Take care of your tools now and you'll save time and money in the long run. Here are a few clever tips for organizing and caring for your favorite garden tools as well as an idea to make gardening easier.
Tool edge gaurd
Pete Lange of Texas discovered this way to protect his sharp-edged tools so they don’t get nicked or chipped. He cut a piece of old garden hose the length of his hoe blade and slit it lengthwise with a utility knife. Then Pete just slid it onto the edge of the blade, where it stayed put on its own.
To protect round-point shovels, Pete slips a slit piece of hose over the cutting edge and holds it in place with a short bungee cord around the middle of the blade. In the photo above, you can see how both tools are protected.
Pete also helps with a community garden and needs to transport tools frequently. He says that not only do the pieces of hose protect the tool, they save his car’s upholstery.
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Wrap tools for a better grip
If you have problems with carpal tunnel syndrome, here’s a way to keep tools comfortable to grip: Wrap cotton clothesline rope tightly around a tool’s handle.
Use duct tape to hold the rope ends in place. Then spiral several layers of the tape around the rope-wrapped handle, overlapping it. For a larger grip, wrap the handle with clothesline more than once, continuing until you find a diameter that’s comfortable. Over time, the tape will slip, wear or get sticky. Just replace it or add a new layer.
See our list of adaptive tools to make gardening easier
To clean his tools, Marion Falco of New Mexico likes to use a mix of oil and sand. The gritty substance works well to get rid of sap and mud and treats tools with a coating of rust-preventing lubrication. But he didn’t want to contaminate his soil with petroleum-based motor oil.
So Marion filled a 5-gallon bucket full of builder’s sand and added 1 quart of new vegetable cooking oil, instead. Now he plunges dirty tools, up to the blade, straight into the sand, like in photo 5. Store the bucket in a cool place and cover it to keep the oil fresh. If it gets an unpleasant odor, simply change out the mixture.
Check out these must-have gardening tools for gardening
Helpful tool storage
Concrete block tool caddy
Tired of untidy piles of tools in the corners of her garage, Christine Stokol of New York stacked three concrete blocks to create a sturdy holder, like you see in the photo above left. The handle ends fit into the cores, while the blocks are heavy enough to hold tools without tipping.
Upcycled basketball hoop
Virginia Anthony of Oklahoma had an idea for getting new use out of an old basketball hoop. If you don’t have one, check garage sales or secondhand stores. Remove the net from the hoop, and screw it into a wall of the shed or garage about 4 ft. above the floor. Then set a clean, empty trash can underneath and feed in long-handled tools, such as rakes and hoes, just like the photo above.
See more clever upcycling ideas for your garden
Keep spiders out of your gloves
Patricia Haas from Illinois leaves her garden gloves where she needs them—out in the tool shed. But she did worry that spiders, especially poisonous ones, like the brown recluse, could climb inside before her next use. To ease her mind and avoid a bite, Patricia now clips a chip bag clip over both gloves’ cuffs, just like you see above, when she’s done gardening. The heavy spring keeps the gloves together without any point of entry.