If you just throw your gardening tools outside against a fence, they won't last more than a couple seasons. Here's how to organise and care for your gardening tools, so they take care of you for years to come.
Gardening tools of all types should be stored in a cool, dry place. Moisture is the main cause of rust and rot on your tools, but the sun and heat can also cause handles to warp and crack.
Outdoor power equipment is also sensitive to the elements and should never be left exposed to the sun or rain. Plastic cables and rubber grommets can break down in the summer and exposed metal and sensitive engine parts can rust and make it difficult to start.
How to Clean and Care for Your Tools
Before putting away any outdoor tools, you should clean them of all mud and dirt clumps, which hold moisture. If needed, rinse your tools and use a wire brush to scrub and remove excess dirt. You can remove sap from tools with turpentine, and remove rust with vinegar.
Extend the life of your wood handles by regularly applying linseed oil. This will prevent them from cracking and splintering and also protect them from water and moisture.
You can also apply linseed oil or WD-40 to metal tools to protect them from rust. Apply 3-in-1 oil to pivot points of shears and loppers.
How to Store Your Tools in the Garage
Garages store much more than our cars, and have become de facto workshops and closets that stockpile everything that is unfit to keep indoors. Gardening equipment and outdoor tools fit this category, but you need a proper way to store them so they don't get damaged or cause a tripping hazard.
It's best to keep gardening tools off the ground, which means you need to make use of whatever wall space you have. Most gardening tools have a hole in the end of the handle so it can be slipped over a nail in a stud. If there's no hole, just drill one.
You can also buy clips and brackets designed keep tools secured against a wall. This garden tool hanger is only 1.2 metres in length and can store multiple tools on each hook. Modular systems like Gladiator Garage (shown above) use brackets attached to wall-mounted tracks which give you many more options when hanging tools. They have also got hanging baskets which are great for storing smaller tools like trowels, cultivators, and pruning shears.
Alternatively, the video below shows a cheap and easy solution using wood strips and nails. Eventually the nails will loosen, but as a short-term solution it works to get your tools off the ground.
No Room in the Garage? Try a Shed
Backyard sheds are a great for storing gardening tools in one place. Rakes and shovels stored in a garage can get bumped and fall onto you or your car. When safely stowed in a shed, gardening tools are out of the way but still easily accessible.
There are a lot of DIY plans for sheds available online, including these from the Family Handyman and Popular Mechanics. YouTube is also a great resource for shed builds including this series from House-Improvements.
If you're handy you can find used sheds on Gumtree but you often need to disassemble and remove them yourself.
Once you've got your shed up, use the same hanging tool method to keep your yard tools off the ground. Place your shed in area that won't get flooded and consider placing it on a raised platform.
Lifehacker's Workshop column covers DIY tips, techniques and projects.