Late winter and early spring is the perfect time to think about all of the important tasks that need to be done before the gardening season gets started. I usually start thinking about my gardens right around Christmas, and start planning in earnest right after the first of the year. While it is too early to even consider planting anything, it is not too early to get all of your tools organized and do any maintenance on them they might need. There is a post here about maintaining your garden tools my husband was kind enough to do for us last year.
One of the things I have thought a lot about in the last couple years of gardening I have done, is a better way to keep my tools organized as well as ways to keep track of them. Every year I spend more time collecting tools and taking them up to my garden as well as collecting them and making sure they make it back to the shed, than I want to. There is also the problem of family members who use tools and tend to leave them out in the garden rather than put them away or not putting them away properly.
Not much of a problem if your gardening space is small, but if you happen to have large gardening areas and storage spaces, finding tools can be frustrating. Never mind what happens when tools get left out in the garden all winter, which can ruin even the sturdiest of tools. One year my husband was using my pruning shears out by the compost pile, I found them the following spring, they were never the same.
So the goal is a way to keep the tools all in one place, and to make it easy to keep track of them when they do get misplaced. This list of 5 tips is going to help me and you do just that.
1) Get a Gardening Cart with a Tool Rack – One of my investments was a gardening cart, big enough to put anything in, use for weed removal, and with a place to put my tools on the way up to the garden. It ensured that I only needed to make one trip to and from the garden. They don’t sell the exact cart I had but, this cart from amazon would be a great place to keep tools both in the garden and in the shed.
2) 5 Gallon Buckets Are Your Friend – Five gallon buckets make great gardening companions if you do not want to invest in a gardening cart. I always had several of them. Not only are they great for putting weeds in them but when I did not have a cart, I always kept my hand tools in one while in the garden. You could also use one for storing garden tools in while they are in the shed, but you might want to drill a few holes in the bottom of the bucket to ensure that water does not collect in the bottom, this can cause rust to collect on tools.
3) Keeping Track of Tools in the Garden – When you are working in the garden it is all too easy to set a tool down and get distracted. This is how tools get forgotten and left out in the garden. Here is a great video on how to keep track of gardening tools when they are in the garden. Painted handles is not only a great way to make sure you can find your tools while they are in the garden, but it will also help to protect wooden handle tools from moisture.
4) Get a Set of Garage Wall Organizers in your Shed for Your Tools– Organized Living Garden Rack with Basket If you want to make sure tools all stay in the same spot when they are being stored these organizers can be a great way to make sure they do. Hooks let you store larger tools up off the ground and baskets give you a place to put your hand tools. The basket even comes off the rack so you can take it out to the garden, although I find it a bit small for that purpose. If you do not want to buy a pre-made organizer system, you can make one with hooks for your larger tools and a couple of wire baskets for smaller tools.
5) Designate a Specific Part of your Garage or Shed to Keep Tools – I struggle with this one. If I am running behind the temptation is to just toss the tools inside the door and be done. But this is a good way for tools to get misplaced or forgotten. If you put everything away and every tool has a place on the wall or in a bin, then you will know if you have forgotten anything before you walk away. Do a short mental inventory when you take your tools out to the garden, and check when you bring them back in. The best way to stay organized and keep track of everything is to simply make sure it is all put away when you are done.
Garden tools are expensive, and it is important to make sure you protect your investment by caring for them properly and keeping track of them when they are in the garden. If you make sure they stay clean, dry, and put away at all times, they will last far longer than if they end up being left out in the garden.