With late fall approaching, it’s time to perform a few simple maintenance tasks to make sure that your lawn and garden tools stay in good shape over the winter. It can be tempting to just stow away these tools until spring rolls around, but properly caring for your lawn and garden tools can improve their performance and extend their lifespan. It takes just a little bit of time to winterize your outdoor tools and equipment before putting them away for the year.

Push Mowers

  • Empty the gas tank. Unused gas left in your push mower can become stale over the winter, which gums up the carburetor and creates the perfect environment for rust.
  • Disconnect the spark plug. It takes just a few seconds to disconnect the spark plug, which prevents the machine from accidentally starting, resulting in injuries.
  • Remove the mower blade. Once the blade is removed, change the oil and clean the underside of the mower. Sharpen the blade while you’re at it.
  • Clean the air filter. Dirty air filters prevent the mower engine from effectively burning gas.
  • Replace the pull cord. If the pull cord on your mower is frayed, replace it with a new one.
  • Add fuel stabilizer to the tank. If your mower is stored in the basement, remove all fuel before storing it. If it’s stored in a shed or garage, fill the tank with fresh gas and top it off with fuel stabilizer.

Lawn Tractors

  • Check the oil and filter. Allow old oil to drain out until empty and remove the oil filter before installing a new one. Use engine oil specifically for small engines.
  • Replace the fuel filter and spark plug. While removing the filter, use vice grips to pinch the fuel line and stop the flow of gas.
  • Remove the battery. Disconnect the negative battery cable followed by the positive cable. Store the battery in a dry, cool place.
  • Add fuel stabilizer to the tank. Gasoline goes stale about 30 days after pumping. Protect your lawn tractor engine with fuel stabilizer.
  • Sharpen the blade. Similar to a push mower, a lawn tractor contains a blade that should be sharpened at the end of the season. Once it’s removed, clean the mower deck.
  • Check tire inflation. Soft tires can make steering less responsive. If they’re not already fully inflated, inflate the tires as the manual specifies.

Hedge Trimmers

  • Add fuel stabilizer to the tank. If you have a gas hedge trimmer, add fuel stabilizer and run the engine for a few minutes to ensure that the mixture reaches the carburetor.
  • Remove the spark plug. Make sure that the spark plug is cool and twist to remove it.
  • Clean the blades and housing. If necessary, remove the blade and sharpen it. Also, wipe down the blade with machine oil.
  • Store the hedge trimmer in a clean, dry area. Keep the machine away from fertilizer, which can cause corrosion.

Weed Trimmers

  • Drain remaining fuel. Use a siphon or allow the weed trimmer to run until the engine shuts off.
  • Remove the spark plug. Unscrew the spark plug from the cylinder; replace it in the spring.
  • Store the trimmer off the ground. It is best to hang the weed trimmer high off the ground in a well-ventilated area.

Other Lawn Tools

  • Drain all water from hoses. Store hoses on a hose support or reel, or coil the hose loosely and place it on a nail or support hook.
  • Remove dirt or vegetation from tools. Use a wire brush or scraper to clean spades, hoes, pruners, and similar garden tools.
  • Give attention to carts and wagons. Wheelbarrows and similar yard tools should be cleaned thoroughly. Touch up worn paint to prevent rust.
  • Store brooms, rakes, and shovels in a dry area. If possible, hang these tools from a nail or hook in your garage or shed.