101: garden tool care and storage

September 23rd, 2016

Full disclosure: I was the WORST when it came to caring for my gardening tools.

And it showed – my beautiful pruners and shears eventually turned stiff, rusty and virtually useless.

When I purchased a new set a number of years ago I made a promise to myself – and my tools – to take proper care. And it’s paid off.


As I’m getting ready to shut the gardens down for winter, here’s what I do with my gardening gear!


Things¬†you’ll need:


  • Plain steel wool
  • Gardening gloves (or latex gloves) to protect your hands
  • Mineral oil
  • Lubricant spray
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Alcohol swabs (not essential, but handy)
  • Soft rags
  • Sharpener
  • Clean sand
  • Containers for storage (I use an old loaf pan for smaller tools and a large pot for the longer ones)

Here’s what to do:

Wipe or brush off all the loose dirt (a toothbrush is handy for tight spots).

Use steel wool to remove any stubborn patches and/or rust.

Wipe down the blades with alcohol swabs or a rag dipped in alcohol – this cleans and disinfects.

Use the sharpener to sharpen all pruners, shears and scissors.

Spray pruners and shears with lubricant spray – use a cloth dipped in alcohol to remove any excess from handles.

Fill your containers with sand and pour some mineral oil in. Mix well; the consistency should be that of damp sand like you’d find at the beach.

Plunge your tools in and store for the winter!


While not the must fun or glamorous gardening task, it is satisfying to look at all of my clean, sharpened and oiled tools – safely stored away for winter. And it feels even better come spring, when I pull them out of storage, knowing that they’re ready to go.

Have a great weekend!

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