Punxsutawney Phil might have seen his shadow, forecasting another six weeks of winter, but it's a sure bet that spring will be here soon.
Now is the time to prepare gardening tools for the upcoming growing season. From the lawnmower to the clippers, every tool in the storage shed needs to be cleaned and repaired, if necessary, before spring arrives.
While there are many machine repair shops in the area, experts agree that homeowners can clean tools themselves with a few simple guidelines.
The Web site www.doityourself.com suggests that cleaning and organizing garden tools and supplies will help determine if they need to be replaced and will minimize harmful bacteria in the garden.
"Cleaning your tools will prevent any plant pathogens from transferring to grasses and flowers," according to an article on the Web site.
"Scrub off any rust and rub on vegetable or mineral oil lightly after the tools have been cleaned to prevent rust from forming again."
The Web site also notes that mower blades, hedge trimmers and weed whackers should be cleaned and checked to determine whether blades need to be replaced or sharpened.
Any expired garden chemicals, such as weed killers and fertilizers, should be thrown out. Not only do they take up space, but they can cause a health hazard in storage areas.
Joel Lerner, a Washington, D.C., based writer and founder of a Maryland landscape and design business, recently posted an article on www.thecabin.net in which he explains why spreaders and sprayers should also be checked before putting them to use this spring.
"The only way to ensure accurate and even distribution of dry fertilizer, weed killer or insect control is by using a drop spreader, which drops material through holes in the bottom of a hopper," Lerner wrote. "Thoroughly clean sprayers and spreaders after every use. Many landscape chemicals are extremely corrosive, and failure to clean your equipment before storing it for winter might necessitate replacing parts or purchasing new ones."
Conducting a simple maintenance check of yard tools now will ensure that they will be ready for gardening when warmer weather arrives.
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