How to Properly Care for Your Gardening Tools

Garden Tool Care & Sharpening

Well-cared for garden tools work better and last longer. In just a few minutes, a tool can be restored to like new condition and be made ready for the next use. Clean your pruner with a cleaning agent containing spirits. Lubricate the joints with, for example, maintenance oil.

Digging Tools (shovels, hoes, pitchforks, garden rakes, etc.):

  • Remove rust from neglected tools with a wire brush or an electric drill with a wire brush or sanding disc attachment.
  • Renew edges and points with a mill file.
  • After each use, clean with water and dry with a cloth. Apply a light coating of oil for storage.

Pruning Tools (hand pruners, loppers, hedge shears, etc.):

  • Clean blades after each use. Use rubbing alcohol or a solvent such as kerosene to remove sticky sap residue.
  • Prior to storage, apply a light coating of oil on joints and on exposed metal.

Pruning Tool Sharpening

Sharp pruning tools cut with less effort and the clean cuts from sharp tools promote faster plant healing. The easiest way to maintain the correct cutting angle on the blades is to color in the area to be sharpened with a black felt-tip pen before you start sharpening. Use a whetstone (available at any hardware store) and sharpen evenly until no trace of the ink can be seen on the blades.

Anvil Tools (wedge action cuts – best design for dry wood):

  • Sharpen only the blade, not the anvil, and sharpen both sides – use a file or whetstone.
  • Maintain the original bevel angle of the blade for best edge life.
  • Be sure not to change the shape of the blade so it will continue to seat flush against the anvil and provide clean cuts.
  • Technique – push away from the blade with file or sharpening tool.

Bypass Tools (blade “by passes” the hook – best design for green or growing wood):

  • Sharpen the blade on the outside edge only.
  • Maintain the same bevel angle of the blade for best edge life.
  • Technique – push away from the blade with a file or sharpening tool.
  • Remove the light burr that forms on the back (flat side) of the blade with a flat finishing stroke.

Scissors Action Tools (like hedge shears):

  • Some hedge shears have serrated blades that are self sharpening. For those that are not, special tools are required to match the curve of the serrations. This is best done by professionals.
  • If the blades are not serrated, sharpen both sides of each blade with the same technique as for bypass blades.


  • Some saws can be sharpened by hand, but it is difficult and may require special tools.
  • Most saws have replacement blades that cost less than professional sharpening.


  • If using a ladder, be sure of your footing.
  • Always wear safety glasses.
  • Always keep fingers and hands clear of blades and wear leather gloves.
  • Never cut near power lines.
  • Store out of reach of children.

How to Properly Care for Your Gardening Tools

If you have a garden, you already know how vital having the right garden accessories are. Once you have the right gardening tools for the job, you want to make sure that those tools stay in top shape as part of your gardeners supply case. Make your garden accessories, such as gardening tools, last a lifetime through caring for them properly.

By properly maintaining your garden tools on a regular basis, you ensure that they will be ready to go to work whenever you are. Continuous maintenance is also a key part of keeping your garden accessories for many extra years. Digging tools are an important part of any gardens supply. After each use, remove all of the soil from the tools. Although this usually doesn’t take much work, dried mud may have to be removed with a screwdriver.

For all your garden accessories, make sure that you never put them away while wet. By allowing them to dry completely prevents rust and handle rot. To help preserve your wooden handles, rub linseed oil into the handle once each gardening season. After each use of any gardening tool, wipe the metal parts with an oily rag. A gardeners supply isn’t complete without sharp cutting tools. Make sure the blades of shovels, spades and sharp cutting tools are sharpened each season. By taking these little steps, your gardening tools will last for years longer than if left uncared for and you’ll be able to spend that savings on other great items for your garden.