Winterize Your Garden Tools


While many of the gardening chores have ended for the season, there is still one task that needs to be completed. Now is the perfect time to get all of your garden tools ready for a winter break. A little preventative maintenance now can prevent frustration and expensive repair in the future. Properly maintained tools and equipment are easier to work with and will last longer.

First, let’s discuss one of our most important friends – the garden hose. To prevent sagging and kinking, store hoses on hose supports or reels or coil loosely rather than hanging them on nails. Be sure to drain all of the water from them and store in a dry location.

Now, let’s move on to hand tools. It is essential to remove all caked on soil or vegetation. This can be done with a wire brush, scraper or a strong stream of water. Grill brushes are a great option because they typically include a scraper. All pivot points and springs should be lubricated. Sharpen hoes, spades, pruners, loppers and saws.

Inspect tools thoroughly for loose screws and bent or broken parts and repair accordingly. To prevent rust, it is helpful to spray all exposed metal components and cutting edges with penetrating oil. It is also important to protect the wooden handles of your favorite garden tools. Wipe handles with boiled linseed oil to protect against cracking and drying.

Don’t forget your sprayer. All parts should be washed thoroughly and rinsed. Most pesticide labels recommend triple rinsing of sprayers. Apply oil to all moving parts. When storing your sprayer, hang upside down so that it can drain and dry completely.

Wheelbarrows, carts and wagons may also need some attention before winter. Don’t put them away dirty. Clean them thoroughly and touch up paint chips with spray paint to prevent exposed steel from rusting. Grease wheels to prevent squeaking.

Power equipment, such as lawn mowers, tillers, trimmers, and edgers, require additional winter preparations. Consult your owner’s manual or lawn equipment dealer for specific information.

By Bethany O’Rear, Regional Extension Agent, Alabama Cooperative Extension System.  Contact Bethany at

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) operates as the primary outreach organization for the land-grant functions of Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities. ACES is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity and the diversity of its workforce.  Educational programs of ACES serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or national origin.

Alabama Extension

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System operates as the primary outreach organization for the land-grant functions of Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities and answers home-gardeners' questions each week on Birmingham Gardening Today.

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