fuel. Fill the tank with the fuel mixture prescribed by your owner’s manual. Take care to use the right type of oil at the right ratio. Always shake your fuel-oil mix before adding it to the tank because it tends to separate.
Choose the right oil. The chain oil tank requires a specific type of oil. Make sure you have the right type and that you keep the tank filled.
Keep the chain sharp. Refer to your owner’s manual to learn the right way to sharpen the chain. You might be able to do it yourself, or you may need a professional to tackle it.
Take these steps to help lengthen the lifespan of your favorite garden hose.
Put it away. Store the hose after each use. This protects the hose from accidents, like getting run over by a lawnmower or car.
Store properly. Always coil the hose to prevent kinks. You can invest in a hose reel for a quick wind up, or use an informal storage option, like coiling in or around a large pot. Or just coil it in a neat pile on the ground.
Release pressure. After turning off the faucet, release the pressure on the hose and fittings by opening the hose end. Close it afterwards to avoid having it spray when you next turn on the water.
Fix drips. Use plumber’s tape when you connect the hose to the faucet to stop drips before they stop.
Prevent leaks. Keep connections leak-free by replacing washers at the start of each watering season. If you spot a leaky connection during the growing season, replace the washer again. It’s worthwhile to keep a washer supply on hand for quick fixes.
Store for winter. Drain hoses before freezing weather arrives, coil them and store for winter. It’s best to store hoses indoors. Repeated exposure to freeze-thaw cycles can weaken the hose material.
Hose nozzles and wands:
A garden hose is just one part of watering thirsty plants. Learn what you can do to coax the longest life from your hose-end watering devices.
Let off the pressure. Open the watering wand end of the hose after turning off the faucet. Keep the wand open until the water stops dribbling, then turn it off.
Invest in quality. Professional quality watering wands feature replaceable breakers and turn-off valves. Watering wands formed as one fused part from handle to breaker require more frequent replacement and cost you more in the long run.
Check the grip. Look for watering tools with ergonomic handles and stay-on features that don’t demand a constant grip for water to flow freely. Choose faucet splitters with large, easy to turn handles.
Choose on-off valves. Select a tool with an on-off feature that allows you to control the water flow without going back to the faucet. This saves water and time.
Store for winter. Remove watering wands and nozzles from hoses for winter. Also remove faucet splitters. Before storing, drain these items by standing upright for a few hours. You can lean them against a wall outside or inside a building near a floor drain.
Digging is hard work that’s even more difficult when tools aren’t properly maintained. Discover what you need to know to keep your favorite diggers ready to go.
Clean the blades. After each use, rinse dirt off shovels and trowels. If they’re caked with dirt, let them soak in a bucket of water, then use a combination of churning and swishing motions to help remove soil. Rinse or wipe down handles, too, to remove traces of soil. Allow tools to dry before storing.
Prevent rust. After rinsing, wipe metal parts down with a lightweight lubricating oil, such as machine oil or silicone spray. An easy way to apply oil is to stuff a sock with sand or cloth, tie off the end and dip into clean engine oil. Squeeze out excess oil, and use the oil sock to wipe down metal parts of clean tools. Store the sock in an upcycled lidded plastic container or zipper bag.
Tend to handles. Rinse handles after use. Rub clean wooden handles with a medium grit sandpaper to remove any splinters or rub out nicks. Annually, coat wooden handles with a layer of boiled linseed oil or inexpensive olive oil. Let handles dry completely before storing.
Sharpen edges. As edges on digging tools become dull, sharpen them using a straight file or grinder. Follow the existing bevel along the blade edge. Tools like scooping shovels and some trowels have dull edges that shouldn’t be sharpened.
Our last tip is to properly store all of your all of your tools and equipment - from shovels and hoses - in a clean, dry place that is out of the elements this winter. Snow, rain, and moisture of any kind can sabotage all of your efforts to keep tools in good condition for the spring. If you're looking for help with wrapping up the season, let the pros handle it for you! Contact Rooted In Nature by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 443-846-0199. We are happy to assist you!