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Garden Cultivator Care & Maintenance

By Jack S. Waverly ; Updated September 21, 2017

Garden cultivators are a group of tools used to maintain and care for garden spaces. They can be either mechanical, such as tillers, or manually operated such as hoes, rakes and shovels. Good care and maintenance of your tools can ensure their durability over the years. Regular maintenance can be achieved by having a set routine that is followed throughout the growing season.


Use the cultivator as intended. Improper use and handling will cause the tool to require more care and maintenance as well as shorten the lifespan of the tool. Purchase tools with sturdy handles and metal parts. Make sure the connections between the handle and metal are tight and well made. Hold several cultivators in your hand to determine which has the best fit. Pick the heaviest cultivator so that the weight does more work than the person. This helps eliminate parts from becoming loose and slipping off in mid-stroke.


Clean cultivators after each use. Dirt clinging to tools can erode metal surfaces. Washing tools with a hard water spray, such as a hose or kitchen faucet, can remove most dirt and grime from cultivators. A wire brush can remove other dirt that proved too difficult for water spray to remove. Another method of removing hard dirt is to fill a bucket with sand; then use the cultivator in the sand as you would dirt. The sand acts as an abrasive to the dirt.

Wood and Oil

Wood handles require a scheduled maintenance of sanding and oiling to remain free of debris and damage caused by insets and weather. This schedule can be as little as once yearly to remain effective. Wipe off the handle with a rag and as little water as possible. Sand down the handle surface with fine sandpaper to remove burrs, particles and fractures. Dust off the handle and apply linseed oil by rubbing it into the handle. Apply the oil until the handle will accept no more. Allow the handle to dry and then rub it clean.


After removing dirt and cleaning the tools, storage is another important consideration. Keep cultivators off the floor. The potential for rust or mold from contact with concrete or dirt floors is good. Road salt can also stick to the tools, causing corrosion of the metal parts and fractures in the wood. Long-handled tools should be hung on walls securely. Short-handle tools can be stored in drawers or on table stops that are kept clean.

Pruning Tools

Maintaining pruning tools can be achieved by keeping blades sharp and hinges working. Lubricating oil sprayed on hinges after cleaning helps ensure they stay mobile. Blades may need to be disassembled before sharpening. Use a whetstone to sharpen blades. Use a black marker to mark the tip of the blade; when the mark is completely gone, the blade is sharp. Sharpen only beveled edges (edges with a point).