How To Maintain, Clean and Winterise Garden Tools

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:24 pm

When the garden is ready for winter, it is time to put the helpful garden tools into hibernation. To make sure they survive the break well, you need to take care of the garden tools, check them thoroughly and clean them if necessary before storing them in the garage or shed. Here are some tips on how to get hedge trimmers, digging forks, spades, lawn mowers and the like through the cold season in one piece. If everything is well looked after, you can quickly get going again in spring!

Maintaining and cleaning garden tools

The large and small garden tools are easy to care for. First, clean them thoroughly with water. Stubborn dirt, soil and rust on the metal parts are removed either with a root brush, wire brush or steel wool. For the wooden or plastic handles, a sponge is usually sufficient.

How To Maintain, Clean and Winterise Garden Tools

Check whether the handle is still tight or possibly damaged. Damaged handles must be replaced, loose handles are fixed with wooden or iron wedges. If necessary, sand down wooden tool handles that have become rough with very fine sandpaper. Afterwards, the wooden parts can be coated with a wood oil so that they do not dry out.

Before storage, all metal parts – with the exception of stainless steel – are greased or oiled. This protects them from possible corrosion. Biodegradable protective oils such as Ballistol are suitable for this purpose. You can also use a simple vegetable oil from the kitchen instead. For high-quality stainless steel garden tools, oiling or waxing is not necessary.

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Caring for garden tools: Preparing cutting tools

When wintering garden shears, hedge trimmers and other cutting tools, you should, if possible, dismantle the individual parts of the tools and clean them individually. However, only dismantle garden tools if you are confident enough to do so. You cannot cut a hedge with 15 individual parts.

Plant debris, dirt and resin often hide in corners and joints that would be inaccessible without disassembly. You can easily remove this dirt with a cloth using olive oil, white spirit or benzine. Ideally, you can also use this moment to sharpen the blades or have them sharpened. Fine grinding stones (100 grain) are suitable for this purpose, which should be soaked in water for 1 – 2 hours beforehand. Alternatively, diamond files with a fine grit can be used (600 grit). If you have no experience with this, it is better not to grind expensive cutting tools yourself, but leave this fine work to a professional.

Now is also a good time to oil the individual parts and the movable joints. If disassembly is not possible, spraying with penetrating oil is recommended. This provides corrosion protection and guarantees that the joints move smoothly.

Store garden tools properly

If you regularly care for, clean and oil your garden tools, you can significantly extend the life of many garden tools. To ensure that the care work is not in vain, the garden tools must be stored protected from moisture during the rest period, for example in a shed or cellar room. Smaller tools can be wrapped in a cloth and packed away well. Stored in this way, pruning shears are immediately ready for use in the following gardening season. Various storage systems ensure order, whether hooks for hanging, shelves for storing or an extra tool cabinet.

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Winterising the lawn mower

The lawn mower also wants to get through the winter in good condition. First remove coarse dirt such as grass and soil residues with a stiff brush or a plastic scraper. Rust-prone elements and cleaned moving parts should be treated with oil. Any loose screws or protective covers should be tightened properly again with a screwdriver or spanner.

In the case of motor-driven implements, the tank should be emptied or run dry. Fuel can gum up and damage pipes if left standing for long periods. In addition, petrol loses its ignition capacity over the winter. It may even be necessary to change the oil or clean the air filter. All this work can of course be done by a specialist company and the blades can be sharpened at the same time. Afterwards, you should store your lawn mower in a frost-free, dry and covered place for the winter.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts. Jones James

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