By Karen Gibson, Denton County Master Gardener Association
Winter is the perfect time for garden tool preventative maintenance. This includes cleaning and sanitizing tools, sharpening blades, and maintenance of power tools.
- Safety glasses and thick gloves to protect eyes and hands
- Mill file, carborundum stone, and vise grip for sharpening
- Water-displacing penetrating lubricant to remove and prevent rust and lubricate moving parts (examples, WD-40, 3-in-One Multipurpose Drip Oil)
- Turpentine to remove plant sap
- Boiled linseed oil to preserve wood handles
- Wire brush and a putty knife to remove soil
- Sandpaper to smooth wood handles and steel wool to polish fine metal surfaces
Step 1: Clean and remove any soil and debris. Use the wire brush and/or putty knife and soap and water on hand tools (shovels, trowels, pruning shears, etc.). Remove plant debris from under the mower deck, string trimmer, and other power garden tools to eliminate weed seeds.
Disinfect the blades of pruning shears and loppers to eliminate spreading disease. This should be done after every use.
Use steel wool or the wire brush to remove rust from metal surfaces.
Step 2: Sharpen the cutting edge of pruning shears, mower blades, etc. Sharpen the scoop edge of shovels, trowels, etc. If not comfortable with the sharpening task, many local hardware stores will sharpen tools.
Step 3: Wipe all metal surfaces with lubricating oil to remove and prevent rust. After cleaning and sanding any nicks, wipe wood handles with boiled linseed oil.
Step 4: Follow the owner’s manual to maintenance power tools. Typically this includes tightening loose screws and nuts, removing fuel from the tank, changing the oil, checking and replacing spark plugs as needed, and replacing any damaged or worn parts.
Step 5: Now that your tools are in tip-top shape, store them in a clean and dry location. During the growing season, keep a wire brush or putty knife nearby to clean tools as you put them away. Disinfect cutting blades after every use. With proper care, your tools will last a long time.
For more information about gardening in North Texas go to dcmga.com/north-texas-gardening.