Preparing garden tools and equipment for winter: What to look out for

prepare-garden-tools-for-winter During winter, your gardening tools are usually no longer needed. To start off the gardening year in spring; without having to do cumbersome repairs or spend money on replacements for unmaintained tools, you should prepare your garden tools in autumn before the first real frost. The preparation consists of cleaning, maintaining and possibly repairing the garden tools before winter storage. In this article we will show you what you definitely need to look out for.

1. Cleaning and maintaining garden tools

garden-tools-equipment-maintenance In order to prepare your garden tools for winter storage, you should clean and maintain them during the autumn months, ideally in October or November. All fall leaves, grass and mud residue needs to be removed from the tools with the help of a hand brush or a damp cloth. Persistent dirt and rust can be tackled with simple wire wool. Resin is easily removed with olive oil or with cleaning solvent.

Moveable parts should be dismantled; if possible, and cleaned with a soap containing detergent, water and wire brush. Once dried, tools and parts should be coated in protective oil, ideally spray oil.

While cleaning and maintaining motor-operated garden tools for winter storage, you should make sure they can not suddenly start while you are working on them. For electronic tools, ensuring the plug is pulled will suffice. Gasoline tools will have to have the spark plug removed. Battery-operated tools, such as the leaf blowers presented in our annual reviews, need their battery removed. When cleaning your lawnmower; or more specifically the mower housing, ensure that the appliance is tipped backward rather than to the side. Tipping it sideward will risk oil traveling to the air filter. It is also important to spare the motor and drive components while using spray oil.

Additional information for petrol-powered tools

Preparing petrol powered tools and machines for winter requires emptying of the tank before storing. Petrol can lose its ignitability throughout the long winter months in storage. E10 fuel also has a tendency to become resinous. To ensure a complete draining of the tank, simply pour out the fuel after the last use, then let the motor run “on fumes” until it turns off.

When cleaning and maintaining petrol-operated garden tools and machines, take advantage to check the air filter for wear and tear; and replace if necessary, as well as the oil filter. Should you not be sure which oil to use in a refill, simply check the users’ manual for the needed information. If the manual is nowhere to be found, a quick search on the Internet will give you the needed results.

2. Necessary repairs

During cleaning and maintenance, potential repairs should be taken care of. Seeing as your tools and machines will be taken apart to a certain extent, now is the ideal time to tighten or replace screws.

For lawnmowers, lawn trimmers and hedge trimmers, it is rather important to check the cutters and blades. Depending on how much use the tool has seen, the blades should be sharpened in order to achieve good results. Seeing as this is not particularly hard, most people tend to do this at home. Alternatively, you can have a specialist take care of that for you, for a reasonable price. Regarding the grass trimmer sometimes exchanging single blades is sufficient, at other times the entire trimmer head needs to be exchanged.

3. Storage and stowage

store-garden-tools-equipment After your garden tools and machines have been cleaned, maintained and possibly repaired, it is time to find a suitable winter storage. Usually a garage, basement or garden shed are ideal. The most important aspect is that all tools are protected from moisture and dust. It is advisable to vacuum the area before storing your tools and machines for winter. Tools, such as broom and spades should ideally be stored in a useful equipment holder.

Stowing of motor-operated garden tools and machines is a little more time consuming. Smaller units, such as grass trimmers should be stored in the original packaging; if it is still available. Alternatively, garden fleece can be used as protective cover. Medium sized motor-operated tools and machines, such as hedge trimmers, are best stowed in appropriate protective sheaths. Ideally, this sheath is filled with protective oil and hung on an equipment holder of a hook, for the tool to sit in throughout the long winter months. For storing of your medium-sized tools, a lockable equipment cabinet is often the best option for safety and protection. Large gardening tools and machines, such as lawnmower or lawn aerator, should be placed on cardboard; or even better, and insulating mat and covered with a tarp.

Requirements for storing lithium-ion batteries

When storing battery-operated gardening tools and machines, you need to remove the battery. Before storing the batteries, ensure that they are at approximately 40-50%. The batteries should be stored in a dry environment at a temperature of 41°F to 50°F (resp. 5°C to 10°C) – under no circumstances should the batteries be exposed to freezing temperatures. The batteries should also be protected from dust particles. Detailed information regarding battery storage can be found in the user’s manual.