Taking a little bit of time to care for your garden tools will help you get the best from them year after year. In this helpful guide, the long running manufacturer of top quality British garden tools, Burgon & Ball offers expert advice.
Cleaning Your Garden Tools
Ideally you need to give your tools a gentle clean every time you use them. This is unlikely to be realistic, so at least aim for a pre winter clean or some TLC before the spring gardening season begins.
To make sure your tools are thoroughly clean it is best to get a bucket of warm water and some detergent. (There are many on the market that are specifically aimed for this but washing up liquid or hand wash will be suitable.) Then get a brush with good stiff bristles, a washing up sponge and a gentle scourer. Firstly you will need to knock off any heavy dried on mud with your brush. If your garden has heavy clay soil your tools might need to be soaked before this is possible to remove. When the worst of the dried on mud has come off wash the tools in the warm soapy water. Scrub until they’re clean. If you have a scourer use this to remove any dried sap on loppers or secateur blades. Once all mud and residue is off, rinse in clean water. You can either leave your tools to dry naturally in the air or dry with a towel.
Sharpening Your Garden Tools
Any of your garden tools that have blades will perform better with a really sharp edge. Sharp tools are easier to use and kinder to your plants as they slice through stems cleanly. Blunt blades risk crushing stems and leaving the plant with a ragged wound that’s more open to disease resulting in it being more difficult to heal. So taking care of your garden hand tools are important.
Choose the right sharpener for your tools:
- Pocket knives and small garden tools – miniature steels
- Most secateurs, loppers, hedge sheers – blade edge restorers or multi-sharpening products
- Large garden tools (or even heritage agricultural tools) – scythe stones
- Topiary shears – topiary trimming shear sharpener. This specific tool allows both sides of your topiary shears to be trimmed in situ, preserving the all important ‘set’ of the blades
Oiling Your Garden Tools
For the complete tool care experience applying oil to cleaned and sharpened tools will add extra protection. For cutting tools rub an oily cloth over the surface of the blade or over the tool head for stainless steel tools. This should leave a thin film of oil creating a barrier between the metal and the air which will protect the metal from moisture that can form rust.
The oil also lubricates any moving parts, such as where the blades of a shear pass over each other as the tool is closed, giving a smoother action. This will result in less wear on the blades which is good for longer life and improved performance.
Maintenance Of Your Garden Hand Tools
Keeping your tools clean and up together is a really important task if you’re an avid gardener, but as well as keeping them clean it is also worth replacing any ‘loose’ or needed parts. You could have a loose handle of your favourite spade which is best to replace with a new one rather than trying to fix it as it can become weak. A hole in your garden hose could have been discovered, which if you’re fixing it’s best to cut either side of the hole and use couplings for a stronger longevity fix.
Store Your Garden Hand Tools Well
As well as caring, cleaning and maintaining those used tools it is also imperative that the tools get stored well to keep them in pristine condition. It is always a good option to invest in your storage for your outdoor equipment, many gardeners have storage such as a shed or garage. However if you don’t, there are many containers that you can purchase that can be used just as effectively.
Caring for your tools can be enjoyable and satisfying. The time spent will pay you back in terms of making gardening tasks easier and the longevity of your tools which also can save you money.
Tool Care Toolkit:
- Bucket (for soapy water)
- Brush with stiff bristles
- Scouring brush
- Relevant tool sharpeners (e.g. miniature steel, multi-purpose sharpener, stones)
Why not check in your local store and pick up some of these useful tools and more.