Here in the Southeast, winters aren’t nearly as harsh as in other regions, but home landscape enthusiasts and professionals still must prepare for cold weather. Winterizing lawn equipment by following these tips ensures we’ll be ready when next spring calls us back into the yard.
Once the leaves finish falling, it’s time to ready your power tools for winter storage.
For gas-powered equipment:
- Drain the fuel by running the engine out gas, or fill the tank with fresh gas and add a fuel stabilizer. If you opt for the latter, use as much fresh gas as possible since gas older than 30 days cannot be properly stabilized. Run the engine for a few minutes to get the fresh gas through the engine.
- Replace the oil with fresh and change oil and air filters.
- Check all nuts and bolts to be sure none have vibrated loose.
- Inspect wheels, belts and other moving parts, replacing any that appear worn or cracked.
- Move batteries and chargers for battery operated equipment indoors rather than leaving them in the garage for the winter. Exposure to winter’s temperature fluctuations shortens battery life and may cause premature failure. Carefully coil any power cords and store in a garage or shed.
- If a recent mowing left your grass with a ragged appearance, it’s time to remove the blade and have it sharpened. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions for recommended sharpening techniques, or find a local shop to sharpen the blade for you.
Hand Shears and Cutting Tool
- Clean your shears and loppers with steel wool and mineral spirits or a foaming-type bathroom cleaner.
- Check the tension screws and sharpen blades using a broad file only. Beware — using a power grinder may cause metal blades to overheat and lose their tempering, making them more likely to chip or break.
- Clean garden hand tools with dishwashing liquid and dry thoroughly. Smooth any rusted spots with steel wool or a wire brush, and sharpen blades of shovels and hoes with a file.
- Apply a light coat of multi-purpose oil to all metal surfaces, and treat any wooden handles to a coat of linseed oil.
Hoses and Sprinkler Systems
- Drain garden hoses by lifting them overhead one section at a time until empty.
- Check for leaks and repair or replace damaged sections.
- Replace any worn washers you see, and then store your hoses in a garage or shed out of the sun. Exposure to UV light reduces a hose’s usable lifespan.
- Drain and store hoses after each use throughout late fall and winter.
- For an in-ground irrigation system, consider hiring a professional to protect it from freezing. For most homeowners it is well worth the moderate cost. The process requires careful calibration of an air compressor to avoid damaging in-ground sprinklers.
- Clean pressure washers, too, making sure their pumps function properly before storing.
Pots and Containers
- Don’t forget about these lovelies. As soon as your potted plants die back, empty, wash and sterilize the containers with a 4-to-1 ratio of water to bleach.
- Store pots in a shed or garage to keep them dry. They will be ready for refilling next spring.