Prepare Garden Tools and Equipment for Winter

Though you may have thought your gardening chores were behind you, don’t forget to tuck your gardening tools into bed for the winter. Too often we forget to prepare our tools and equipment for their winter hiatus, but a little bit of attention now will be rewarded with years of good service from gardening tools.

It’s hard to know when to call the gardening season quits some years. Just when we think we’ve mowed the lawn for the last time, we get a couple of weeks of mild temperatures that bring back the green blades of grass. Newly planted flowers, trees and shrubs should be watered thoroughly every week or so right up until the ground freezes, especially if rainfall is lacking.

But as freezing temperatures become more frequent, you can start to prepare your tools by giving them a thorough cleaning. Those steel wool barbecue-grill scrubbing pads are great for removing caked-on soil from shovels, hoes, trowels and spades. Scrub the blades and handles with soap and water, and allow them to dry completely before storing. Be sure to rub a little linseed oil or similar protector over wood handles to keep the wood from drying and splitting. Sharpening your tools now will help ensure a quick start in spring when the gardening bug bites.

Drain water from garden hoses and sprinklers, and hang them to dry before coiling the hoses for storage. Now is a good time to replace washers and repair leaks. Hoses left outdoors during the winter are likely to crack and split, especially if they still have water inside.

Rinse and dry your fertilizer/pesticide spreader and oil all moving parts. Pesticide sprayers should be rinsed and allowed to drip dry before storing. The best way to dispose of unused chemicals in the sprayer is to apply the product as directed on the label. Store unused pesticides in their original containers with the label intact. Be sure to place all pesticides away from children’s and pets’ reach in either a locked cabinet or a storage shelf at least 4 feet off the ground and protected from both freezing temperatures and excessive heat.

When you are fairly certain your lawn has seen its last mowing for this season, run your mower until it is out of fuel. Changing the mower’s spark plug and sharpening the blades now will save you some time next spring. There are some products available that are supposed to help stabilize fuel so it can be stored over winter, but it is still best to drain or use up leftover fuel. Similarly, use up or drain fuel from the garden tiller before storing. If your equipment has a 4-cycle engine, drain and replace the crankcase oil. Clean the machine by scraping off matted grass and wiping off accumulated oil. Lubricate moving parts according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Ahh, now you can finally relax and enjoy the fruits of your gardening labor curled up next to the fireplace with your favorite gardening book!


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Disclaimer: Reference to products is not intended to be an endorsement to the exclusion of others which may have similar uses. Any person using products listed in these articles assumes full responsibility for their use in accordance with current directions of the manufacturer.
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