Cleaning And Sharpening Garden Tools

Regular cleaning and sharpening garden tools make cleaner cuts, allowing tools to perform their best

Winter is the right time to examine your garden tools, but depending on how often you use your tools caring for them should be a yearly project.

Dull shears and pruners do more harm than good and sharp digging tools save you time and energy.

I prefer to take care of my tools after each round of garden maintenance to keep them clean, rust-free and razor sharp -ready for the next use.

Sharpening Garden Tools

Top-of-the-line tools can last for years, but they too need a clean and sharpen once in a while. Your plants will thank you for it with healthy growth and many blooms.

Caring For Your Garden Tools

After a full season of gardening, winter is the best time to get garden tools in shape for spring. Not only pruning tools need maintenance but any other tools used in the garden need cleaning, sharpening and oiling.

Guide through Garden Tools Maintenance 

Further information

What You Need For Cleaning And Sharpening Garden Tools

You will probably have some materials and tools for the cleaning and sharpening job around the house.

Seems a lot of supplies to use for simple cleaning and sharpening tasks, but if you always keep your gardening tools clean and tidy, you will not need all the supplies.

Cleaning Gardening Tools

Gardening tools should be cleaned after each use to extend their life and to keep rust away, which will slowly destroy the tools.

Do not underestimate the unwanted spreading of diseases, fungi, insect eggs and weeds through dirty tools. Some rose gardeners yet disinfect their pruning shears when they finished pruning only one rose bush, to avoid carriers of diseases.

Gardening tools that come in contact with soil: should be cleaned with water and soap, maybe hose them off with the garden hose nozzle adjusted to high pressure. Some scrubbing with a brush may also be necessary.

Sometimes I clean them with Bon Ami, a natural cleaning powder, to get all the horticultural gunk off.

Before putting the tools away, dry them with a cotton rag.

Tools without contact to soil: remove any gunk, gum, sap or light rust with a damp cotton rag. If there is any dirt that won’t come off easily, use a scrub brush to remove it.

Cleaning pruning shears

Once the dirt has been removed, dry the tools carefully with a clean cotton rag to prevent tools from rusting.

If you have some neglected tools, you need to put in a bit more work to remove rust and any caked on dirt.

Removing Rust

Rusty tools need special attention, but with the right tools for the job it shouldn’t be a problem.

I use a small wire brush for my pruning tools to remove heavier rust coatings from the steel surface, and a 300-grit dry sandpaper or steel wool to brush up the blades.

For neglected garden tools with a massive coat of rust, use a drill with a wire brush attachment to get rid of it.

Once the cleaning and rust-removing jobs are done, we are ready to sharpen the garden tools.

Sharpening Garden Tools

Unfortunately, the resharpening of garden tools is often neglected. This work makes the least effort if it is carried out regularly.

For my pruning tools and knives, I always use a honing stone, while other tools like shovels or axes are best sharpened with a hand file.

For pruning tools, I dismantle them to get a better reach; then I slide a honing stone in one direction across the pruning tool's beveled edge until I reach the desired sharpness. 

You may find other tool sharpeners easier to use. To get good results for pruning shears and knives, there are several garden tool sharpeners on the market to make the job easier for those, who do not get used to honing stones.

No matter which device you choose to care for your cutting blades, sharpening garden tools should become a regular task to keep them in top shape and maximize their functionality and effectiveness.

I use WD40 machine oil, to wipe down all the joints and blades. Oil adds protection against rust and makes your tools smooth-running.

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