To make sure your gardening tools are ready to use as soon as spring arrives, follow these simple steps:
- Hose down spades, shovels, hoes, and edgers with water. Remove caked-on soil with a brush or steel wool and dry the tool with a rag. Clean pruners, loppers, and knives with mineral spirits to remove stubborn sap.
- If tools are getting dull, sharpen them before storing. Use an 8- or 10-inch mill file to sharpen digging tools and a lubricated whetstone to sharpen pruners and knives. Maintain an even angle all the way across the tool so you don't create a thin, weak spot on the edge. Always wear sturdy gloves and safety glasses when sharpening tools.
- If you don't want to sharpen your own tools, ask your local home improvement store, nursery, or garden center whether they provide this service.
- Lightly oil any exposed metal.
- Store tools where they'll stay dry--avoid garage floors or other places where tools might get wet from rain or melting snow. Hang shovels and spades on tool bars and put smaller tools on shelves or hooks.