Colder weather is settling into the Cape Fear region, which means it’s time to stow away your lawn and garden tools for a few months. Harsh winter conditions take a toll on equipment, but you can keep it working like new by following these Turf Medic suggestions!
Items like lawn mowers, hedge and string trimmers, garden tillers, and chainsaws require the most work to winterize. Turf Medic recommends the following for these tools:
Empty the fuel tank or add a fuel stabilizer.
Alcohol in fuel can degrade plastic and rubber parts over time, in addition to causing rust to form in and around the tank. To protect against this type of damage, ensure the gas tank is empty by running it down or draining it, or add a fuel stabilizer to the reservoir.
If you opt to use a fuel protectant, run the engine for a few minutes after adding it to be certain the stabilizer mixes with the fuel already in the tank. Once you’ve done this, shut off the engine and top the tank off with gas.
Lubricate moving parts to help prevent rust.
Remove the engine’s spark plug and add approximately one ounce of oil to the cylinder. Gently pull the starter cord, distributing oil throughout the equipment’s moving parts and replace the spark plug when you’re finished.
Perform routine maintenance.
Spark plugs should be checked at the end of each gardening season and changed after approximately 25 hours of use. You’ll also want to check the filters. Paper filters will need to be replaced, but foam filters can be washed with soapy water and reinstalled.
Change the oil on your equipment as well, following the manufacturer’s directions for your specific model. Doing this will help ensure better performance and preserve the lifespan of the engine.
Clean outside surfaces and sharpen the blades.
Before you begin this step, disconnect the battery and spark plugs. This is a necessary precaution to ensure the device you are working on doesn’t start accidentally.
Remove debris that has accumulated in exhaust vents, and wipe down all outside surfaces, scraping off caked-on dirt or rust with a putty knife. Then, gently turn your lawn mower on its side and spray the mower deck off with a hose.
Sharpen the blades and cutting edges and when you are finished, replace the spark plugs, but leave the battery disconnected until you’re ready to use it again.
Choose a safe storage area.
Be careful not to keep gas-driven machines next to anything with a pilot light, like furnaces and water heaters, as this can be dangerous. If you’re storing your lawn mower on a concrete floor, you may want to place a plastic tarp underneath it to help prevent moisture from corroding the underside.
Hand Tools, Garden Sprayers, and Hoses
Manual tools, sprayers, and hoses don’t require a great deal of maintenance; you can prepare them for storage in just a few steps.
Clean surfaces and correct imperfections.
For handheld tools like shovels, rakes, and shears, inspect the metal and wooden parts for dirt, rust, and damage. Clean dirt off with a stiff-bristled brush, remove rust with sandpaper or steel wool, and smooth cracks and splinters in wood with medium-grit emery cloth or sandpaper.
Sharpen blades and condition surfaces.
Wearing heavy gloves, use a whetstone or file to sharpen metal cutting edges and smooth out nicks. If you don’t have sharpening tools at your disposal or are nervous to perform this step on your own, your local garden center or hardware store may be able to take care of this service for you. When you’ve finished, apply a light coat of oil or WD-40 to metal surfaces and rub wooden handles with linseed oil to condition and protect them.
Wash sprayers and store chemicals.
Clean garden sprayers with soapy water and a sponge, ensuring you run the mixture through the lines as well, then rinse with clean water and let your equipment dry completely before putting it away. This is also a great time to find a spot to store chemicals where they won’t freeze over the winter months.
Drain and repair garden hoses.
Remove hose nozzles and drain them completely. Then, check for leaks and repair them with flex tape, glue, or a patch kit. To store, coil the hose to keep it from getting kinks and hang it off the ground.
In general, all lawn and garden equipment should be housed in a covered shed or garage where it’s shielded from the elements, helping to prevent rust, water damage, and corrosion. We recommend you always wear protective gear when cleaning dirt and rust and working around blades and sharp edges. You should also be careful to follow the instructions in your equipment’s owner’s manual when performing maintenance procedures. It will have specific guidelines and safety precautions to ensure you don’t injure yourself or damage your equipment.
Turf Medic knows spring will be here in no time. By following these tips, you’ll be ready to show your yard some love at the first signs of warmer weather!