Olbrich Home Holiday Express

Garden Tool Maintenance

by Tony Gomez, Horticulturist

As fall and winter approach, now is a good time to do some much-needed maintenance on your garden tools. This ensures they will last you many seasons, saving you time an money that could be spent on plants and supplies.

We've all come across a rusty tool whose fate in the local landfill was sealed when it was left out or uncared for. Properly storing and maintaining your trusty (not rusty) tools in the fall will get you off to a quick start in the spring.

If anything, tools should be washed and dried after each use. This helps stop the spread of disease and removed moisture-laden soil that contributes to rust.

Remove rust with a wire brush or steel wool and be sure to coat your tool with oil to stop the oxidation process. Oils used range from WD-40 to household cooking oil, which is a nice non-petroleum based alternative.

Wooden handles can be sanded down to prevent splinters and then wiped down with a penetrating oil or a surface finish. (Be aware that these contain chemicals that can be dangerous and flammable if used without proper safety precautions.) Protecting the wood saves trees, and that's what we want.

Keep your cutting edges sharp. A sharp tool makes a clean cut and a happy gardener!

Finally, make sure to store your tools off the ground in a dry and protected area.

Following these suggestions will cut down on garden tool waste while keeping you out of the hardware store and in your garden.

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Olbrich Botanical Gardens is operated as a public-private partnership between the City of Madison Parks Division and the Olbrich Botanical Society.
Olbrich Botanical Gardens | 3330 Atwood Avenue, Madison, WI 53704. | Phone: (608)246-4550 | Fax: (608)246-4719