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Winter Tool Care

Kerrie’s horribly cared for tools.

Kerrie’s horribly cared for tools.
Kerrie Roach, ©2020, Clemson Extension

Winter can be a dreary time for a gardener. What better to do than look forward to sunshine and prepare for spring? During the growing season, our garden tools are typically an afterthought left haphazardly leaning where the work ended, thrown into the wheelbarrow, or if they make it back to the storage shed, they certainly never make it to the correct place. Over the next few weeks, take the time to put those garden tools away and spend a few extra minutes providing some TLC.

Clean – Make sure all your tools are clean and free from dirt and debris. This includes shovels, rakes, pruners, saws, and, most importantly, your mower deck. Weed seeds can hang out under the mower deck ready and waiting for spring use. Also, pruners should be disinfected (after each use) with alcohol to prevent the spread of disease.

Sharpen – Ensure that your tools are sharp and ready to go. Mower blades, shovels, pruners, and saws should all be sharpened. Replace any blades that are beyond repair. If you are not confident in doing this yourself, many local hardware stores will sharpen your tools for you.

Oil – Wipe down pruner blades with a household oil-soaked cloth. Treat any wooden tool handles with linseed oil, and apply until it stops soaking in. Make sure chainsaws have proper fluid levels. Grease any fittings on your mower; refer to the owner’s manual for location.

Sometimes the winter blues can get us down, but preparing for spring brings excitement for things to come. You can even add some extra spice to your tools by painting a brightly colored stripe on the handle so that it may be easily spotted in the landscape. Happy Gardening!

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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