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What’s the Best Way to Store Garden Tools?

Once you have a yard to care for, you’ll need tools to help keep it looking nice, and to plant decorative bushes or flowers. If you have a vegetable garden and/or fruit trees, you’ll need at least a rake, hoe, and some pruning and planting tools. If you buy a house with a rather wild backyard that will need some clearing, you’ll need other tools to get it tamed to your liking.

Whatever the situation, it’s inevitable that you’ll end up with more and more tools as the years go by and you discover that you need a particular tool for a particular situation or one to make an annual chore go more easily. Along with these tools, you’ll need to learn how to store these garden tools.

Some of the best ways to store your garden tools are: Having a shed, wall mounted racks, floor stands, storage boxes and pouches, rolling cart and single wall mounted hooks for heavier tools.

How Do You Store Your Garden Tools Outside?

Ideally, you’ll have your tools stored in a safe place in your garage or a shed. This helps keep moisture and dampness from causing rust. Even if you store them in a carport open on two or three sides, they’ll still be subject to the natural humidity in the air even if they’re protected from rain. However, you may not have plans or space for an actual shed, or you may have a carport rather than an enclosed garage. How to store those garden tools?

If you have a carport, you can attach a board to one wall with hooks to hang up the longer tools, such as rakes, hoes and shovels. Many of these now come with holes at the ends of the handles for just this purpose, or you can drill into the handle to make a hole for hanging. Smaller tools can be stored in a wooden box.

Try to keep the tools standing upright in the box if possible. If they lay against each other, any rust that forms on one tool can easily spread to the next. Just standing the larger ones up against a wall is not a good idea. Not only can they fall but standing metal tools on the ground or a surface such as concrete makes them more susceptible to moisture, eventually leading to rust.

It’s best to put your storage on a side wall rather than the back of the carport to keep them from being easily seen from the street. This keeps them safer from thieves. For those with a carport open on three sides, you won’t have any choice in placement. You may have a carport that is open on all sides with a roof or just park your vehicles outside. In this case, you can make your hanging rack on the side of the house.

If all you have are small hand tools, such as diggers, hand rakes and bulb planters, you can buy a mailbox and mount it in your back yard within easy reach. A plastic box won’t rust, and so won’t transfer rust to your tools. Mount it above ground at a convenient height to keep tools easily accessible and keep it safe from ground moisture and from rain splashing up from the ground.

A large plastic bucket is a good place to store smaller tools. The tall, 5-gallon buckets can even handle a pair of loppers with ease. As long as you keep it out of the rain it will protect your tools. One good method is to fill your bucket with sand moistened with oil. Stir it in to lightly moisten the sand, then insert your tools face down into the sand.

Garden hoses need some care as well. Rolling them up and hanging them when not in use keeps them from being run over and out of the way. It’s also important to drain and hang them over the winter to keep them from deteriorating or even bursting from water freezing inside. Invest in a hose holder which can be mounted on the wall of your home or on a pole.

Some people just get a large, strong hook, but hanging a hose from a hook can cause crimps in your hose that will not only close up, keeping water from coming through, but will eventually cause places for the hose to crack. It’s much better to have a hose holder that features a larger, rounded platform for the hoses. If you have toys that need to be stored as well check out my article How Do You Store Outdoor Toys for Winter?

How Do You Store Your Garden Tools in a Shed?

If you’ve ever tried to search through a bunch of long-handled tools standing in the corner of your shed, you’ll know what a pain that can be, especially since it’s so easy to knock one or more down while pulling out the one you want. Creating organized storage for these can be as easy as nailing up a 2 x 4 and installing heavy-duty hooks to hang your longer tools. For the smaller ones, you can use hooks as well.

If you have a lot of them, perhaps using a pegboard may be right for you. You can even hang a large, heavy plastic bucket on the wall to hold those smaller hand tools. What you choose will depend on the number and types of tools you have and the available space you have.

How Do You Store Garden Tools Safely?

Storing your garden tools safely means keeping them from possible theft. It also means keeping them from just standing up in a corner or against a wall where one can accidentally be kicked or bumped, causing it to fall and whack your ankle or make a great item to trip over. Attaching hooks to a back door or inside your utility room makes a great way to store them safely. Almost any garden tool can be hung, large or small. Even tools such as loppers come with hanging holes on the ends of the handles in many cases.

If you have a lot of tools, you can invest in a small shed made just for garden tools. These are about the size of an old free-standing clothes closet. They usually have a shelf for the smaller tools and a place below to stand up larger tools and even your rolled hoses. They can be put almost any place outside, and usually feature a slanted roof to keep off the rain. One great advantage is that they have a door that can be locked to protect your tools from prying eyes and itchy fingers.

How Do I Keep My Garden Tools from Rusting Over Winter?

Keep your tools clean – After use, clean dirt from your shovel and hoe blades with a hose and dry them before putting them away. Use a rag to dry any cutting blades such as clippers, pruners and loppers. While these probably won’t seem wet, the juices from the stems or twigs being cut stay on the blades.

Be sure to clean off any sticky sap. You can use dish soap and water, then rinse with clean water. If you use a pruning saw, make sure to dry the blades, removing any stuck-on sawdust. You can use a rag and carefully wipe from the base of the blade to the tips.

Remove rust – Closely inspect your tools before storage and remove any rust you see. Even small spots of rust will spread, so use steel wool to get it off before storage.

Store your tools in a dry area – Hang them up if possible. Don’t leave larger tools such as shovels standing on the ground, which will encourage rust to form.

Sharpen your blades once a year – This will smooth out burrs and nicks besides keeping them sharp. You can use a knife sharpener or a flat file. Sharpening them before winter storage means they will be ready to go in the spring.

Protect with oil – Three-in-one multi-purpose oil or mineral oil are also good to protect all metal parts. Make sure you get some soaking into moving parts, such as the hinges of cutting tools. Some sources recommend using boiled linseed oil for tools that are used on food plants. Be sure to oil the wooden handles. The salt from sweat is not good for the wood, so even if the handles are coated, an oil coating will protect them over the winter.

Can I Use WD-40 or Motor Oil to Prevent Rust on Tools?

You can use either one. Just remember to apply a thin coat. Be sure to get it into any joints and around connecting bolts. Use a clean rag to distribute the oil everywhere else and clean off the excess. You should also check your tools periodically, especially if you haven’t used them in a while. An oil coating attracts dust, so if some tools are not used very often, you may have to clean them off and put on a new protective coating.

How Do I Remove Rust from My Garden Tools?

One of the easiest ways is to soak rusty tools in white vinegar or cleaning vinegar. Cleaning vinegar is a little stronger. Soak them for 24 hours, or at least overnight. Some rust will simply flake off during this time because of the action of the vinegar. Try to soak any scissor-type tools such as clippers in the open position to make sure the vinegar gets to all parts of both blades.

This may be practically impossible with such tools as large loppers, which are tough to get to stand head down in a jar or can. In this case, try to loosen the blades with the bolt that holds them together to create a little distance between the blades. Of course, if the bolt itself has a lot of rust around it, this may not be possible either.

You may have to remove heavy rust in more than one vinegar session once you can get the blades apart. If you have tools coated with chrome or chrome paint, try WD-40 to remove the rust. Vinegar can remove the chrome paint as well as the rust.

Next use steel wool or a heavy-duty scouring pad of some type to get off the stubborn spots. The scouring pad may work better to get into tight places. Open and close any clippers or loppers to make sure you get into all the rusty places. Then rinse your tools with clear water.

Dry the tool thoroughly. You may have to let it sit for a while to dry completely in places you can’t reach. Then apply the oil of your choice to the metal and wipe it clean with a soft rag to get the oil distributed and make sure there isn’t too much.

Top 5 Garden Tool Organizers

Wall-mounted racks – Can be fancy or as simple as attaching a 2 x 4 to your shed wall studs or the inside of a door and mounting hooks on them for your larger tools. Using a pegboard with hooks is great for storing smaller tools. Additionally, having specific places for each tool will alert you if one is missing, perhaps forgotten out in the yard, so you can go find it before it’s left out in the rain.

Stands – Are available with dividers to stand up your long tools. You can actually make one yourself using a couple of wooden pallets and some 2 x 4s. Installing heavy caster wheels will enable it to be moved around easily.

Storage pouches – Or bags are a very useful way to store smaller garden tools. They usually come with handles so they can be hung on hooks, then carried to your next yard project easily. Some even come with handy dividers.

Rolling carts – Easily solve the problem of how to store garden tools while making it easy to get them right to your project. In addition, it solves the problem of discovering you need another tool and having to walk back to get it.

Single wall hooks – Are good for utilizing narrow wall spaces. You can get U-shaped hooks with two prongs that will keep your tools from swinging. Just make sure to install your hooks on wall studs or walls sturdy enough to handle the weight. Some tools such as shovels can get fairly heavy. If you want to make your own storage box read my article How Do You Make a Waterproof Storage Box? for tips on building a waterproof storage box.


There are plenty of ways to store your garden tools, both inside and out. What you choose will depend on the places available for them, the types and sizes of tools you have, and the number of tools you have. Having specific storage places for them will make them easier to find when needed and keep them from getting lost. Preparing them for winter storage will make them last longer. As with any tool, they need a little care to keep them working for you. It just makes sense to do what you can to protect them.