The Constant Gardener: Getting Your Tools Ready For Spring

With spring waiting right around the corner, it’s almost time to take stock of your gardening equipment and prepare for the coming season. At the very least, it will give you hope that winter really won’t last forever. If you have a lawn or garden to maintain, here are a few tips to help you get ready for spring.

Prepare Your Power Equipment

Once a year, all power equipment – such as lawn mowers, weed trimmers, garden tillers, and edgers – should be tuned up and checked out thoroughly to keep everything running smoothly. Not only will regular maintenance ensure peak condition and optimal safety standards, it may also reduce your fuel consumption and emissions. Begin by cleaning the body of the machine to eliminate any residue or obstructions, and look for any parts that need to be replaced. For instance, the line in your weed trimmer may be due for a replacement. Rather than waiting until your equipment breaks down while you’re in the middle of doing yard work, immediately replace any loose screws, nuts, bolts, or O-rings, and be vigilant throughout the season – these parts can loosen over time as a result of the constant vibration of the engine.

After all that time in hibernation over the winter, the oil will likely need to be changed, along with the air filters and spark plugs. If you neglected to empty the fuel when you put your equipment away, you may need to perform a comprehensive flushing before fueling up for the start of the season. Determine if any hinges or other moving parts have stiffened up and lubricate as needed. You may also need to sharpen any blades that have become dull, but be careful. For best results, maintain the upkeep by cleaning your power equipment after each use. This way, your equipment will continue to function properly for a longer period of time and you’ll have less to worry about next spring. If you discover that your lawn mower is beyond saving, review websites like Lawn Mower Lane can help you choose a new one. After all, spring is the season of renewal and a time to start fresh.

Hone Your Hand Tools

It isn’t only power tools that need a good tune-up every year. Hand tools also require regular maintenance; for example, the pivots of shears and pruners are too often neglected. Use a lubricant like WD-40 to spray the joints to prevent them from seizing up while you’re snipping away. Inspect the blades to determine if they’re sticky, and if they are, polish them up using alcohol and a cleaning rag. If the blades aren’t sharp enough to do the job, use a file or whetstone to sharpen them. Here’s a handy tip to make sure you don’t leave any part of the blade dull: using a dark marker, color the blade fully and sharpen until the color of the marker is completely gone. This should go without saying, but always exercise extreme caution when handling sharp blades.

You should also be careful when dealing with any hand tools that have wooden handles. Sometimes the wood can splinter or crack. Using sandpaper, neutralize any signs of splintering with a light sanding. Follow that up by rubbing the wood with linseed oil to protect the handles from future damage. To avoid any potential hand-tool hazards, invest in a pair of thick safety gloves to wear when you are maintaining your lawn or garden.

Remove The Rust

As you’re digging your shovels, spades, forks, and hoes out of the shed or garage this spring, check for any leftover soil or residue remaining from last year. Scrub that old stuff off with a wire brush, or even better, you can use a tool to clean your tools! A power drill equipped with a wire brush attachment is a great way to scrub that caked-on dirt off of your larger tools. If you have to use water to aid the cleaning process, dry your metal tools thoroughly afterwards to prevent rust. When everything is clean and dry, wipe them down with some WD-40 and an old rag.

Unfortunately, you may find that the corrosive scourge of rust has already reared its nasty head. If that’s the case, you can try to help release the rust by soaking the offending tools in white vinegar for several hours. Hopefully this will do the trick, but if the rust has advanced to the stage that it will negatively impact the structure and integrity of the tool, it’s better to be safe than sorry – toss it out and buy a new one. Just remember to take better care of your new tools during the season and before packing everything away for the winter.

Freshen Up Your Flower Pots

When it comes to flower pots and seed trays, the golden rule is out with the old and in with the new. Prior to the start of the season, eliminate any trace of mold or disease from last year by emptying out all leftover soil and plant remnants. Using a stiff brush, give your pots and trays a vigorous cleaning with a solution consisting of nine parts hot water and one part bleach. For particularly filthy containers, submerge them in the solution and let them soak for 20 minutes. Make sure to remove the bleach afterwards by rinsing the pots and trays thoroughly once you’re done scrubbing or soaking. All that’s left to do is plan out your seeds and container gardens, and you’re ready for spring to arrive!