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Plan to Re-Tool for Spring

By Donnetta Wilhelm, Colorado Master Gardener

Although a snowy day is not the time gardeners are working outdoors, late January and February can be surprisingly balmy when temperatures reach 41° to 51°F. Sunlight also increases to 10 hours and 43 minutes a day, so it can be a good time to prep garden implements for the upcoming season. Follow these whimsical tenets for good results.

Photo credit: Utah State University
Photo credit: Oklahoma State University
  1. “Preparation time is never wasted time” so avoid the spring rush and take power equipment to the local small engine repair shop. Equipment that benefits from annual tune-ups are lawnmowers, string trimmers, hedge trimmers, chainsaws, blower/vacs and tillers. Properly maintained equipment makes yard work easier on the gardener and better for the landscape and environment.
  2. “If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I would spend the first four hours sharpening the axe” said Abraham Lincoln. Larger tools that should be cleaned, oiled (and sharpened, if applicable) and kept in top shape are axes, shovels, spades, forks, rakes, pruning saws and hoes. One piece of equipment that is overlooked is the wheelbarrow. Clean it well and check the axle and tire pressure.
  3. “A clean tool is a safe tool” so give attention to the small hand tools. Thoroughly clean and oil hand weeders, soil knives, trowels, garden scissors and pruners. Sharpen tips or blades, check handles and screws or rivets.
  4. “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” noted Benjamin Franklin. A necessity that gardeners forget to check are hoses and sprinklers. Check hose connections and washers and inspect for splits, cracks and leaks to avoid wasting water. Check sprinklers for connection problems, clogs and cracks.
  5. Franklin has also been quoted as saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” It is important to take care of the gardener. Sort out gloves and hats and replace those in bad condition. Make sure eye, ear and skin protection items are well-stocked. Also check gardener aids such as benches, cushions and knee pads.
  6. Enter the 2020 gardening season with tools in good shape. “No plan ever failed due to good planning” -Jury Nel.

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