Where would we be without our trusty gardening tools? But to get the best from them we need to show them a little tender loving care. Treat them well and there’s no reason they shouldn’t last for many years. Watch our video or read the article below to find out how to keep your tools as good as new…
How to Clean Digging and Cultivation Tools
Any tools coming into contact with the ground should always be cleaned off before storing. Mud can usually be blasted off with a jet of water, but if dirt has hardened you may need to soak metal parts first before wiping clean with an old rag.
Digging tools and other ground-contact tools such as hoes benefit from an occasional coating of oil, which helps to protect the blades or tines from moisture and rusting. Start by passing a wire brush over the tool to remove any ingrained dirt, build-up of sap, and any rust spots. Work both the front and back of the blade then wipe clean with a rag. Finally, apply your oil using a clean cloth. You can use any vegetable-based oil for the job; just avoid petroleum-based oils, which could taint your soil.
Sharpening Digging Tools and Garden Hoes
Tools with a clean, sharp edge will cut into the soil with much less effort. To sharpen spades, trowels and so on, pass a metal file over the edges of the blade. Keep the angle shallow and work your way along both the front and the back of the blade. If you have one, use a vice to clamp the tool still while you work. Finish by sealing the blade edges with oil.
Don’t forget to look after wooden handles. These can be cleaned then smoothed off with sandpaper or a sanding sponge, before polishing with a natural, protective oil such as teak oil.
Caring for Pruning Tools
Well cared for pruning tools will give a cleaner cut, which reduces the risk of introducing plant diseases and makes pruning physically less effort. Start by making sure your pruning tools are clean. Remove any ingrained dirt or sap, using a wire brush or wire wool if necessary. Wash them in soapy water then dry them.
Pruners, loppers and shears are all sharpened in much the same way. Hold the tool firmly in position then pass the sharpener over the edge of the blade. Use a file, whetstone or sharpening stone appropriate to the size of the blade. Only sharpen the cutting blade itself, working the stone in the same direction as the bevel. Smaller blades may need to be worked in a circular motion. It should take between two to five passes of the file or stone to complete the sharpening.
Now tighten up any loose bolts on moving parts. This is also a good time to order any replacement parts that are needed – for example new blades, springs or handles for a hard-working pair of pruners.
Finish by spraying with a tool lubricant. Don’t forget to apply lubricant throughout the year, particularly after heavy periods of pruning.
Look after your tools and they’ll serve you well. What are your tips for caring for your tools? Drop us a comment below and tell us.