by David Wall
Out of 300+ articles written and published, this will probably be the one ignored the most!!! Nevertheless, it contains information that needs to be said! Under the heading of take care of me now or TAKE CARE of me next spring, tools need maintenance.
First and foremost, get them clean. Dirt will probably absorb moisture during the winter leading to tool rust, so it needs to be removed. This can be a simple wiping with a cloth to spraying with a hose, to soaking metal parts in soapy water and scrubbing with an abrasive rag.
Once each tool is clean, check to make sure screws, nuts, and bolts are tight. Moving parts should move freely. Lubricating with oil or WD40 may be needed. Clean the underside of your mower before sharpening the blade. You can always tell a dull mower blade by looking at the grass after mowing. A sharp blade will leave a clean cut, whereas a dull blade will leave a jagged tip and perhaps a dead leaf blade about an 1/8th of an inch.
Since you sharpened you lawn mower blade, what about any hoes you may have? It is amazing how much better they chop with a sharp blade. Once the tools are sharp, clean, and tightened, put some oil on a rag and wipe down the metal parts.
Now that the metal parts have been taken care of, look at the wooden parts. Unless you paid a little extra to avoid having a wooden handle, use some sort of wood protector to keep the handles from drying out, cracking, and eventually breaking after giving you several splinters!
Where engines are involved, inspect the filter, grease wheel hubs, and change the oil & spark plugs. Either provide this maintenance, or replace your tools fairly often!