As the busy yard work season comes to an end, you’re probably thrilled to be hiding all that equipment away until next spring! But don’t move so fast – there are a few things you can do to ensure your lawn care tools stay healthy over their (and your) much needed break. Winterizing your equipment will protect it when not in use and prolong its life. Take a few extra minutes this year to make sure your tools stay in tip-top shape and will be ready for you when the grass starts to grow again!

Start by draining the oil. Stagnant oil in stored equipment will get sludgy and decrease the efficiency of your engine. Drain the oil into a catch pan and dispose of it according to your city ordinance will keep things free of sludge. Your engine will run smoother with fresh oil come springtime. Changing out all the filters can also help. Dirty fuel filters slow down the engine and dirty air filters can clog the motors with debris. Cleaning or replacing your filters will ensure good working order when they start back up. Routinely check throughout the season as well; clearing debris regularly will help prolong the life of the filters.

Protecting or draining fuel before storage will help prevent rough starts next season. For bigger tanks with plenty of leftover fuel, add a stabilizer to keep gas fresh for about six months. Smaller tools, like weed whackers and trimmers, can be more easily drained before storage. Try to avoid leaving full gas cans sitting around for a long period of time. The fuel will absorb moisture and make motors run rough when used if the fuel was tainted. If it hasn’t been sitting around too long already, empty the gas can into your car and start with a fresh can when it’s time to start up the lawn care duties again.

Maintenance on your mower, trimmer, and other power equipment will help stop rust and deterioration. Giving all moving parts a good scrub and inspection will stop damage over the course of storage. Clear away dirt and debris from blades, filters and moving parts. If you find any rust, gently scrape it off with a wire brush and spray with a rust-inhibiting enamel. Removing and cleaning the spark plugs will ensure better starts, even after being stored away. Remove plugs with a socket wrench, spray with brake cleaner and scrub gently with a wire brush.

Inspect for worn, broken or missing parts. Check for screws or nuts that may have fallen out or become loose. Make sure the O-rings are intact and are still providing a solid seal on the gas caps. Cracked, brittle, and missing parts should be replaced immediately, otherwise you may find yourself shopping for new tools next summer.

Taking a few minutes to winterize your lawn and garden equipment now will save you hours of time next season. Taking care of your lawn and garden equipment will help it provide the power and service you need to tackle your yard and make it beautiful next year!