Good quality garden tools can last a lifetime with ongoing basic care. When you find a tool that works really well, it’s worth taking the time to maintain it.
Confused by pruners? This shows you how to decide which pruner is best for the jobs in your garden.
Making Garden Tools Last a Lifetime
No two gardeners seem to prefer the same tools: it depends on what you’re growing, how you like to work, and the type of maintenance your garden requires.
But there’s one thing we all come to realize: cheap garden tools are cheap garden tools—more often than not, you get what you paid for.
Once you know which tools you like, start investing in the best ones you can afford and take the time to keep them in good shape. You’ll not only save a lot of money but have a collection of treasured tools to rely on throughout your gardening years.
Years ago I realized my tools would not last unless I made time to properly care for them. This means stopping early after a long day in the garden to get everything clean, sorted, and put back in its place.
Besides keeping the tools in good condition, it’s very nice to have the tools ready to go next time.
Related: See my DIY Garden Tool Shed
4 Tips For Best Garden Tool Care
1Make Them Stand Out
Brands like Fiskars have bright orange markings which make them highly visible in the garden, but some brands and older tools do not. If they are good tools, it’s easy to make them more noticeable with paint or tape.
- Paint the ends of the tool handles so they stand out in the garden.
- Or, mark them with a distinctive color of duct tape.
We all misplace garden tools now and then—sometimes finding them in the compost pile years later—but it’s awful to lose a great one permanently.
- After use, scrub off dirt under garden hose.
- Rinse in diluted household bleach (4 teaspoons bleach per quart or liter of water for at least one minute) if necessary.
- Dry thoroughly.
This can both prevent the spread of disease between plants and prevent corrosion.
- Before storing your tools, be sure they are both clean and dry.
- Store tools hanging up. See how I create tool hangers (below).
If every tool has a designated place, you’ll notice what’s missing at the end of your gardening day.
This could be an annual task or more often if your tools get a lot of use.
- Protect wooden handles with boiled linseed oil.
- Tighten loose screws.
- Lubricate moving parts with 3-in-1 oil or WD-40.
- Sharpen – learn to do it yourself or take tools with dull or nicked blades to professional sharpener.
Painting tool handles and making hangers
Drill holes through top of wooden handles. Position the hole so that bulky rake heads will hang parallel to the wall.
3Edge With Painter’s Tape
4Paint End of Handle
Use an exterior (outdoor) primer-paint combination product or stain suitable for wood surfaces.
You can also add a protective coat of outdoor polyurethane or a similar product if you want the paint to remain pristine. I don’t bother with this.
5Add Stencil (Optional)
Nerdy idea: I created a simple leaf stencil with cardstock and used white spray paint. Allow to dry.
6Add Hanging Wire
7Hang With Cup Hooks
My black and white tool handles are easy to see in the garden plus they match my stenciled wheelbarrow and lawnmower, of course. It was worth doing it just to see how it made my husband laugh!
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛