When you think of home organization tasks, you probably picture that nightmare junk drawer in the kitchen or your closet stuffed with clothes you never wear. But now that the warm weather has you spending more time outdoors, it’s high time to organize your yard and gardening gear, too.
But before you zip on over to the home center to pick up a carload of plants and soil, hit up your own garage, potting shed, or wherever your supplies have been hibernating this winter to refresh your memory on what you’ve got.
“Before you buy anything new, such as tools, gloves, and planters, shop at home first because there’s a good chance you already own it,” says Jamie Novak, author of “Keep This Toss That.” Because honestly, who can remember what was stashed in the garage last fall, and whether you still have leftover weed killer?
To help send you on your way this spring, here are seven smart ways to organize your gardening supplies so they aren’t a dirty mess you dread dealing with as you tend your plants this summer.
1. Take a tool inventory
If you can, unload all your gear from where it was stashed and sort it into categories, like with like. Once you’ve got an empty workspace, assess your shovels, rakes, watering cans, and hoses to determine what’s missing, what needs cleaning and sharpening, and what needs to be replaced.
Watch: How to Clean Garden Tools—Your Plants Will Thank You!
2. Hang a peg board
Are your tools a hot mess? Take this opportunity to put them away in an organized manner, hanging some on a peg board and slotting others into baskets on a shelving unit.
Novak suggests an over-the-door shoe organizer for trowels, spray bottles, gardening gloves, and other small items.
3. Sort and store seeds
Those spice jars aren’t just for cinnamon and nutmeg, says Novak. Once the spices are used up, they make excellent storage containers for seeds; ditto for the tiny tins that mints come in. Label each one with the seeds you have so you never mistake dill for mint again.
“Or organize your seed packets in a baseball card holder—like a three-ring binder with clear individual pockets,” she offers.
But whatever you do, “always store seeds in a cool, dry spot, like the basement so they’re ready for planting,” says Chris Lambton, pro gardener and co-host of HGTV’s “Going Yard.”
4. Clean and sharpen gardening tools
Dull tools won’t cut into the soil, so don’t even start to sow until your edges and blades are cleaned and honed.
Novak suggests wiping a piece of wax paper along tools (it cleans them and helps prevent rust) and running aluminum foil on edges to sharpen them.
Lambton recommends keeping gardening gear blade-side down in a bucket with a mixture of sand and mineral or baby oil. (Try a 3-to- ratio.)
“This method helps fight rust and makes sure tools are out of the elements until you’re ready for planting,” he says.
5. Set up a potting bench
Serious green thumbs designate a special spot to store gardening gear and containers. But if a whole shed isn’t sitting empty on your property, you might try co-opting a small portion of the workbench in your garage. You can also purchase a potting bench or repurpose one from an old bar cart, dresser, TV tray atop a table, or a bookcase.
6. Make a tool tote
Want to go smaller than a potting bench? The solution is a garden caddy.
Whether it’s an official tote with roomy pockets or a DIY version made from a basket, plastic bucket, or leftover wood pieces, this cool catchall can keep your most-used tools at the ready. Stock your portable garden organizer with a pair of gloves, fertilizing spray, kneeling pad, hand rake, and trowel.
7. Line up long handles
Stop leaning your rakes and shovels against the garage wall where they all fall down when your kid screeches in on his bike! The better way: Give over one whole wall (or a section of it) to these long-handled workhorses. Prop them up with nails or hooks that fit each piece of gear, and your favorite rake won’t ever get bent.