Lawn and Garden Equipment

Most homeowners prioritize their home maintenance tasks based on costs, importance and urgency. Among the lowest on the list is often properly storing and maintaining garden and lawn equipment. Yet it's often one of the least time-consuming for the dividends it can pay off.

One exception can be a new storage shed. If a shed needs to be constructed and the homeowner is a do-it-yourselfer, it may be a time-consuming project, albeit a welcome one for those who like such home projects. Patio boxes and similar types of smaller storage containers may provide enough extra space to store your tools; smaller-sized fertilizer, mulch and soil bags; barbecue equipment; and other similar items outside the confines of your home. Yet, if this doesn't offer enough extra room -- or you don't have enough room in a garage or don't have a garage at all, you may want to build an outdoor storage shed yourself, or hire a contractor to do the job.

Check your local building codes and, if applicable, any homeowners' association by-laws that may affect the placement, size or style of your shed. Build a good foundation on a level area and ensure the door size of the model you choose can accommodate your largest pieces of equipment, such as riding mowers or snow blowers. Concrete and pressure-treated wood are the most common foundation materials for sheds.

Storage structures are usually made from metal, wood or resin. A balance between the cost of the structure and the amount of space needed should be weighed carefully.  Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages, as listed below.

Metal

Advantages: Usually the cheapest to buy

Disadvantages: Prone to rust, especially in humid climates

Wood

Advantages: Often the most attractive

Disadvantages: Needs the most treatment and maintenance to look its best; most prone to rotting and insect damage; among the most time-consuming and challenging to assemble

Resin

Advantages: Most resistant to rot and rust; among the easiest and fastest to assemble

Disadvantages: Among the most expensive

Maintaining tools and equipment

Another important consideration related to storage is tool maintenance. Tools should always be cleaned immediately after use. Spray them with a hose to remove mud and allow them to air dry. For stubborn dried-on dirt or mud on tools, you may have to use a trowel or other metal tool.

Just as rust is the primary enemy of metal storage units, it also attacks metal tools and parts. If rust is already on your tools, use sandpaper, steel wool or a stiff wire brush to remove it. To prevent rust on tools in the future, try this:

Pour a quart of motor oil into a galvanized steel or plastic tub filled three-quarters with sand. Most tubs are at least 20 inches in diameter and 18 inches deep. If space is at a premium, then a smaller container will also work. However, decrease the amount of sand and oil used proportionally. However, try to keep the minimum depth of the sand at 16 inches to ensure the metal parts of shovels and other tools can be dipped completely in the material. After use and any necessary cleaning of metal tools, dip them into the oily sand. Wipe away excess sand and oil with a cloth or paper towel before storage. This will help prevent rust from forming. Another alternative is to spray a light film of oil on cleaned and dried tools after each use. Again, use a cloth or paper towel to remove any excess oil.

Metal tools should be stored off the ground in a dry area to prevent rust. For smaller tools, a peg board with metal hooks works well. For larger tools, such as rakes and shovels, you can purchase wall-mounted multi-tool holders. This works well and means that no floor space is needed to store tools. Linseed oil can be rubbed into wooden tool handles to preserve them.

An important final task before harsh winters is to remove, drain and store garden hoses in a garage or storage unit to increase the lifespan of the rubber and decrease the possibility of faucets bursting due to ice expansion.

Storing gas-powered equipment

Fuel can become stale in as little as 30 days. This is why gas should be drained from engines before long-term storage. Be sure to run the engine until all fuel is gone. During your last use of the equipment, such as a mower, before long-term storage, try to "time" your last gas fill-up and the amount you add to ensure you won't have much fuel left in the tank as you're about to complete your last use of that equipment.

Another way to store a gas-powered equipment is to add fuel stabilizer to a full tank (or close to it) of gas before storage. This will help the fuel last for up to six months. However, it's important to run the engine for a few minutes after the stabilizer is added so it's distributed throughout the entire system.

After long-term storage, if starting the engine is a problem, check the spark plug tip to see whether black deposits are there. If so, replace the plug.

As always, it's good to check the owner's manuals for all your equipment to ensure your following the manufacturer's specific advice for maintenance and storage. By properly storing garden and lawn equipment, you can lengthen its lifespan, keep it in good working order and decrease the need and cost of replacing equipment.

The advice on this website is provided as a courtesy for informational purposes only. "Storage Tips" are offered as-is and no warranty is expressed or implied. For more information, see StorageFront's Terms and Conditions.

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