You don’t keep your winter coat and heavy sweaters in the front of the closet in summer. So why keep your snow shovel or rock salt in the front of your tool shed in August?
As the seasons change, rotating the tools in your shed or garage is as important as rotating the clothes in your closet. There’s nothing worse than having to climb over the winter gear to reach the lawnmower, or even worse, having to climb over the chainsaw and lawnmower to reach the winter supplies.
“I like to put my summer tools away with the first freeze and get my spreader for ice melt and snow shovel ready to use,” says College of Western Idaho horticulturist Dr. Rich Guggenheim. “I will leave them there until I go back in the spring and get the tiller and mower ready for the summer.”
Storing your tools according to the season also makes it easier for you to clean and maintain them year-round. Guggenheim points out, failing to maintain your tools can be a costly mistake. “In preparation for the first freeze, I drain the oil and fuel from my gas-powered equipment. I also drain and store hoses, so they don’t crack over winter,” he said.
Another money-saving tip? Have your blades professionally sharpened in the fall, so you can avoid the spring rush when prices often go up. Sharp mower blades are essential for a sharp-looking lawn this summer. Dull blades tear the grass, making it more prone to disease and stress.
It’s tempting to leave your tools next to the garden, so they’re always easy to access. But that leaves the tools prone to theft – and you and neighborhood children prone to accidents. Yes, lawn Mowers can be deadly, but so can a rake or shovel propped up against a wall. Before you prune, plant, or preen your garden, make sure you protect yourself against accidental injuries by having a safe place to hang that sharp rake or hedge trimmer.
Slat wall panels can be an invaluable tool for hanging garden tools in the garage. You can rotate the tools easily, keep them out of harm’s way, and take a visual inventory every spring. They also help you keep your garage organized. This quick inventory can keep you from buying a tool you may have forgotten you already have.
Shed Vs. Garage
Having a garden shed allows you to use your garage for parking cars – without tripping over rakes and shovels. But it doesn’t let you off the hook when it comes to seasonal storage. Slat wall panels can also help you keep the long-handled tools in order.
Other ideas? Turn a filing cabinet into a moveable storage container. Store smaller items like gloves, twine, solar lights, and hooks in a large hanging plant basket that you can suspend from the ceiling. Put a small pallet in the corner of the shed for garden soil, rock salt, and other materials you want to keep dry. The key thing to remember is that all these are portable, so rotating your tools by season will be easier.
Now, if only we could build a shed for our winter clothes!
Article by Joel Hillan, a TV and radio journalist who’s written for several national publications. He has two backyard sheds: one for his kids’ toys and one for his toys, aka garden tools.