by BRIAN MINTER
October 30, 2006
When it comes to putting all our gardening equipment away for the winter, only about 25 percent of us do it properly and that is probably a very generous estimate. To be honest, I’m one of the 75 percent who don’t effectively winterize all the equipment that makes gardening so much easier.
First in order is a thorough cleaning of all lawn mowers. grass contains acids that corrode, so it is important to carefully scrape off the underside of your mower. Spraying the underside with a household spray like ‘Pam’ is a great way to protect the metal overwinter. There are also oil sprays that can be applied to prevent rusting.
Next, the mower’s blades should be taken off, sharpened and balanced. If you know what you are doing, you can do it yourself, but for most folks, it’s probably better to have the job done by a professional.
Changing the mower’s oil in fall is very important. Dirty oils also contain acids that can cause internal corrosion. A special mist oil should be sprayed on the carburetor and valve rings while the mower is running to prevent rust in those areas as well. It is also a great idea to drain the gas out of the tank and once that is done, the mower is ready to be stored away in a dry location for winter.
Rototillers and other gardening equipment should be treated the same way. In addition to this care, all that is required for most ride-on mowers is the removal of the battery, which, by the way, should be charged every two months. The many types of weed and brush cutters should be cleaned up thoroughly too.
Electric and manual shears and clippers should be cleaned and then sharpened. It only makes sense to do it now while the equipment dealers are not quite as frantic as they are in the spring. There are also rust preventative sprays that should be applied now to keep them in good shape. I think the same is true for all our trowels and long handled shovels and forks.
I’m afraid many of us take our tools and other garden equipment too much for granted. Quality garden tools cost money, and it only makes sense to look after them. With a little care at the end of the season, we’ll not only save money but also eliminate a great deal of frustration with machines that won’t start or don’t run well. Part of proper maintenance is having all of our tools in good shape to do the job well, so take the time to winterize your equipment and tools now. Next spring, when your mower purrs on the first start, you’ll be glad you did.