Your tools are your best friends in the garden. They'll stand by you through thick and thin: they're the first things you reach for at times of trouble, and your companions through your greatest triumphs.
Well-made, good-quality tools like those you'll find in our garden centre can last you a lifetime if you take good care of them. So make it a part of your annual routine to spend an hour or two at the end of the season getting them in good shape before storing them away for the winter.
Give them a clean: let your stainless steel spades and forks dry for a few days so the mud is easier to brush off with a stiff-bristled hand brush. Get every last bit off including the mud wedged in to the neck of the tool head.
Repair any breakages: bent fork tines can be straightened with a piece of hollow metal piping: just slot it over the end of the tine and pull. Replacement wooden handles are available in our garden centre, and you'll also find spare watering can roses to replace the one you lost, and new blades for pruning saws.
Oil non-steel tools to prevent them rusting in damp weather. This can be as easy as wiping them over with a rag soaked in paraffin, or alternatively fill a bucket with sand and mix in some oil; then dig your tools into the sand to clean and oil them at the same time.
Hang everything up out of the way so they won't fall over into a hopeless tangle which you'll have to sort out before you can use them.. Hang spades, hoes, forks and rakes blade-upwards, on double nails banged into the wall, and add some single nails to hold hand trowels, forks, and shears.
Get powered tools serviced at a reputable garden machine company once a year, to change the oil, sharpen blades and generally give them the once over before they're back in regular use again.
Please ask the staff in our garden centre for more information and advice about looking after your garden tools.
Keeping Tools Sharp
Gardeners demand a lot of pruning tools, especially in winter when there are roses, clematis, apple trees and fruit bushes to do. There are other cutting tools in regular use, too: hedging and topiary shears, and blades you might not think of as blades like hoes and border spades, both of which need sharp edges to cut through the earth.
Keeping your tools razor-sharp is key to efficient working. Blunt tools take more effort to use, and worse, they can tear at branches rather than cutting them cleanly, causing snags and ragged edges that invite rots and other infections to set in. Hoes and spades, too, are far more effective if they're sharp enough to cut through obstacles rather than bludgeoning them with brute force.
You'll find all you need to keep your tools honed to perfection in our garden centre, from sharpening stones to specialist sharpening tools for curved blades such as secateurs. To use them well and get your tools cutting cleanly, follow our top tips:
Work out which side has the flat cutting surface: for bypass secateurs, this is the curving blade that scissors past the 'anvil' one. This is the edge you need to keep sharp.
Work at an angle of about 30° to the blade and run the sharpening stone along the angled side – if you look at the blade sideways on you'll find out which that is. Work from hinge to tip, always moving the stone away from you to avoid hurting yourself. Keep doing this for a few minutes and you'll find you have a rough edge forming on the underside as tiny shards of metal shear off.
Use a circular motion to gently remove this burr from the other side of the blade, though working flat to the blade this time as you don't want to take the edge off again.
Consider a professional tool-sharpening service for larger-bladed items like hedging shears or petrol-driven hedge trimmers. These only need doing around once a year and it's easier to get the professionals in.
Please ask the staff in our garden centre for more information and advice about sharpening gardening tools.