Get lawn equipment ready for winter

I know it’s only September and the leaves have just begun to display their autumn colors for those of us in the northern hemisphere, but it’s time to prep the yard equipment for winter. Or, at the very least, plan to do so.

This is the time of year when people begin to think about the winter tools, like snow blowers and shovels. It’s great to plan for winter, but don’t forget the equipment that you’ll ignore for the next several months. Your mower, trimmer, and so on need a little prep before they go into hibernation. Being organized about things end of season also helps things to be organized come spring. The following steps are how I get my summer yard equipment ready for winter storage.

Gas-powered tools

It’s important to drain the oil out of a mower before you put it away for the winter. Old oil gets nasty as it sits and gross oil will make your mower run poorly next year. You’ll find a little stopper underneath the engine; pull it out to drain the oil into a container.

Here’s a pro tip: I put a piece of duct tape on the oil cap so that next spring I remember not to try to start it without any oil in the engine.

Additionally, let the mower run until all you’ve used all of the gas that’s in the tank. Old gas can do serious damage to an engine that requires costly repairs. The same goes for the trimmer and other gas-powered tools.

Alternatively, you can pour an additive into the tank that will allow that gas to keep for about six months. If you’ve got some unused, unleaded gas left over in the tank, funnel it into the car and add fresh gas to your tank in the spring.

Right before I put these tools away, I take a look at the spark plugs. These get dirty with use, and it’s easier to clean/replace them now instead of rushing out next spring when you want to use the thing. A wire brush will clean off dirty plugs. If they’re a real mess, just replace them for about five bucks.

Hand tools

Equipment like rakes, trimmers, and such require less TLC, but still appreciate a bit of attention. I like to lubricate moving parts like hedge trimmers (see manufacturer’s instructions) before putting these things away, and give them a good cleaning. Again, you’re doing your future self a favor here and ensuring an easy transition back to spring.

Find a winter storage spot

When the sun is warm I keep the mower, trimmer, wheel barrel, and hand tools right near the door of our shed. During the winter, I take the time to re-arrange things in the shed so that summer items are stored well in the back. That way, I can fit the winter tools right up from where I’ll need them.

Whatever storage spot you choose, make sure your equipment will be protected from the worst of winter weather, like ice, snow, and water.

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