Winter seems to drag on forever. But before you realize it, it’ll be time to cut the grass, fertilize the lawn, and take care of the garden. There are simple things you can do right now to prepare for when spring arrives and yard work begins.
Clean and Shine
We hope you at least knocked the mud off your tools in the fall. Now it’s time to do an up-close-and-personal inspection.
Wash off the rest of the dirt and check for rust. Rust loosens up if you let the tool soak in white vinegar. Use a stiff wire brush and sandpaper to clean off the tool. If it’s so rusted that the tool has become fragile, it’s time for a new one.
Sharpen it up
Inspect lawn mower blades, shovels, spades, and shears, and garden knives–anything with a cutting edge. Are they sharp? If you don’t want to sharpen them yourself, take them in to a shop that can do it for you. Go now in the winter before the shops get busy in the spring.
Remember to keep lawn mower blades balanced as you file or grind them. Check for balance by using a balancer or hanging the blade on a nail through the center hole.
Tighten up and replace parts
Does any of your equipment have loose screws or parts that need tightening? Are there any parts missing or cracked? Is your lawn mower pull cord frayed? Do you have flat tires?
Check air and oil filters on power equipment to see if they need to be replaced. If you have a riding mower or leaf blower, remember to check the spark plugs.
If you’re thinking about getting a new lawn mower, they are generally on sale in April and May.
Grease it up
Are all the parts moving smoothly? A little WD-40 might be just what you need to make the pruning shears work like new. A chainsaw may need more oil.
Gas it up, charge it up
If you’ve had a half-tank of gas sitting for months in your mower, you’ll want to flush it out before you fill it up. Gasoline without a fuel stabilizer becomes useless after about a month and can corrode and damage a fuel system.
Check batteries and power cords for any power equipment you use.
Review owner manuals and operating instructions
Sometimes the rust isn’t just on the tool. Sometimes our memories need jogging.
Check the yard itself
You can test the pH of your lawn to see what kind of nutrients it will need. See if there are any dead spots or sparse areas in the grass. Are there fallen limbs or branches that will need trimming? How about leaf debris that needs to be raked?
If you’re close to spring, consider laying down 2 to 3 inches of mulch around trees and bushes to keep weeds down.
You can start seeds growing indoors ahead of spring planting. If you don’t already compost, check out composters at your local garden center. It may be a worthwhile investment for you.
Stock up on fertilizer, weed killer, and cold drinks
Pretty soon you’re going to need them!