Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Winterize Your Landscape Equipment

The temperatures are getting colder and the days of rain will soon be turning in to days of snow.  Time to put away the lawn equipment and pull out the shovels and test out your snow blower.  Before you put away your landscape equipment, it is a good idea to winterize them to ensure a longer life and make sure they are ready for your return next spring.  Here are some helpful tips/ reminders brought to you by John Fech, a UNL Extension Educator.

Clean and sharpen garden tools before putting them away for winter to minimize rust and ensure that they are ready for use in the spring.

Remove soil, rust and other debris with a wire brush or steel wool.  It may be necessary to dissolve accumulated sap and resin on some pruning tools with a solvent, such as kerosene, and to loosen the pivot bolt and separate the blades.  Position the tool, using a bench vise or clamp if needed, so you can put the proper bevel on the cutting edge with a flat file or whetstone.  Remove any metal burrs from the backside of the cutting edge with 300 grit wet/dry sandpaper when sharpening is completed.  Finish with a light application of good quality oil to prevent rusting.

As you prepare your lawn mower and other tools for winter storage, don't forget to winterize your sprayers and fertilizer spreader.  Smooth, dependable pesticide application next summer depends largely on the care and maintenance that sprayers and spreaders receive over the winter.  Since the "pest season" is about over for this year, this is a good time to winterize your equipment. 

Apply oil to the bottom of the hopper and all moving parts.  Store the spreader with the shutter or gate fully open.

Compressed air sprayer tanks should be filled one-fourth full with mild dishwashing solution.  Shake the sealed tank to loosen any spray residues.  Pressurize the tank and spray out the water.  Drain the tank upside down until thoroughly dry.  Once dry, place a few drops of oil into the top of the pump cylinder.  Pump the cylinder several times to coat the cylinder and valves with an oil film.  Reassemble the sprayer before storing.

Nozzle tips and screens should be removed and cleaned with soapy water.  Clogged nozzle tips should be cleaned with a sliver of wood or other soft object, not with wire.  An old toothbrush, properly labeled as being meant for pesticide use and stored with the sprayer, works very well to clean spray residue and other deposits from nozzles.  Store nozzle tips and screens in diesel fuel or kerosene to prevent corrosion.

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