Gardening and landscape tools can add up to a lot of money. And, the more we do to care and maintain them, the longer they'll last. Cleaning up your landscaping tools is a great way to close out the season.

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Cleaning Extends the Life of Tools

Good quality garden tools can last thirty or forty years, if you take care of them. Chuck Otte, an Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent with K-State Research and Extension, says a few minutes on a warm fall day is all it takes.

“To get the equipment cleaned up, all you need is a good steel brush, and then just go to work getting all the debris off. Once you get all the dirt and debris off, you’ll want to protect it from any rust during the year. All you need is a little bit of oil, and a paper towel. Squirt a little bit of oil on it, and wipe it down.”

Once the metal part of the tool is wiped down, it’s time to move on to the handle. Over time, wooden handles become rough and can leave splinters in your hand. A little work with fine grain sandpaper will do the trick.

“Once you’ve got it smoothed up, you’ll want to protect that wood from future weathering. It’s easily done. Just get a can of outdoor laquer or varnish. A spray can will work just fine. Spray it down, set it aside until it dries, and add a second coat. Then, when it’s dry, you can put it away, and you’re ready for next season with your piece of equipment.”

Power tools like weed trimmers, and lawn mowers need some attention, too. Your lawn mower is probably your single most expensive landscaping tool. Drain the oil and gas from the engine, clean off the top and the underside. Otte says, if you’d rather let a repair shop do it, fall or early winter couldn’t be better.

“You’re not worried about your grass out there continuing to grow. You don’t have to mow it. So, if it takes a couple to three weeks to get your lawn mower tuned up and ready to go, it’s not a problem. That way, you’re out mowing in the springtime, instead of being worried because your lawn mower is in the shop with everyone else’s, waiting to be worked on.”

So the next time you have a warm afternoon, take an hour or two to get your tools cleaned up for next year. It’s a great way to close out the growing season.

For more information, visit your local extension office, or visit our website.

This feature story prepared with Chuck Otte, Kansas State University Research and Extension Agent, Agriculture and Natural Resources. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at

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