Photo by Freepik.

Winterizing gardening tools is a sharp idea

There is usually very little gardening activity during the holiday season. Before you forget, take time to winterize your garden tools. A little extra energy spent now will reward you in the spring, when you are ready to start gardening and your tools are in great working order.

After the end of a hard gardening season, many gardeners are happy to forget about those power tools they dumped in the garage or shed, only to find they won’t start when needed next spring. Or the pruners or shovels that got left outside are rusted or corroded.

No one wants to have to buy new tools annually. With a little maintenance now, instead of frustration next spring, you can begin to garden when you are ready.

Good gardening tools are expensive. With just a little bit of time and care, they can last for years.


Gas-powered tools – tillers, mowers, string trimmers, etc.Try to run them out of gas. Drain oil. Clean off any dried mud or grass clippings. Sharpen blades now.Leftover gas absorbs moisture, making motors run rough. Oil can get thick if unused or cold.
Electric toolsStore lithium batteries indoors. Read manual about leaving batteries on or off charger while not in use. Clean tools, and sharpen any blades.Extreme fluctuations of temperature can shorten the life span of batteries. Information varies by brand; some recommend draining power supplies, while others recommend charging periodically.
Pruning tools, hedge trimmersClean them thoroughly before storing. If any rust has accumulated, use steel wool to clean. Sharpen blades, then use a light coating of oil on metal parts.Oiling metal parts helps resist rust.
Shovels, rakes and hoesClean off all debris. Oil any metal parts and wooden handles. Replacement handles or rubber grips are available at many hardware stores.Oiling metal parts helps resist rust. Oiling handles prevents them from drying out or cracking.
Water hosesRemove them from faucets, coil and store in a protected spot. Keep one handy in case of dry weather this winter.Left exposed, any interior water can freeze, causing cracks or leaks in hoses.
Gas cansLabel cans with plain gas or gas and oil mixes to keep them separate. Use up any leftover gas.Stored gas will accumulate water and will not be as good as fresh gas next spring.
ContainersUnglazed terra cotta pots should be stored in a protected area. Pots that held diseased plants should have soil discarded. Sterilize pots with a 10% bleach solution, then rinse with plain water.Unglazed pots will absorb moisture, freeze and thaw, leading to cracked or flaking containers.