The Ultimate Guide to Garden Tool Storage and How to Clean Garden Tools


Having garden tool storage is important when keeping your garden space clean as well as cleaning garden tools. When I was cleaning out my gardening shed recently, I started to think about a better way that I could clean and store my tools. So, I put together a comprehensive guide to make the entire process more safe and convenient.

How should you clean and store gardening tools? All gardening tools should be washed and dried thoroughly immediately after use as well as disinfected and sanitized if needed. They should always be stored in a clean and dry location to avoid unnecessary damage.

Many people do not realize how important it is to keep gardening tools clean and stored in an appropriate location. However, these processes are vital to the quality of the tools and will directly determine how long they will last before needing replacement.

The Different Types of Gardening Tools and Their Purposes

While completing the tasks of building and maintaining any kind of garden, there will be a long list of tools involved that serve different purposes. One of the most common and helpful gardening tools is a basic gardening shovel.

A shovel is a tool that is used for digging into the ground and moving large amounts of heavy materials, such as rocks or gravel,  to different locations in the garden. A garden shovel has four parts: the grip, handle, collar, and blade.

Attached to the long handle, the grip is located at the very top of the shovel and is held by the gardener. The handle is the extended piece that is usually the shape of a very narrow cylinder that holds the blade of the shovel at the opposite end of the grip.

The collar is the area in which the blade is securely attached to the bottom of the handle. The blade, located at the very bottom of the tool is commonly made of metal or plastic. The flat area of the blade that is closest to the collar is also known as the step.

This portion of the blade is called the step because the gardener can place their foot on top of it and force their body weight onto it, which will help them to dig the shovel deeper into the soil. This makes it much easier to dig into the ground rather than trying to force the shovel using arm strength only.

There are several different types of gardening shovels that come in various shapes and sizes and fulfill their own purposes. Around-point shovel has a sturdy and durable blade with a rounded point at the end, which makes it easy to cut into the soil without much effort. This shovel should be used for tasks that require a lot of repetitive digging.

The most basic kind of shovel that can be used in a garden for almost any task is called a garden shovel. This tool is perfect for digging up soil, transplanting or repotting plants, lifting rocks, fertilizer, and other materials, and much more.

A square-point shovel, on the other hand, is almost the exact opposite. This type of shovel serves the purpose of transporting materials from one point to another rather than actually digging into the ground.

This type of shovel is ideal for moving piles of rocks or even smoothing soil or concrete during construction. Scoop shovels can also be used to move materials, just like the square-point shovel.

There is another type of gardening tool called a trenching, or irrigation shovel, that is used for creating deep holes without breaking the surrounding soil or destroying nearby plants. Additionally, a trenching shovel is basically exactly what it sounds like, which is perfect for digging trenches into the ground.

Similarly, a drain spade is a type of shovel with a more narrow and thin blade at the end of the handle. Drain spades have round tips at the end of their blades and are best used to dig trenches or other holes in tight spaces. They can also be used to dig holes to replant or pot existing plants.

Another essential tool that is used in every garden is called a gardening hoe. The main purpose of a gardening hoe is to remove weeds from the ground without having to bend over and manually pull them out from the soil. Just like gardening shovels, there are plenty of diverse classifications for this tool as well.

The most basic type of gardening hoe is commonly referred to as a paddle hoe. These tools are the most standard shape, which includes a long wooden handle with a metal blade at the opposite end. The blade sticks out from the handle at a precise angle of 90 degrees, which makes it easy to loosen stubborn weeds.

A stirrup hoe looks very similar to the stirrups on a horse’s saddle, with an empty space in the middle. Also known as a loop hoe, this tool is great for digging out weeds with a back and forth motion.

Some gardening hoes are designed for more tedious and precise tasks and are constructed with much smaller and thinner blades. These tools include collinear hoes and warren hoes. Collinear, or onion hoes, have an extremely thin rectangular blade, while Warren and Dutch hoes have a triangular or spade-shaped blade with sharp corners.

In addition to all of the different types of gardening shovels and hoes that serve their own unique purposes within a garden, there are tools such as tillers and cultivators that complete similar tasks. Garden tillers and cultivators work together to prepare and maintain the soil for a garden. Both of these tools can be manual or automatic, but will ultimately produce the same results when they are used.

A garden tiller is a gardening tool that breaks up clumps of soil in order to aerate it and distribute its nutrients among all the plants in the garden. There are two main types of tilers that are most commonly used in gardens: front-tine tillers and rear-tine tillers.

 Front-tine tillers are constructed with the blades, or tines, directly in front of the machine’s wheels. Just as the name suggests, the tool will move the soil in front of it in a forward direction. While using most types of front-tine tillers, you can apply pressure to a handle that will elevate the front end of the machine to avoid unnecessary friction between the blades and the ground as you guide it through the soil.

A rear-tine tiller is almost the exact opposite of afront-tine tiller. These types of machines are built with the wheels in front and the blades in the back directly behind them instead of the other way around. While operating a rear-tine tiller, it is common for the blades to turn against the direction they are being pushed.

As a result, this type of garden tiller will usually be able to reach deeper into the soil than the front-tine machines. They will also generally hold more power than their counterparts along with being able to dig further into the dirt.

Garden cultivators, on the other hand, come after the tilling process and provide the soil with the finishing touches on the surface. Cultivators also serve the purpose of rotating and aerating the soil, stirring fertilizers into the ground, and removing weeds in an existing garden.

Due to the significantly smaller size of cultivators, they are able to mix soil together more thoroughly. After the land has been cleared of any existing plants or hard objects and properly tilled, the cultivator will be able to run through the soil to prepare the garden for planting new seeds. They can also weave through small spaces in between existing plants to remove stubborn weeds with ease.

How to Clean Garden Tools

Based on the fact that most quality gardening tools can be expensive to purchase, it can be concluded that they should always be kept in great condition to help them last as long as possible.

It is important to always clean your gardening tools promptly after each use to avoid permanent stains or other damages to the hardware. The first thing you should do after you are finished gardening with the aspecific tool is to remove the dirt.

Depending on how much buildup is present on the surface of the tool, you might have to scrape it off with another object to remove it. If there is not much excess soil or dirt on the tool after you are finished using it, you can simply shake or brush it off until any obstructions are gone.

The next step in the cleaning process is rust removal. Gardening tools with any kind of steel or metal materials on them might be subject to collecting rust on their surfaces. In the presence of this orange material, you can scrub directly on top of it with steel wool. This process should remove most of the rust in the problem areas before you advance to the next stages.

Since gardening tools are used to maintain many different types of plants throughout the day, it is likely that they will accumulate some type of build-up of plant materials on their surfaces. If any of your tools have a sticky substance stuck on the blades or handles, you can quickly remove it using a clean cloth with some lighter fluid on it.

After all dirt, rust, and sap have been cleaned off of your gardening tools, you will need to clean them even deeper by soaking them. This can be completed with a bucket of hot water alone, but dish soap can also be added to clean even deeper.

The hot water will soak into the tools and help to remove any excess buildup or stubborn stains. Whether you use soap during this step or not will depend on the condition of your tools. It will be up to you to decide if they need a very deep clean or if they are almost spotless and just need a quick touch-up.

Once your tools have been properly soaked in your bucket of hot water or soapy water, they will need a rinse with clean water. The tools must be thoroughly dried before being put away to avoid the creation of even more rust in the problem areas.

The best thing to use for drying the tools is an old towel or something that is used specifically for gardening or outdoor tasks. This way, you will not need to worry about getting it mixed up with the other towels that are used inside the house.

Since this entire cleaning process can become very tiresome and time-consuming, you might be thinking about a quicker and easier alternative to keeping your tools clean and properly maintaining them. Luckily, all of these steps do not need to be followed every single time you use your gardening tools outside.

Instead, you can keep a large bucket filled with sand and one cup of vegetable oil. This is especially useful for the bigger tools that are much harder to clean and take more time out of your day to tend to.

The combination of the sand and oil together will be able to remove any additional dirt that is stuck on the tools and protect the finish. Alternatively, you can use motor oil from your car for this trick instead of vegetable oil if that’s what is more available to you.

While going through the process of washing and soaking your tools can be helpful in deep-cleaning them, some of your tools might require the occasional disinfection. If you have any plants in your garden with a fungal or bacterial presence of any kind, you will most likely need to disinfect them to prevent the spread of disease.

The most ideal product to use for disinfecting your tools is a basic package of disinfectant wipes. Regardless of the brand you choose, you should make sure these wipes are completely free of bleach.

In the event that you did not properly clean and disinfect your tools that have come in contact with a harmful bacteria from one of your plants, the germs could spread between tools and eventually end up negatively affecting your other plants.

To top off the entire process of cleaning and disinfecting your gardening tools, you should keep another bucket handy for additional soaking. This time, you should use diluted bleach instead of soapy water. To create this mixture, you will add two cups of bleach for every gallon of water, depending on the size of your bucket and the number of tools you will need to sanitize.

Sanitization is an extra precaution that should be taken after cleaning and disinfecting all of your tools to prevent the spread of any kind of illness or infestation. No gardener would like to even think about the possibility of insects laying eggs inside of their tools, but it can happen if they are not frequently sanitized. Luckily, this can be avoided by following through with this step to stop any problems before they even start.

After the sanitizing stage has been completed, you will need to rinse them off with clean water to make sure that none of the bleach solutions rests on the surface for extended periods of time.

Similar to the previous steps in the cleaning process, you must always thoroughly dry each and every one of your gardening tools in every crevice to avoid rusting or molding in smaller areas that might retain moisture.

Why It Is Important to Store Gardening Tools

All types of gardening tools should always be stored in a secure and closed environment. Leaving any kind of tool in your garden unattended can put it at a higher risk for sun and water damage that can become irreversible at a certain point.

Tools and equipment that are left in the rain or other wet places for long periods of time can start to form rust on their surfaces. If there is any kind of paint on the outside of the tool, it can loosen and fall off in the presence of excess moisture for too long.

Additionally, sharp objects that are left outside on the ground can be mistakenly tripped over or stepped on causing serious injury. One of the most useful tips that exist in the gardening community is to coat all of your garden tools with a fluorescent layer of paint.

Since the color scheme of the average garden tool will blend in with its surroundings, it can be easy for them to get lost in the yard and for the gardener to forget them before going inside. This can be detrimental to the life span of the tool if this is too common of an occurrence.

In order to offset the possibility of leaving your garden tools outside regularly, you can paint them a bright color so they will stick out against the vegetation. This way, you will not be able to walk back into the house without seeing the reflection of color in the corner of your eye that will remind you not to forget about your tools.

Besides the most obvious physical reasons, it is important to garden tool storage in order to keep them clean. If the tools are always left out in the open immediately after they are cleaned, they will just get dirty again and the rigorous cleaning process you have just gone through will be useless.

When tools are left outside, they are more prone to collecting dirt and insects as well as experiencing sun and water damage from the weather conditions at any given time. All of these effects can be avoided when your tools are properly stored in a covered box or shed that will keep them both clean and dry until their next use.

The best way to store gardening tools, besides keeping them clean and dry in an enclosed location, is to keep them organized. Smaller tools that can be held in your hand should be kept in some kind of small box or crate that is easily accessible.

The tools that you will be using more frequently or on a daily basis should be moved toward the front of the shelves or the top of the toolbox for the easiest possible access.

Any sharp objects should be carefully covered and kept in a separate place to avoid any injuries while you are rummaging through your tools to find what you need. Additionally, any space that you will be walking through should be clear of obstructions and things you can trip over.

The last thing you would want to do is suffer any kind of injury while you are digging to the bottom of your toolbox or walking through your tool shed, so it is just as important to organize your tools as it is to clean and store them.

Related Questions

What is the price difference between mechanical garden tillers and electric cultivators, and how do these prices compare to the manual versions?

Depending on the size and quality of each tiller and cultivator, the average purchase price can be anywhere from $200 to $500. This is a significant price jump in comparison to manual hand tillers and cultivators that can be purchased for about $20 to $30.

Alternatively, you can rent one of these machines for approximately $20 to $60 per day if you would prefer not to make the investment. This option is ideal for those who will not frequently use one or both of the tools on a regular basis.

Should gardening gloves be needed to operate tools in the garden?

There are a lot of things that can happen to the fingers and hands while gardening in the absence of a sturdy pair of gloves. To name a few, dirt can get under the fingernails and even break them without a barrier protecting them.

Since soil can be home to stray materials such as rocks, splinters, and other sharp objects, digging into the dirt with bare hands incurs a higher risk of getting cuts and splinter wounds.

These objects are often hidden within the dark and thick texture of the soil, and most of these injuries will come without any warning, so it is important to protect the fingers and hands against potential harm and infections.

Along with stray objects, soil also contains harmful chemicals and waste materials from living things that are distributed throughout it. Obviously, these materials are not visible to the human eye, so there is no way to explicitly avoid coming in contact with them unless gloves are protecting the hands.

Continuously gardening without wearing gloves can cause open cuts and lacerations on the fingers and hands to come in contact with bacteria from the earth and make the gardener more prone to infections as a result.

Bacterial infections are not the only things that can plague open wounds on the hands. There are several poisonous plants that can be found in nature that could be unrecognizable to the gardener. These plants could have also been chopped up by a mechanical gardening tool and distributed throughout the soil and unintentionally hidden even more. These types of plants can cause rashes and other adverse reactions when they come in direct contact with the skin.

If the gardener has an allergy to a specific kind of plant or other substance that might be sifted throughout the soil, equal harm can be inflicted on them in the absence of gardening gloves.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of options when it comes to choosing the right pair of gardening gloves to suit your needs. Some of the most popular materials used in the best gardening gloves include leather, cotton, nitrile, and rubber, or latex.

Should I wash my garden gloves just like my gardening tools?

Just like gardening tools, every pair of gardening gloves should be washed immediately after they are used in order to prevent permanent stains or damage to the gloves. They should also be properly cared for with any kind of special treatment they require to maintain their shape and elasticity.

The way you clean your garden gloves will depend on the materials they are made out of since each type of glove will require special care to keep it in the best condition possible.

Leather gloves will require a more thorough cleaning and maintenance process than almost any other type of glove.

Since leather can incur damages from too much water, they must be brushed off with a soft-bristled cleaning brush before they are wiped down with a damp cloth. The damp towel or cloth should not have any excess water and will usually have a special saddle soap on the tip of it that is worked into the material of the glove.

They will then be wiped off with a clean towel and air-dried before being treated with special conditioning oils.

Cotton gloves, on the other hand, are much easier to care for. Just like a cotton t-shirt, they can be tossed into the washing machine in your laundry room and air-dried on a clothing line.

Rubber gloves will need to be thoroughly washed off with water and a dishwashing liquid, and air-dried in an open environment to avoid any molding or mildew formation. This is the exact process that latex gloves will go through after being used in the soil to prevent any permanent damage.

Eyerly Family

The Eyerly Family is a family of 8 that loves gardening. Over the past several years we have been applying what we learn about gardening to our own 16x16 raised back yard garden. Our garden is very prolific and we grow a wide variety of vegetables which we love to eat! Click here to learn more about the Eyerly Family.

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