The Richmond Register

Lifestyles & Community

November 7, 2012

Winterize your tools

A little maintenance now can save you money and a headache come next spring

RICHMOND — Now is a good time to winterize your tools.

Doing so can save you money and a headache when springs comes around next year.

Make sure to drain your water hose. Water expands as it freezes and could damage your hose, if it is not properly drained.

Stretch the hose all the way out with both ends open. Allow all the water to drain out, then coil it up. Store them on hose reels or coiled on the ground. Hanging the hose on a nail could promote kinks in the line.

Inspect your garden tools. Make sure to clean off any dirt or debris.

Soil or plant material left on tools could transmit disease to your plants next year.

For especially heavy clay soil, you may need to use a wire brush for cleaning. Spray metal parts with a penetrating oil such as WD-40 to prevent rust.

Another idea is to place sand and oil (such as motor oil) in a large bucket, then slide your tools in and out of the sand.

Tools such as hoes and spades need to be kept sharp. After cleaning the metal, use a sharpening stone or a file.

Keep the file at a slight angle over the beveled edge. That would be the top or front side of shovels or spades.

Using a sweeping motion from one side to the other, push the file along the edge in a one-way stroke away from the blade.

After sharpening the front, turn the tool over and lightly file the back of the blade to remove any metal burrs that may have formed when the front side was filed. Wipe the blade with oil.

Loppers, pruners and other cutting utensils also need to be routinely sharpened in a similar fashion to the ones described above.

Also, check your tools for plant sap. Accumulation of this sticky material can dull and impair usage. Turpentine can be used to clean off gunky material.

Run your mower until it is out of fuel or add a fuel stabilizer; otherwise you could damage your engine. Also, change your oil.

Old oil can be corrosive to engine parts, especially if the mower is just sitting idle during the winter. Check the owner’s manual for any tips on winterizing the machine. Make sure the blades are sharpened for next spring’s first cutting.

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