Category: Maintenance

How to Properly Clean Your Garden Tools

Various gardening toolsTools are an investment in your work and hobbies. If you’re a mechanic, tools are your livelihood. If you’re a gardener, tools may or may not be your livelihood, but they’re still pretty important. Either way, it’s in your best interest to keep tools in good working condition.

Remove Soil and Potential Problems

Clean your tools after every use so you’ll be sure not to spread things like plant diseases, insect eggs or weed spores around the garden. Preventing rust is another great reason to clean tools after use. Wet soil promotes rust, which can dull and even erode sharp edges.

Any tool that’s been used in the soil should be pressure-washed. To remove clay mixtures, you’ll need a stiff brush and a little elbow grease. After a wash, always dry tools with a cotton cloth before storing them.

Cleaning Sap

Use a thick cloth to remove any sap on pruning shears, hedge clippers and any other tool that you used on trees and other plants with gum-like substances. If you use tools on a pitch-producing plant, try using paint thinner on the cloth to help remove the substance. Dry your tools to remove all traces of paint thinner. 

Oiling Prevents Rust

Take care of steel tools by oiling them after cleaning and drying. The oil prevents rust from forming by blocking oxygen out. If you’ve got motor oil, you’ve got what you need. To thin the oil and make it easier to work with, mix two parts of 30W oil (non-detergent only) to one part lamp oil or kerosene. Use a cloth to apply a thin layer. Don’t worry about the oil mixing with the soil; it’s a very small amount and oil is organic-based so it breaks down quickly.

You have invested a lot in your garden and gardening tools; time as well as money. Show your tools the same love you show your plants and they’ll keep producing, too.

How to Sharpen Your Garden Tools with a Dremel

Polishing MetalHave you ever tried to cut steak with a dull knife? You have to keep sawing away and pushing down pretty hard to get through it. Your fingers might smart a little by the time you’re done eating. It’s kind of like that with gardening tools, too. You can keep sawing or chopping away at that bush until your arms are sore, or you can make it a little easier by sharpening your hedge clippers or pruning shears first.

Small and Powerful

One of the best sharpening tools for this type of work is a handheld Dremel, a rotary tool that comes with several different attachments. It makes sharpening tools an easy enough task to tackle at home. It also gives you the ability to sharpen the edges of smaller tools, such as pruning shears, without taking them apart.

Safety First

First make sure you have safety goggles or glasses on to protect your eyes, as you would with any grinding tool. Put the tool that you want to sharpen either in a vise or secure it to a workbench. Select a grinding stone (there are several types that usually come with the tool itself). If you don’t have one, pick one up at your area hardware store. Slide the stone into the front, or shaft, of the drill and tighten.

Don’t Overdo It

Turn the power on and grind at a low setting to prevent overheating. Lower the drill against the edge of the tool and gently move it along the edge and back until you’re satisfied with the sharpness. A lighter touch is needed for this task; don’t apply too much pressure.

It’s no question that sharper tools will help you make quick work of many gardening tasks, including pruning roses, trimming shrubs and even digging holes. The best part? You won’t have to wait for―or pay for―someone else to do it