Looking after garden tools
Your garden tools are your best friends in the garden. They'll stand by you through thick and thin: they're the first things you reach for at times of trouble, and your companions through your greatest triumphs.
Well-made, good-quality tools like those you'll find at a garden centre can last you a lifetime if you take good care of them. So make it a part of your annual routine to spend an hour or two at the end of the season getting them in good shape before storing them away for the winter. Here's how:
- Give them a clean: let your stainless steel spades and forks dry for a few days so the mud is easier to brush off with a stiff-bristled hand brush. Get every last bit off including the mud wedged in to the neck of the tool head.
- Repair any breakages: bent fork tines can be straightened with a piece of hollow metal piping: just slot it over the end of the tine and pull. Replacement wooden handles are available at the garden centre, and you'll also find spare watering can roses to replace the one you lost, and new blades for pruning saws.
- Oil non-steel tools to prevent them rusting in damp weather. This can be as easy as wiping them over with a rag soaked in paraffin, or alternatively fill a bucket with sand and mix in some oil; then dig your tools into the sand to clean and oil them at the same time.
- Hang everything up out of the way so they won't fall over into a hopeless tangle which you'll have to sort out before you can use them.. Hang spades, hoes, forks and rakes blade-upwards, on double nails banged into the wall, and add some single nails to hold hand trowels, forks, and shears.
- Get powered tools serviced at a reputable garden machine company once a year, to change the oil, sharpen blades and generally give them the once over before they're back in regular use again.