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).
One thought on “How To Care For Your Tools”
My old Corona shears are still operational since 1985! I do not take very good care of them, since I use them around the farm and in my home garden. The tools that we used for pruning other trees needed to be cleaned and sanitized very regularly. If we did not do so between trees, we did so before starting any job. Sometimes, if there were different cultivars of similar trees at the same job, we needed to sanitize between trees. Some diseases were prevalent here.