Every season I get lots of questions about how to take care of gardening tools. Proper tool care helps prevent damaged plants and the spread of diseases, and insures your tools last a long time.
Not sure which tools to use? Take a look at Garden Design Magazine’s list of 12 Essential Garden Tools.
- Rise & dry your tools. Once you’re done for the day, rise off all your tools and dry them thoroughly.
- Remove sap. Use soap & water and some steelwool to remove all the sap. Dry thorougly and lubricate with linseed or mineral oil (don’t use a petroleum-based product. You’ll be introducing those chemicals to your soil and plants next time you use that tool).
- Remove disease. If you are using tools on or near diseased plants, be sure to clean tools thoroughly. Give them a quick soak in a diluted solution of 2 cups bleach mixed with 1 gallon of water, then rinse in plain water, or wipe with a cotton pad soaked with rubbing alcohol. Be sure to clean gardening gloves as well.
Throughout the Season
- Sharpen. Keep pruners, scissors, and sheers sharp. This helps prevent damage to your plants and helps your tools last longer. You can use one of these inexpensive and handy sharpeners.
- Oil. After washing with soap & water, rub tools down with linseed or mineral oil*. Make sure to lubricate the joints of tools like pruners, scissors, and sheers. Use linseed oil to keep wood handles from cracking. *Don’t use a petroleum-based product. You’ll be introducing those chemicals to your soil and plants next time you use that tool.
- Clean. Periodically clean tools thoroughly with soap & water. And why not toss your gardening gloves in the washer while you’re at it!
- Take tools apart. Unscrew the nut that holds pruners, sheers, and loopers together and wash all the parts separately with soap & water.
- Remove rust. Soak tools in a 1:1 vinegar to water solution overnight. Then scrub off rust with steelwool.
- Sanitize. Give tools a quick soak in a mix of bleach and water.
- Dry & lubricate. Thorougly dry and oil with mineral or linseed oil (don’t use a petroleum-based product. You’ll be introducing those chemicals to your soil and plants next time you use that tool).