Garden Tool Storage for Winter

Get prepared for snow with seasonal gardening tips for your garden equipment and lawn.

| November 2012

Getting your garden ready for winter is an important task, and one that can save a lot of grief in the spring — especially if you take care of your tools. Cleaning gardening tools is the key step in successful winterization, according to gardeners Joy Bossi and Karen Bastow, authors of Joy in Your Garden: A Seasonal Guide to Gardening (Cedar Fort, 2012). In this excerpt from the “December, January and February” section of the book, find tips on closing down your toolshed, winterizing your lawn and the crucial step to not forget about garden tool storage. 

Joy in Your Garden Seasonal Advice:

Raised Bed Gardening: Plan Your Vegetables and Herbs in Fall 

As the end of November draws the curtains and starts the process of bedding down the garden for the winter, very few chores are left remaining outside in the garden. Rounding up (ahem, finding) all the tools used in various endeavors is one that shouldn’t be neglected. There is always the danger that a hoe or rake might sneak under your foot and throw you on your head. And next spring you will want to be ready for all things bright and gardening.

Basic tools for the garden like shovels, trowels, and rakes need the soil knocked off them. Scrubbing a little with steel wool or a kitchen scrubby pad and soap and water should take care of the stubborn soil in the crevices. A light spray or wipe down with oil will keep the working end of the tools in tip-top shape for next year’s most excellent garden.

Your hands—and the hands of any helpers you get to “volunteer”—will also be relieved if you spend just a little time on the tool handles. I’ve been told that the handles of my tools would need very little care if they spent more time upright in the tool closet and less time waiting in the soil/flower bed/herb patch with their handle on the ground or propped up against the tree. The tools were probably put down “just for a second” when I spotted yet another patch of Field Bindweed peaking out from under a rose­bush on the other side of the garden.

To give the handles the care they deserve, first scrape or scrub the soil off of the wood—or plas­tic, or metal. For the wooden handles, a light pass or two with fine-grained sandpaper will remove most of the potential slivers. Give them a light rub with an old rag moistened with some boiled Linseed oil, and they’re ready to put away for the winter. You can stop at the scrape and scrub part for metal or plastic handles.

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