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Clean and maintain gardening tools, gear
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If you don’t plan to plant a fall garden, inspect, repair and clean your gardening tools before storing them for the winter.

"As a gardener, nothing is more frustrating than to pull gardening tools out in the spring and find hoes that are rusty or broken, a tiller that won’t crank, or an irrigation system with a blown gasket," said Bob Westerfield, a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension consumer horticulturist.

Tony Johnson, the horticulturist at the UGA Research and Education Garden in Griffin, agrees. Johnson helps UGA scientists maintain their research plots. And he does so on a limited state budget.

"Gardening tools and supplies are expensive," Johnson said. "With a little care and forethought, you can help your tools last from season to season."

The two UGA professional gardeners offer the following checklist to follow before packing away garden tools for the winter.

Shovels, hoes and other tools

Thoroughly clean all tools with soap and water.

Sharpen blades and tool edges.

Clean metal parts with steel wool, wipe dry and apply a light coat of cooking oil.

Smooth wooded handles by sanding them with sand paper. Then coat handles in linseed oil or paint them to preserve wood.

Store rakes with the teeth pointing down. Stepping on an exposed rake can be very dangerous, for children and adults.

Tomato cages

Clean off tomato cages and stack them out of the way.

Repair any cages that have been damaged.

Tiller and mower

Empty the garden tiller of fuel or add a fuel stabilizer.

Check the spark plugs, change the oil and clean the air filter.

Clean the underside of the mower’s deck with a pressure washer and scrape off any old grass and debris.


Fertilizer or pesticide sprayers should be triple-rinsed with water or a little ammonia.

Check the hose tip for debris before storing the sprayer for the season.

If you are in the market for new garden tools or you want to see what is new for the upcoming season, be sure to come by the eighth annual Hall County Master Gardeners’ Fall Garden Expo. There will be approximately 35 vendors on hand selling everything from tools and garden art to trees and shrubs.

The Expo is Sept. 23-24 at the Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center. Admission is only $2 for the best garden show in North Georgia. There will be gardening demos, a children’s booth and workshops, so there will be something for the whole family to enjoy.

Taking a little bit of time and following these tips will ensure a quick and hassle-free start to your planting season in the spring.

Adapted from Georgia FACES News Service. Written by Sharon Dowdy, News Editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, His column appears weekly and on

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