After your fall clean-up is complete for the year, it is time to winterize your tools so that they are sharp, sanitized, and easy to find come spring.

  1. Clean all soil and debris off tools.
  2. Sanitize tools, especially those that have been used on diseased plant material.
  3. Sharpen blades of hoes, pruners, spades, loppers, and saws.
  4. Make any necessary repairs.
  5. Organize tools and equipment so that it is easily accessible for spring.

Remove soil or vegetation from all tools using a wire brush, scraper or a strong stream of water. Wire brushes marketed to clean grills are handy because they usually include a scraper. Once everything has been cleaned and dried, lubricate all tool pivot points and springs. Finally, spray all bare metal parts and cutting edges with penetrating oil such as WD-40 to prevent rust.

When sanitizing garden tools, the usual ratio is a 10 percent solution or 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Using a 1 cup measuring cup, this would be 1 cup bleach to 9 cups water. Use a heavy solution of 3 parts bleach and 2 parts water to disinfect tools used on plants that are known to be diseased. Sanitizing once per year for tools such as shovel and hoes is sufficient, but tools such as pruners and loppers should be sanitized after each use. This process with help prevent the spread of fungus, disease, insects, and insect eggs.

Check all tools thoroughly for loose screws or nuts and tighten them accordingly. Replace or repair broken handles and other bent or broken parts. Wheelbarrows, carts and wagons may also need some attention before winter. Clean them thoroughly and touch up paint chips with spray paint to prevent exposed steel from rusting.

With your array of garden tools and supplies, the key to great garage storage and organization is getting things off the floor and onto the wall. A pegboard attached to a wall is a great place to store garden tools when not in use. Hardware stores and home improvement centers have a variety of hooks and wall brackets for tools of all shapes and sizes. Don’t forget the hoses and other watering aids. Before storing hoses, nozzles and other sprinkler attachments away for the winter, drain all the water from them and store in a dry location. Hose supports or reels prevent sagging and kinking. Regardless of your preferred storage method, having tools ready to go in the spring will make those early season chores that much easier.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Rachael and Tobias