If you enjoy gardening as a hobby, you’re probably keen to get the best out of your tools and equipment. Having spent money on them, it makes sense to do what you can to keep your tools in good condition, so that they will provide years of service and always be safe to use.
If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to garden tool maintenance, here are six easy tips on how to keep your kit in tip-top shape.
Get tool storage right
First, you need to make sure that you have somewhere appropriate to store your tools. This should be somewhere that you can keep everything tidy, clean, dry and organised. Additionally, you need to make sure that items are kept safe and secure at all times – particularly if you have children in the household. A sturdy shed or garage is the best storage option, but if you’re tight on space a smaller, lockable outdoor storage chest is a good alternative.
Clean tools after use
You should always clean your tools after they have been used to keep them in good condition. The cleaning method will depend on the tool, but will usually involve cleaning with a cloth or stiff brush, and possibly water. If you’ve still got the manuals for power tools, make sure you check these for instructions.
Once you’ve cleaned your tools, let them dry naturally or use a cloth to dry them. Never put tools away when they’re still wet, as this will encourage rust and sticking.
Maintaining metal parts
Items like pruners and shearers should be wiped with an oily rag, or spray them with a penetrating oil to keep them lubricated and working to a high standard. If your tool has screws or bolts it’s worth checking these now and then, and tightening if necessary.
It’s also important to correctly sharpen tools like hedge trimmers, this will improve their lifespan and provide a better performance. You should always check with a supplier, like SGS, for specific sharpening instructions, but they are likely to be as follows.
First, you need to clean the blades with soapy water, to remove leaves and small branches. Then, making sure the upper and lower blades are resting in the same position, use a flat file in the direction of the cutting edge. Only sharpen the blade downwards in the direction of the cutting edge, and never when pulling back upwards.
Electric garden tool maintenance
Other electric garden tools may require their own specific maintenance; again, if you’ve got the manual, make sure you check it. Maintenance jobs might include cleaning or replacing an air filter, tightening loose screws and fittings, cleaning the exterior and recharging the batteries.
If you use cordless power tools, try to get in the habit of recharging the battery straight after use, this will avoid you discovering a flat battery next time you go to use the tool.
Many tools have wooden handles, which can begin to splinter when old and/or neglected. The handle is an incredibly important part of any tool, and you need to take care of it to keep it strong and comfortable to use.
Inspect handles on a regular basis, and sand them smooth when you notice any signs of splintering. You can also soak them in a finishing oil for a smooth and strong finish.
Every gardener needs to make tool maintenance an important part of their routine. Cutting down on the need to replace your equipment makes sense from a financial and environmental perspective, and the safety implications of neglecting powerful tools shouldn’t be ignored. Hopefully these tips will help you to keep your gardening tools in great condition for years to come.
What’s your top tip for garden tool maintenance?