In New Hampshire, spring is around the corner and it’s time to prune many trees and shrubs. But before you start cutting (and digging, when the soil warms), make sure your tools are clean. If you didn’t clean your tools last fall, it’s not too late to do it now.
- Remove dried soil from shovels, spades, pruners, loppers, shears, etc. Use water, or soap and water, to accomplish your task. Dry tools thoroughly before storing. If you want to remove sap and soap and water don’t work, rub the sap with a rag dipped in a little paint thinner.
- Rub off rust spots with steel wool or, for bigger surfaces, a wire brush.
- Sharpen pruners, scissors, and knives with a small whetstone so that you can take care of small pruning jobs quickly. Take larger tools to a pro or sharpen them yourself.
- Wipe metal parts with penetrating oil, or spray them with cooking oil in a pinch. Tighten up screws, and apply lubricating oil to joints and springs.
- Store tools properly. Hang large hand tools such as brooms, rakes, spades, and shovels to protect bristles, tines, and blades. Keep small tools like pruners and trowels away from moisture and off the ground. Laying them flat in a raised box or tool kit works well.
Good gardening tools are an investment. They last longer with proper care, and preparing now will make your spring tasks easier to do.