- Make a habit of cleaning your tools after each use.
It can be as simple as hosing down your shovels or wiping the sap off your pruners with a clean rag. Taking a few seconds for these little tasks will keep your tools in tip-top shape and ensure they’re ready to use the next time.
2. Store your tools in a dry and protected area, preferably hanging on a wall
One should feel guilty of leaving tools outside on the ground and even in the rain.
Moisture is the enemy of gardening tools, so remember to bring them under cover when you’re done using them. Wet soil is the main culprit of corrosion, so it’s always good practice to rinse off any mud clinging to your tools and dry them thoroughly before storing. If you live in a particularly humid climate or receive a lot of fog, it’s a better idea to bring your tools inside a garage or shed to prolong their life.
3. Clean and oil your gardening tools frequently
These hard-working tools are especially prone to rust from sap and residue build-up on the blades. Use a stiff brush or scrubby pad to loosen dirt from the crevices, then wash the blades with warm soapy water and dry them thoroughly. Apply a few drops of lubricating oil to the pivot joints and blades, and wipe off the excess with a towel.
4. At least once a year, give your tools a quick sharpening
Local tool shops and garden centers sometimes provide this service, but it’s just as easy to pick up a sharpening device, like a flat file, whetstone, or carbide knife sharpener, and make a few passes over the cutting edge of your blade when it’s feeling dull.
5. Don’t neglect wooden handles
At the end of the season, inspect the handles on your loppers, spades, forks, and other gardening tools for signs of splintering. If necessary, sand them smooth. Use a clean rag to apply a finishing oil (such as tung oil or boiled linseed oil) and let it soak in for several minutes, reapplying as necessary until the wood cannot absorb anymore oil. Wipe off any excess oil before storing your tools.