Preparing your garden tools for winter storage

Don’t make the mistake of throwing your gardening tools in the shed over the winter and think that’s it. Take some time and care with your gardening tools before storing them for the winter, to save you time and money next year.

When you know you have sown the last seed, picked up the last leaf and turned the last flower bed, you know it’s time to put you gardening tools away for the winter. 

Before putting everything away, first take the time to clean the garden shed. First remove all your gardening tools from the shed. Sweep away any loose grass and dirt to ensure that the dust does not clog any of your machines when the dust settles when being stored over the winter. 

Before you throw everything back into the shed, follow some basic advice or risk having to face some disastrous consequences next year. 

1. Battery power tools

Battery powered gardening tools, like hedge and grass trimmers should have the batteries removed and stored indoors in a cool dry place over the winter. It is a common misconception that batteries retain all their charge even when not in use. This is not the case. Batteries slowly lose charge over time when not in use. If they are not fully charged before being stored for long periods, it may result in the battery entering a state known as ‘discharge’. 

When a battery enters a state of discharge it means that no matter how long you try and charge the battery for it will not retain any charge preventing it from being used. Before storing your battery equipment always read the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that it is stored correctly. Some batteries are also susceptible to the extreme cold like those found in sheds or garages over the winter. It is advised that you should store the batteries of your garden tools inside your house in a cool, dry and safe place until you need them again in the spring.

2. Grass trimmers

When packing away your grass trimmer don’t simply throw everything back in the box and store it. First remove the spool and line from your trimmer. When subjected to cold conditions the nylon trimming line that is used on most grass trimmers can go very brittle. This results in it frequently snapping when you go to use it in the spring / summer. Instead of storing the trimming line in the shed or garage, remove it and store it in a safe cupboard in the house out the way. The additional heat will prevent the line from becoming brittle and avoid you having to buy more line next year.

If for some reason it does become brittle, you could try leaving the spool and line in a small sealed plastic bag with a little water overnight. This will enable the line to absorb some water helping the line become a little more flexible. 

3. Lawnmower maintenance 

Your lawnmower is probably one of the most expensive pieces of gardening equipment you will buy. That’s why it is especially important that you take good care of it. Before storing it for the winter, remove any residual grass clippings from underneath the machine. Ensure the lawnmower is unplugged if electrical, or the spark plug if you have a petrol mower.

This will prevent rust (if metal) and avoid any problems next year with the blades jamming or the lawnmower from overheating. Now is also a good time to also sharpen the lawnmowers blade. A good lawnmower should always have a sharp blade to prevent you from tearing the grass from the lawn and damaging it. If you cannot sharpen the blade using a file, you should consider purchasing a new one so that it's ready to use next year. 

4. Petrol gardening tools 

If you have any petrol powered gardening tools like lawnmowers or hedge trimmers, before you store it away for the winter you need to drain any fuel from the machine. Failure to do this will result in the fuel going stale and could mean that your petrol machine may not start in the spring. Using stale fuel can cause significant damage to your engine and can result in costly repair bills.

The reverse is necessary for the oil. Make sure that your petrol machines are topped up and in good working order using a high quality oil. Always check the manufactures instructions to find the recommended oil for your machine. 

5. Sharpen your tools 

An easy way to save money in the long run is to sharpen your cutting tools before you put them away from the winter. Over the summer your hedge cutters etc. will have become worn and less efficient to use. By using a suitable file and sharpening them it will ensure that your jobs in the garden remain just as quick next year as they were this. 

6. Prevent rust 

Check your garden tools for any signs of rust. If you find any, use a piece of sandpaper and gently rub it off. Lightly spray the metal surface any garden tools you have with a suitable lubricant to prevent them from rusting. For example your hedge trimmer blades. Turn them on and run them for a couple of minutes to ensure that the oil reaches everywhere that it needs to go. The same is also recommended for garden tools like spades and trowels. 

7. Store your garden hose and watering tools

Bring in your garden hose from the garden and store it somewhere suitable to prevent the winter frost from cracking the hose pipe and any reels or connectors. Drain any excess water and check for cracks and repair if necessary. 

Where to buy

You can buy spare trimmer line, batteries and lawnmower blades on the Official Flymo WebShop. There you can also find a range of great deals when buying a brand new Flymo. 

The Flymo WebShop can be found at www.shop.flymo.co.uk

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