Garden tools – time for a tidy up that will help others!

By Sarah Buchanan. First published by Rattan Direct on 28 October 2016.

It is half term here and the last chance to encourage older children to help in the garden: collecting leaves for compost (and fun) and, if it rains, tidying the garden shed to sort out garden tools that can help others or need TLC. Tempt them – a tidy shed now can make space for other things: new bicycles (Christmas is coming), or a garden chair for some hide away time? I recommended tidy sheds in a blog earlier this year, and as we move to the end of the year it is time for another spring clean in mine.

Recycle garden tools

Why keep garden tools that you never use? World and local news challenges us to think about how we can make the lives of people easier and better. Recycling unwanted garden tools is one way I am helping this autumn. Try it – it does wonders for the shed and helps community projects.

Not all charity shops accept garden tools. Some garden centres have ‘amnesty weeks’ when old and unwanted tools are collected to pass to recycling charities and old tools win vouchers toward new ones. Specialist charities welcome garden (and other) tools and find great new homes and uses for them. Workaid has collectors all over the UK who welcome your donations. Try this website for other charities and ask local charities and community groups about projects near you, such as Hope Enterprises in Northampton, that make good use of your unwanted tools.

garden tools
Workaid collects unwanted tools from all over the UK to refurbish and donate to local projects or sell to raise cash for local action. Alastair Holland, 2016.

A volunteer at Workaid amazed me about how much this charity does to repair and share garden (and DIY) tools that people no longer need or want. Projects in the local area and further afield are given renovated tools, and those not neeeded are sold to raise cash for local action. The volunteers who collect and repair tools use and share their skills, helping others learn DIY skills alongside them and gaining confidence. The Workaid Facebook pages might inspire you too to clear your shed NOW and make a difference to people’s lives. As for me – I am taking a full car boot to my local contact: my spare garden tools will do much more good with Workaid than they ever will with me.

garden tools
The WORKAID lawnmower team, see their Facebook page for more information on recycling garden tools

Maintain and repair garden tools

Meanwhile – the garden tools you are keeping need TLC to get ready for the winter and the year ahead. I should check tools when I put them away. But I often head for the tea pot instead. This week I am on a maintain and repair spree – following useful advice, like this old copy of the Daily Express, and this helpful website, to care for the tools I am keeping.

First – clean off mud and dried plant matter from tool handles and edges. I use a stiff brush and wire wool, then soapy water which I rinse off and dry the tools well.

Second – oil moving parts, with something like WD40, and check everything is as it should be. If not, I create a pile for action (read on!). Rubbing linseed oil or wax into clean (sometimes you need to lightly sand) wooden handles makes them look and feel great and it maintains the wood for another year of great gardening.

Third – tighten up loose and wobbling screws and fittings.

All done?

Just sweep and tidy the shed before you and your helpers award yourselves the Best Shed in the Street medal, and feel glad to have shared some tools that can make life easier for others. And maybe order that chair for your shed?

And get out and about and enjoy autumn in some of the Forestry Commission’s top ten woods in autumn and your local park.

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