After a long summer season, the last thing on most people's mind is preparing their tools for winter storage. Whether you're keeping them in a shed, the garage or somewhere in the home, properly preparing them before putting them away is important. Especially if your tools are power tools.
Leaving fuel in the tank, grass on the blades or debris on the chassis over winter can turn out to be a very expensive mistake. Fuel stagnation and corrosion are two of the main culprits from improper preparation and storage. When properly maintained, electric and petrol-powered garden tools will last you for many years to come.
If you're one of those who are guilty of finishing up for the season and throwing your tools in a shed, you might just benefit from these simple tips for storing your tools during winter.
WHY YOU NEED TO STORE TOOLS OVER WINTER
If you've ever owned a bicycle (or splashed out on one for the kids) you probably already know how corrosive winter weather can be. We've all gone outdoors to get the bike in spring, only to find the chain and spokes rusted up, the brakes seized in position and the frame looking less than ideal. The same is true for your garden tools.
Unlike the warm, low-humidity summer months, winter can wreak havoc on metal and plastic. Early morning mist, afternoon fog, excessive rainfall and less sun all work against garden tools. This can be exasperated when they've been left with organic matter on them that oxidises and breaks down the surface.
Even if you've covered your tools with plastic sheeting to protect them from rain, plastic is no barrier to moisture. In fact, plastic sheeting can trap moisture inside your tools, leading to stress-inducing mechanical and electrical malfunctions - the last thing you want when the grass is tickling knees.
Before we take a look at the different steps to perform, here are some quick tips for garden tool storage for those short on time.
PREPARE YOUR TOOLS FOR STORAGE
As soon as you have got your lawn, tree's, shrubs, hedges and ground in order, it's time to prepare your garden tools for storage. Depending on the type of tools you have, you'll need to do different things.
Quick Petrol-powered Garden Tools Storage Guide
- Empty any remaining fuel from your petrol garden tools and store it in a Combi Fuel Can
- Top up the oil levels, changing it if it's looking a little worse for wear
- Startup your mower to burn off any excess fuel left in the carburetor
- Give the air filter a good clean, replacing it with a new one if needed
- Clean the chassis with a damp cloth, drying it thoroughly afterwards
- Sharpen blades, chains and knives and coat with mineral oil before storing them away
- Sand off any rust patches on metal parts and coat with protective oil
- Store tools away above ground level, preferably inside a case or under a tarpaulin
Quick Battery-Powered Garden Tools Storage Guide
- Disconnect the battery from the machine and put it on charge
- Once fully-charged, place it inside its storage bag and put it somewhere dry
- Give your tools a good clean with a damp cloth, avoiding excess moisture in and around the battery port
- Sharpen any blades or knives and polish them with general-purpose mineral oil
- Place your tools in a dry and warm place, safe from groundwater and high humidity
HOW TO CLEAN GARDEN TOOLS FOR WINTER
Keeping your garden tools nice and clean is the first step for better winter tools storage. You don't need to scrub until the surface starts being worn down - but you do want to be thorough. This means paying attention to all of those small joints, seals and hard to reach places.
Whether you're cleaning plastic, metal or rubber; a solution of warm water, a mild, PH-neutral detergent and a soft-bristle hand brush should do the trick. For harder to remove dirt, debris and caked-on grass a pressure washer and a vehicle cleaning kit will safely wash it away with minimal effort.
To start the cleaning process, first, remove any organic matter by hand (make sure the power is off and the safety latch is on before you get started.) A soft-bristled hand brush can help you get the grime off in seconds.
Next, inspect all of the cables, joints and hardware. Take a close look for corrosion, cracks, splits or loose parts and repair them as needed. If you're working on a lawnmower, remove the blades for sharpening and oiling.
Dip the hand brush into the warm water and detergent solution and use gentle circular motions from the top down. Baked on dirt will benefit from a good soaking and being left for ten minutes. Once you're happy that everything has been removed, rinse the tool down with clean, cold water.
Take a cloth and dry down as much of the tool as you can (a chamois cloth is ideal for this) and then leave it to air dry for the afternoon. Once everything is dry, apply mineral oil to any screws, bolts and blades and give the surface one last run down with a dry cloth.
Your garden power tools are now ready to be safely stored away over winter.
THE BEST MATERIALS FOR COVERING GARDEN TOOLS
We have already touched on why plastic is not the best choice for covering your garden tools. So what other options do you have? The best type of covering is one that is water-impermeable yet breathable, such as a canvas or water-proofed cotton cover.
Airflow plays an important part in preventing oxidization. It also helps keep things nice and dry. The last thing you want is humidity to build up around your tools, causing corrosion and rust to set in.
For metal parts, such as lawnmower blades, brush cutter knives and chainsaw chains; an old towel will be the perfect material to store them in. It will absorb any moisture while providing a protective layer from any accidental damage from falls or knocks.
Where possible, you should try to use a storage bag designed for your tools. As an example, Husqvarna chainsaws will benefit from being kept in a dedicated Husqvarna Chainsaw Bag. Likewise, batteries will perform better when kept in an appropriate battery bag or battery box.
Newspaper is a popular choice for storing blades, knives and chains. Unfortunately, it doesn't provide much protection against humidity and can actually contribute to oxidisation. This is partly down to its water-retaining properties and partly due to the chemicals used to treat the paper. Obviously, as a last resort, it’s better than leaving them outdoors uncovered. But where possible, it should be avoided.
WHERE TO STORE GARDEN TOOLS OVER WINTER
The best place to store your garden tools over winter will largely depend on your available space. A heated garage will always be the best choice, as it provides a safe place to keep your tools. Ideally, you want to protect them from as much moisture, damp and excessively cold weather as possible.
If you don't have a garage, a shed will work equally as well. If moisture is a common occurrence, investing in a dehumidifier can go a long way with preserving your tools.
If you don't have an inside place to keep your tools, then you will definitely want to invest in some covers for them. A simple lean-to structure against a protected wall will provide ample protection from rain, wind and UV. If you need to store your lawnmower outdoors, placing it on house bricks will keep it from sitting in puddles.
The last option is to invest in an outdoor storage unit. These are typically constructed from a solid plastic shell with front-opening doors. The great thing about these is that they not only keep your tools safe from theft - but also in an enclosed space away from the harsh winter weather.
GETTING YOU WINTER-READY
At Husqvarna, we have all of the tools, accessories and storage cases for keeping your tools safe this winter. Don't let the miserable weather damage your garden equipment - keep them safe and protected so you can get back to work come spring. Want to know more? Contact your local Husqvarna dealer.