There’s nothing worse than going to use a piece of gardening or landscaping equipment and realizing it’s nonfunctional for one reason or another.  While the up-front investment on quality equipment can be significant, it often comes with fewer problems and a longer lifespan when cared for properly compared to inexpensive equipment and tools. Generally, I recommend you purchase the best quality you can afford, and take the time to take proper care of them to protect your investment. I know it’s the dead of winter, so we may not be using equipment as much, but that means it’s a great time of year to be doing some maintenance.

            Some equipment requires more frequent attention than others. Hand tools include things like shovels, rakes, loppers, and pruners. Maintaining these tools can be as simple as applying a light coat of tool oil at the end of each use. Wooden handles may need more attention than fiberglass or other alternatives; use either a light coat of oil or a coating of outdoor spray paint to help prevent wear and damage. Any tool with a blade should be kept clean and razor sharp with a mill file or sharpening stone to keep them cutting cleanly.

            Motorized equipment both small and large comes with its own maintenance needs. The majority of garden and landscaping equipment use either two-cycle (small equipment) or four-cycle (larger equipment) engines, which are very reliable if maintained properly. First, check the engine oil daily or each time you use the equipment. Engine oil should be at the proper level for that specific piece of equipment, and should be fully changed once a year. Be sure to use the correct type and amount of engine oil in your equipment per your owner’s manual. With two-cycle motors, be sure to use fresh fuel mixed at the proper gas to oil ratio, or purchase the correct pre-mixed product for your equipment brand. An incorrect ratio can cause the engine to run poorly. Regularly inspect the air breather and filter, and clean or change it as needed throughout the season. Also, be sure to check tire pressure, particularly on things like lawnmowers or equipment trailers. Lastly, inspect the blades or chains on cutting equipment for both sharpness and damage and if needed, replace or sharpen them. These simple checks can help maintain your equipment in good working order throughout the year.

            There are times of year when your motorized equipment might sit 3-4 weeks without being used, and it’s recommended that you winterize during those periods. To winterize equipment for an extended period of storage, it is best to start with a dry fuel tank. Empty the entire tank of fuel into an approved container, then crank the motor several times to empty the remaining fuel from the carburetor. Check or change your engine oil at this time too, and be sure to check the rest of the engine including the air filter, spark plugs, wheels, cables, belts, blades, etc. Follow the guidelines in your service manual for additional maintenance steps, and consider sharpening blades so they’re ready to go the next time you need them.

            Proper equipment maintenance can help prevent frustration and ensure your tools stay in good working order throughout the years. More equipment maintenance information can be found in UGA Circular 1247: Equipment Maintenance and Troubleshooting for the Landscape and Garden. If you have further questions about landscapes or garden, contact us at or 706-359-3233.

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