Garden tools are expensive, so it makes sense to look after them. They can last for years with proper care. And a gardener is only as good as his (or her) tools!
If your spade, shears and other tools have seen better days, here’s how to bring them back to life.
Give them a good clean
Get rid of layers of dirt by washing them with soapy water. You may need to use a stiff brush to knock off some of the mud.
Then remove any rust by rubbing in circular motions with wire wool or a wire brush. Be careful not to scrape too hard, or you may cause the metal to become thin and weak.
Sharpen the edges
Cutting blades become blunt after lots of use, so use a metal file to sharpen the edges. This works on shears, hoes and secateurs, as well as on the edge of spades.
Put a little bit of general purpose oil like WD40 on the blade before you sharpen it, and remember to move the file, not the blade.
But any damaged blades should be replaced. New blades are available from garden retailers and DIY stores.
Oil the tools
Once your tools are clean and sharp, apply a general purpose oil on the metal. Rub the oil into the surface before wiping away any excess. Let the first layer soak in and apply a second coat.
This helps prevent rust and ensure that dirt doesn’t stick to the blade.
Cleaning power tools
Always disconnect the plug before cleaning power tools. Scrub off any dirt and debris and wash with hot, soapy water. Don’t get any water near the electrical components.
Let the tools dry and remove any rust with wire wool.
But don’t oil power tools unless advised to by the manufacturer – they don’t usually need it.
Remember to check the cable and plug for any damage too.
General tool maintenance
Store tools like spades and forks by hanging them, rather than sitting them on the ground.
And clean tools as you use them – wet soil is the number one cause of rust on metal tools. Always allow tools to dry before storing them.