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How To Maintain Garden Tools

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garden tools

Garden tools

Some people collect Hummel figurines. Not me. I collect garden tools. I have been ordering them all winter. It is a devilish pleasure, a passion if you will. They are organized now after my garage clean-up, hanging along the wall standing sentry for spring to arrive.


With these fantastical tools comes a responsibility to care for them. Maintaining tools starts with the most important tip of all – clean tools off after every use. Hosing off and removing all soil and plant matter can truly help your tools last longer.

Fiberglass and plastic handles require little more than a quick wash with soap and water. Wood handles, however, should be sanded and oiled regularly, once every year or two works for me. Be sure to sand with a fine paper sander – the idea is not to remove the surface but to maintain it. Rub the freshly sanded surface with linseed oil. Use as much oil as it takes until it cannot absorb any more, wait for a half-hour, then wipe clean.

Metal tool cutting edges require sharpening, which can be accomplished by filing. Remove light rust with a wire brush. Heavier rust can be removed with steel wool, followed by a rust-proofing primer, then paint if necessary. WD-40 keeps hinges working well.

The oil prevents rust, and some prefer to store metal tools in a large bucket with coarse sand to which motor or vegetable oil has been added. I think vegetable oil is more sustainable, but it will harden in cold temperatures. You can store tools in the winter in the oily sand or remove and wipe them off before storage. Another maintenance choice, which I prefer, is to hang tools (see above photo of garage), oiling only at the end of the season.

Of course, while conditioning and sharpening tools can be done yourself, finding a local professional to sharpen them for you is also a great choice.

Keep your tools in good condition and they will last for years and give you decades of easy use. Leave a comment and let me know what tips you practice for maintaining your garden tools.

Easy-peasy and Fresh Garden Tuna Salad

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  1. Shawna, Love love you collection, only another crazy gardener would covet your wonderful collection…I am going to share your post…love it…julie

  2. wonderful advice…I wish my hubby would hang mine as requested…I'll have to show him your pic…his OCD may kick in seeing the neat rows…I would hang them but it would not be a pretty sight..

  3. Hi!

    I would love to talk to you about an issue that I feel is a hot topic in environmental news and something that most families are intrigued to read about. I have written an article that I think your readers would be interested in seeing on your blog.

    I'm looking to promote that idea that by encouraging grocery shoppers to branch out from their usual selections and to join the local food movement, they can help provide a healthy food choice for their families and create a more sustainable agricultural system.

    Kori Bubnack

  4. Thanks for your tips Shawna. I have definitely neglected my gardening tools and commit to taking better care of them.

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