A shed is an excellent place to store garden tools: safe, secure and dry – and having your tools in a shed means that you don’t need to bring any messy implements into your home. However, if you want your tools to be long-lasting and reliable it’s not enough simply to leave them in the shed, they still need to be looked after and maintained.

With the right level of care your tools can last you many years of productive gardening, be they simple spades and trowels, or heavy duty pressure washers and lawnmowers. Each tool has its own vulnerabilities, and it pays to know how the implements in your shed can be spared from long-term damage and the negative effects of wear and tear.

Here are some of the most important garden tools, with some handy hints on keeping them well maintained during the time they spend in your tool shed.

Spades and Forks

These are essential items for any gardener, and with an eye on their upkeep, there’s no reason why good quality spades and forks shouldn’t last you a very long time. The better tools have stainless steel blades and prongs, which will need to be kept free from rust by cleaning with a wire brush. It’s also a good idea to give the metal parts of spades and forks a wipe with an oily rag before you store them in your shed. This will help to eliminate the onset of rust. It’s a quick treatment, and if it’s done regularly, it really works!

Cutting Tools

Implements which come under this category include secateurs, shears, hoes and loppers – all vital tools for gardeners. A cutting tool is only as good as its blade, and keeping them sharp over a long period is important. A fine sharpening stone, obtainable from any garden store, lubricated with a little oil is the best means of sharpening a blade. Remember: only sharpen the outside blade of bypass secateurs, and the upper surface of a hoe. As with spades and forks, it pays to wipe the metal with an oily rag before storing in order to prevent rust.

Lawnmowers

A lawnmower can easily become clogged with grass and dirt which, if left, can damage its blades and make it less effective. Most debris can be removed with a little water and a scraper. Of course, if you have an electric mower, make sure it is unplugged before you do any cleaning. If your mower runs on fuel, it is advisable to run down the fuel before storing over winter, and to change the machine oil so that it is ready for spring.

Power Tools

Before storing power tools make sure that the plugs and flexes are undamaged and in good working order. The key to pressure washer maintenance, as with a mower, is to make sure there isn’t any fuel left before storing. Also, don’t leave any water in the machine for long periods of time, particularly over winter: this is the single biggest cause of damages to pressure washers. For all power tools, any serious damage should be repaired professionally.

Images courtesy of GardenersWorld.com and PressureWasher.co.uk