Brilliant blooms, edible produce and green lawns are not the only pride of a garden. Behind all successful gardens are the resources and tools that created them. In order to keep your garden in tip-top shape, your tool maintenance also needs to be up to speed. Read more to find out about conditioning and caring, to give your garden the best results with top-performing equipment.
Precision pruning through tool maintenance
Pruning is not only an essential step for plant health, but also key to rose care and a central part of developing bonsai. While your hedges and shrubs go through varying seasonal growth periods, continual tool maintenance ensures better performance and longevity.
The tool maintenance list that makes the cut
You can ensure your tools perform as well as the day you received them (if not better), with the right approach. While sharpening is a major part of the process, cleaning, conditioning and inspecting are also crucial to overall tool care. With these combined efforts, you will be sure to have your tools last for years to come.
Once you have completed a major pruning session, the first step to tool maintenance is cleaning. You can either rinse off a piece of garden equipment by running water over it, or for stubborn, stuck-on mud, immerse it in a bucket of water. Additionally, use a wire brush or sandpaper to remove soil, as well as soapy water with some light scrubbing.
Remove any traces of disease by applying a bleach solution. Soak the metal part of the tool in a solution of 500ml bleach to 4 litres of water and rinse it with clean water. Afterwards, apply rubbing alcohol with a cloth or cotton pad to the tool and dry thoroughly.
Rust protection and treatment
As the final step to the cleaning phase, it’s important to use aftercare to avoid future rusting. Apply boiled linseed oil to both the metal and wooden handles. Wipe off after 15 minutes with a dry cloth.
As for removing rust, soak your tools overnight in a solution of one part water and one part vinegar. The next day, scrub lightly with steel wool, dry and then rub in linseed oil.
To remove sap residue, use disinfecting wipes for the sticky situation.
Blades are the main element in any of the cutting tools like secateurs, loppers and clippers. Remember to also sharpen tools, like hoes, to turn your soil with ease.
Depending on your sharpening preference may vary. You can utilise sharpening aides like files, whetstones or sharpening stones. For lawnmower blades and shovels with dings and nicks, opt for a grinder for the serious marks. For rake teeth (tines), use small files. If you have concerns about the tool or blade slipping, use a vice to secure it.
Make sure to set up your sharpening area outside in a shed, or a protected area (away from pets and children) where you can sweep up any metal shavings. Be sure to use protective eyewear and gloves to deflect any flying pieces of metal slivers.
When sharpening, work in one direction on the cutting blade, following the bevel angle. Position your sharpening device at a shallow angle. For smaller blades, hold them against your whetstone and apply a circular motion.
Wooden handles on hedge clippers, rakes and general gardening hand tools need conditioning. When treating handles, clean them first by wiping them down with a damp cloth, dry them, and then smooth them with fine grain sandpaper. Go for a higher grit above 120. Seal the handles with polish that has a protective oil in it, like teak.
Hinges and joints
While you are doing your maintenance, inspect your hinges thoroughly. Make sure to tighten up bolts and attachments. Use a tool lubricant to oil up the working parts for a smoother movement.
For longer-lasting tools, store them in a dry, covered space away from dew and moisture.