The garden trowel tackles many jobs around the home landscape as a versatile, all-purpose tool. Scooping, digging up the errant weed and quickly potting plants often causes this garden workhorse to be dropped where it is used in the garden. Like all garden tools, trowels need to be maintained to retain a sharp shovel blade and to prevent rust. Tools that receive proper care last longer, making performing garden tasks easier.
The lowly trowel often gets discarded in a mulch bag or dropped in the garden bed. Bring garden tools into the shed or garage after use and store tools above the floor of the storage area to limit exposure to moisture from the floor surfaces. Gardeners often forget to look for this small tool that can easily get lost among the annuals and perennials in a flower bed. Trowels left outdoors get exposed to moisture from dew and soil, in addition to a drenching from the rain.
Clean garden trowels after each use using a high-powered hose to remove soil buildup on the blade. Use mild dish detergent and water to remove tough stains. Do not scrape the trowel surface with sharp objects. Dry the trowel off with a soft towel. Pay particular attention to the point where the handle joins the metal blade.
Lubricate with Oil
Oiling the blade of a trowel helps limit the incidence of rust as well as controls rust spots on the blade. A smooth trowel blade slips more easily into the soil, allowing for considerably easier movement of even the driest soil. Spray a thin layer of a common lubricant like WD-40 to a clean, dry trowel blade. Olive oil or vegetable oil can also be used to lubricate a garden trowel blade. Apply a small amount to a clean cloth and rub the oil over the front and back of the blade. Hang the blade on a hook or place inside a gardening bag or bucket to limit contact with moist surfaces.
Use Steel Wool
Common steel wool, like the type that you clean your pots and pans with, works well to remove rust spots on metal garden tools. As soon as you notice spots appearing on the trowel blade, scrub the area with steel wool to remove the rust spots. Wipe the trowel blade clean; apply oil to all metal surfaces. Wear protective gloves to protect your fingers from steel shavings. Tackle large areas of rust using a steel brush and switch to the steel wool for finishing the surface.