How to winterize your yard equipment

Summer is over, and it is time to pack away the tools and equipment that were essential for caring for the yard during the warmer months.

Summer is over, and it is time to pack away the tools and equipment that were essential for caring for the yard during the warmer months.
For the most part, seasonal tools will be in hibernation between three and five months. Electric equipment generally requires only a good cleaning before placing in storage. But when it comes to gas-powered engines, metal tools and sprinkler systems, special attention is required.

How to winterize a gas lawn mower
Make sure the lawn mower is stored in an area that is moisture-free. Empty the gas tank by running the engine until it cuts off from lack of fuel. To make doubly sure the tank is completely empty, prime and attempt to restart. If opting to leave fuel in the tank, at least add fuel stabilizer to extend the life of the gasoline and protect the engine. Other important steps include changing the oil and spark plug and thoroughly cleaning the engine housing. Also, be sure to have the mower’s blade sharpened and balanced. Small engine machine shops are a good option to consider for handling these jobs when time is tight.

How to winterize your hedge clippers
Like lawnmowers, gasoline-powered string trimmers and hedge clippers require extra care when being stored away. Storage areas should be clean – make sure there is no dust or moisture that could potentially find its way into the equipment and cause damage. Clean and lubricate the equipment and check for any loose nuts and bolts. With string trimmers, inspect the line to ensure there are no knots or tangles, and replace the spool if necessary. Additional steps include removing and installing a new spark plug and draining the engine of fuel. Also, check the fuel lines to ensure they have not become brittle.

How to winterize a leaf blower
Leaf blowers are the last piece of equipment to be stored. After all the dead leaves in the yard have been blown away, make sure the nozzle and engine are debris-free. There are two options for proper storage: Store engine on a dry floor, or hang on a wall hook.

Winterizing sprinkler systems and hoses
Underground sprinkler systems can be drained of water by using an air compressor. Disconnect the water system and connect the compressor to blow out any remaining water. The job is done once air is the only thing escaping from the sprinkler heads. Air compressors are available for rental from hardware stores. Also consider the option of hiring a lawn maintenance company. Like a sprinkler system, hoses should be drained of all water. Wrap them and store properly in a covered area.

Make your garden tools last
Ever notice how tools like garden rakes, shovels and hoes end up covered in rust within just a few years of purchase? Cleaning them after each usage will help prevent such a build up. Come season's end, give them another thorough cleaning and cover the metal components with a coating of silicon spray, which will also help keep the rust away. Rough handles can be smoothed out with sandpaper and a coating of linseed oil.

Additional tips
Store all unused fertilizer and seeds in airtight containers, and move all of your winter-related equipment to the front of your storage area so it is easily accessible.

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