Tend to Your Tools for Winter

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner
Tend to Your Tools for Winter

Winter, when you’re not as busy tending your garden as you are during the growing season, is a good time to clean and maintain your tools.

I admit when it comes to maintaining my garden tools, my intentions are good but time seems to get away from me. Winter, when you’re not as busy tending your garden as you are during the growing season, is a good time to clean and maintain your tools.

Old rusted shovel against ivy wall in summer

One thing I plan to do this winter, along with cleaning and sharpening my tools, is install a peg board with hooks to organize all the tools on. I recently heard a great tip: take a marker and outline the shape of each tool where it will hang. This will make it easy to know where it goes when it’s time to store them. A tool that I couldn’t live without is my hand pruners. I take them with me whenever I go out in my garden, whether it’s to pull weeds or cut back perennials or plants. I prefer the bypass type and they have to be strong enough to cut back not only perennials but certain shrubs too, like my roses.

Beyond routine care, like removing dirt and sap that accumulates, washing the blades with mild soapy water and then drying them off thoroughly, you can use sand that has been oiled to condition the blades on your pruners, as well as shovels, spades, hedge shears and edging tools. You can use the oil that comes in the Cleaning kit from Fiskars, which includes a steel diamond file to sharpen all your blades and an instruction booklet with detailed information on how to sharpen blades.

When you give your tools a deep cleaning, it’s also the ideal time to sharpen your blades. Doing this at least once a year (although once a month is better) will help keep your tools in good working order. You can do it yourself or take them to a local hardware or machine shop.

If you have shovels, rakes or other tools with wooden handles, apply an application of linseed oil to help keep the wood from drying out. I have a digging spade that belonged to my grandmother and realize I need to make sure I follow my own advice. If you have an eco-friendly reel mower, even one like the Stay Sharp, with blades that don’t need to be sharpened, you still need to maintain it. Applying a lapping compound once a year to the cutting blades will help keep them smooth and your mower will preform better.

Even the best made tools don’t last forever and if you use them for jobs that they weren’t designed to handle, you may have to replace parts such as rakes or blades on pruners. The good news is that Fiskars offers new blades for certain pruners and replacement rake heads (which means you don’t have to replace the handle). For more information, click here.

Winter is the ideal time to clean and organize your tools, and decide which ones to replace for the spring. New tools also make great gifts!