After your fall clean-up is complete for the year, it is time to winterize your tools so that they are sharp, sanitized, and easy to find come spring.
- Clean all soil and debris off tools.
- Sanitize tools, especially those that have been used on diseased plant material.
- Sharpen blades of hoes, pruners, spades, loppers, and saws.
- Make any necessary repairs.
- Organize tools and equipment so that it is easily accessible for spring.
Remove soil or vegetation from all tools using a wire brush, scraper or a strong stream of water. Wire brushes marketed to clean grills are handy because they usually include a scraper. Once everything has been cleaned and dried, lubricate all tool pivot points and springs. Finally, spray all bare metal parts and cutting edges with penetrating oil such as WD-40 to prevent rust.
When sanitizing garden tools, the usual ratio is a 10 percent solution or 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Using a 1 cup measuring cup, this would be 1 cup bleach to 9 cups water. Use a heavy solution of 3 parts bleach and 2 parts water to disinfect tools used on plants that are known to be diseased. Sanitizing once per year for tools such as shovel and hoes is sufficient, but tools such as pruners and loppers should be sanitized after each use. This process with help prevent the spread of fungus, disease, insects, and insect eggs.
Check all tools thoroughly for loose screws or nuts and tighten them accordingly. Replace or repair broken handles and other bent or broken parts. Wheelbarrows, carts and wagons may also need some attention before winter. Clean them thoroughly and touch up paint chips with spray paint to prevent exposed steel from rusting.
With your array of garden tools and supplies, the key to great garage storage and organization is getting things off the floor and onto the wall. A pegboard attached to a wall is a great place to store garden tools when not in use. Hardware stores and home improvement centers have a variety of hooks and wall brackets for tools of all shapes and sizes. Don’t forget the hoses and other watering aids. Before storing hoses, nozzles and other sprinkler attachments away for the winter, drain all the water from them and store in a dry location. Hose supports or reels prevent sagging and kinking. Regardless of your preferred storage method, having tools ready to go in the spring will make those early season chores that much easier.
Have a great Thanksgiving!
Rachael and Tobias
The telltale signs are here. First comes football season. Then the weather is absurdly amazing (we can dream that every autumn always starts out beautiful). Leaves start to fall. It is nearly time to give our landscape beds some attention.
After several hard frosts:
-Cut perennials back to soil level and remove debris.
-Consider which plants performed well and which did not. Make a note of any changes to be made it the spring.
-Remove debris from any annual plantings in the landscape.
-If we have a fall with limited rainfall, give the landscape a deep soak to prevent stress on the plants as they go into winter.
-Add a one inch layer of mulch to help conserve soil moisture and protect the root systems, especially for newly planted landscapes.
Removing debris such as leaves and other dead plant material from the landscape will prevent the spread of certain fungi that can overwinter on dead plant material and then continue to spread and infect new leaf tissue during the following spring. Taking the extra step to remove debris will also eliminate potential nesting areas created by unwanted critters.
You may want to consider leaving ornamental grass, coneflower, and black-eyed susan in the landscape over the winter months. Not only do they add structure and interest to the winter landscape, but they are also a food source for some native birds. If you decide to wait until spring to cut these perennials back, this should be done no later than mid- May to allow for the new growth to emerge.
Enjoy the Fall!
Rachael and Tobias
The temperatures are getting colder and the days of rain will soon be turning in to days of snow. Time to put away the lawn equipment and pull out the shovels and test out your snow blower. Before you put away your landscape equipment, it is a good idea to winterize them to ensure a longer life and make sure they are ready for your return next spring. Here are some helpful tips/ reminders brought to you by John Fech, a UNL Extension Educator.
Clean and sharpen garden tools before putting them away for winter to minimize rust and ensure that they are ready for use in the spring.
Remove soil, rust and other debris with a wire brush or steel wool. It may be necessary to dissolve accumulated sap and resin on some pruning tools with a solvent, such as kerosene, and to loosen the pivot bolt and separate the blades. Position the tool, using a bench vise or clamp if needed, so you can put the proper bevel on the cutting edge with a flat file or whetstone. Remove any metal burrs from the backside of the cutting edge with 300 grit wet/dry sandpaper when sharpening is completed. Finish with a light application of good quality oil to prevent rusting.
As you prepare your lawn mower and other tools for winter storage, don't forget to winterize your sprayers and fertilizer spreader. Smooth, dependable pesticide application next summer depends largely on the care and maintenance that sprayers and spreaders receive over the winter. Since the "pest season" is about over for this year, this is a good time to winterize your equipment.
Apply oil to the bottom of the hopper and all moving parts. Store the spreader with the shutter or gate fully open.
Compressed air sprayer tanks should be filled one-fourth full with mild dishwashing solution. Shake the sealed tank to loosen any spray residues. Pressurize the tank and spray out the water. Drain the tank upside down until thoroughly dry. Once dry, place a few drops of oil into the top of the pump cylinder. Pump the cylinder several times to coat the cylinder and valves with an oil film. Reassemble the sprayer before storing.
Nozzle tips and screens should be removed and cleaned with soapy water. Clogged nozzle tips should be cleaned with a sliver of wood or other soft object, not with wire. An old toothbrush, properly labeled as being meant for pesticide use and stored with the sprayer, works very well to clean spray residue and other deposits from nozzles. Store nozzle tips and screens in diesel fuel or kerosene to prevent corrosion.