Keeping Lawn and Garden Tools in Shape
Get tips on keeping your garden tools rust-free, sharpened and mechanically sound.
Just like your car, if you ignore your lawn mower during the winter season you'll have problems come spring. In addition to reading your owner's manual for maintenance guidelines, here are some general pointers from John Deere to get your mower in order:
Check oil and fluids. On your to-do list should be checking the oil, replacing the filter and changing the transmission fluid and engine coolant. Also, drain and replace the fuel, which can break down over the winter and cause hard starting.
Sharpen and balance blades. Taking care of your blades will in turn take care of your lawn. With sharp blades you'll make clean cuts and reduce the possibility of fungus and disease.
Inspect belts for wear. Adjust the tension of belts as needed. If you notice cracks or separation in the belt, it's time to get a replacement.
Check tire tread and pressure. Tires in good shape will help you maneuver on uneven terrain and prevent the risk of slipping on hillsides.
Use a bicycle tire pump to inflate the tire with the proper pressure. Tired of flat tires? Opt for The Carefree Tire (www.carefreetire.com). It's airless, lightweight and guaranteed to never go flat. If the tire is inflated, but the wheelbarrow is still a chore to push, squirt some lubricant onto the wheel's axle and wipe off the excess.
To keep pruners in good condition throughout spring, only use them to cut branches. FELCO, a Swiss manufacturer of professional pruners and shearers, also recommends the following:
- Get in the habit of cleaning the blade with a dry cloth after every use.
- Oil the spring and revolving handle shaft often. Oiling the blade after every use will also prevent rust.
- Sharpen the blade before you begin to need more effort to cut branches.
- Adjust cutting and anvil-blade alignment when the cut is no longer clean.
Chainsaws require the most maintenance of any seasonal tool, which means regular maintenance — either by a professional or yourself — is necessary to keep it in working condition. Master gardener Paul James recommends the following each time you rev your saw:
- Ensure the tank is properly filled.
- Check for an approved lubricant in the chain oil tank.
- Verify the chain tension is consistent with the manufacturer's recommendations.
- Carefully follow your owner's manual for any specific maintenance needs and help keep the saw in shape by steering clear of rocks and other unforgiving materials.
If you drained your hose and disconnected the valve fittings before the cold winter months, chances are your hose has survived potential freezing and cracking. Stretch it out in the sun to get it flexible and ready for its first car wash of the spring. Now is the time to invest in a garden reel if you don’t have one already: Coiling your hose helps to prevent leaks and breakage.
Trowels and Shovels
- Prep your hand tools for the spring planting season with these easy tune-ups:
- Coat clean metal surfaces with vegetable oil to prevent rust formation.
- Rub wooden handles with boiled linseed oil to prevent drying and cracking.
- Stroke a metal file along the angle of the blade to sharpen it.
While we can't tell you how to avoid annoying your neighbors — beyond waiting until the afternoon to start your dirty work — we can tell you how to prep your blower for the season. Grounds Maintenance magazine recommends checking the muffler, air intakes and air filters to make sure they're in proper condition. To minimize noise and maximize control, always operate the blower on the lowest speed necessary for the job.