While you wouldn't forget to wash your hands after working in the garden or to brush your teeth before heading to bed, you might not realize that your garden tools need the same daily care. Before long, the tools begin to deteriorate -- but so gradually that you may not notice until it's too late. Caring for tools is far easier than working with dull or rusted ones and cheaper than buying new ones every few years.
Well-maintained tools make every task more agreeable. Sharp garden shears will trim grass with ease, and a well-honed shovel will slice through soil efficiently. The garden benefits from your efforts, too: A keen blade on a pruner, lopper, or lawn mower cuts cleanly, allowing plants to heal more quickly.
Taking care of tools also makes sense economically. Tools seldom become obsolete; most will be as efficient and reliable decades from now as they are today. And some become more valuable over time as collectible antiques or practical family heirlooms. Just ask Martha: she uses several tools inherited from her father to help keep her gardens beautiful. So take a few minutes at the end of each day to wipe off dirt and moisture, and a couple of hours every few months to sharpen dulled edges, grease creaky hinges, and replace missing parts. Set aside a corner of your garage, toolshed, or basement as a tune-up area -- because once you're organized, keeping tools in pristine condition will become an easy habit.