How To Store Garden Tools OUTSIDE: A Must Read Guide

You have just bought your first house with a garden. In excitement, you go to the gardening shop and stock up on every tool you think you need. The problem arises when you get home and discover you have nowhere to keep your new garden tools. Scratching your head, you turn to the internet and hopefully arrive at this article.  

Garden tools must be treated to prevent weather damage. Garden storage can be created from repurposed items or can be bought ready-made from a store. Garden tools should be stored in places where they are off the damp soil. Use roof overhangs, porches, and decks to keep tools dry. 

This article aims to assist you in solving the dilemma of where and how to keep and protect your garden tools when you are compelled to keep them outside. There are many answers, and it is open to you to discover how creative you can be in finding solutions to this problem. We will discuss the difficulties of keeping your tools outside and what can be done to overcome the issues. You will see suggestions on shop-bought solutions, solutions that involve adaptations of materials, and some unique, beautiful ideas for repurposing items to create garden tool storage.  

Problems With Storing Garden Tools Outside.

  • Deterioration of garden tools due to wear from the weather.
  • It is unsightly to have garden tools stored untidily in the garden.
  • It can be a safety hazard to have garden tools lying around.
  • Your garden implements are at risk of being stolen. 

Deterioration Of Garden Tools Due To Weather

It may seem that keeping garden tools outside would not be a problem. There are several issues with keeping implements outside. Garden tools deteriorate when they are exposed to elements of the weather. Various materials will deteriorate differently, but they will all have some degradation. The deterioration can range from breaking down plastics to rust on metal tools. 

The Problem Of Rust On Garden Tools.

Garden tools are commonly made up of different metals, including steel. Examples are rakes, spades, blades on cutting tools, and lawnmowers. The metals used in the manufacture of garden tools are all iron alloys. Alloys are metal compounds that include different metals. Iron alloys all contain iron. Although iron is a very useful metal because it adds strength to the alloy, it is also prone to rusting from moisture exposure.  

What Is Rust?

Rust occurs when iron or iron alloys are exposed to water and oxygen. The water does not have to be in large quantities. It can happen if there is high air humidity. The iron oxidizes ( loses electrons) and forms hydrated iron (III) oxide, which is reddish-brown and is known colloquially as rust. The loss of electrons causes the structure of the iron atoms to weaken. Therefore the implement becomes more liable to breaking. 

Do Aluminum Garden Tools Rust?

Aluminum does not rust because the surface is covered with a layer of aluminum oxide that prevents moisture from reaching the metal. There is, therefore, no change to the structure of the atoms, and the garden tool will retain its original strength. Aluminum garden tools will be a good purchase if you are keeping your tools outside. Aluminum is an expensive material, so you will pay a lot more for aluminum garden tools. It may also not be possible to find all the garden implements you need made in aluminum. 

How To Prevent Rust

To prevent rusting, it is necessary to stop the moisture from coming into contact with the metal. Several steps can be taken to reduce and prevent rusting. 

Cleaning Your Garden Tools.

It is essential to clean your tools thoroughly and dry them before storing them. You can use dishwashing soap or any degreasing agent to wash the implements. Sometimes sap can be very sticky and difficult to remove from implements, especially secateurs and loppers. Turpentine is helpful to remove the sap. 

Oiling Prevents Rust.

It is beneficial to add a thin layer of oil to all metal parts. Oil and water do not mix due to their atomic structure. The oil, therefore, does not allow the water to come into contact with the metal and stops rusting. You should avoid oils that become tacky and sticky as they can interfere with the tool’s functioning. Olive oil is commonly used but is not a good choice because it becomes thick and sticky. Various oils may be used, and some specialty garden shops sell horticultural oil to use on garden tools. This oil is often expensive. You can find a cheaper alternative at most hardware stores. Look for a three-in-one multi-purpose oil that lubricates, penetrates rust, and cleans. 

Painting Prevents Rust.

Paint coats the metal, preventing moisture from having any contact with the metal and thus stops rusting. Although this is possible with some metal tools, it is not always practical. For example, if you painted a garden fork’s tines, the paint would soon be worn off through use. Painting certain metal parts could also impair their functioning if not done carefully.

Anti-Rust Tool Storage Bucket.

An innovative idea to store garden tools is to keep them in a bucket. Fill the bucket with river sand and pour in enough multi-purpose oil to moisten the sand. The sand must not be sloppy from oil, just damp. Push the metal ends of your tools into the sand and store them like this. The oil deters rusting, and the sand helps to keep the edges of the tools sharp. The bucket should be stored under an overhanging roof or some other covered area where rainwater will not collect in it. This method works very well for smaller tools but obviously will not be practical for larger implements. 

Reducing Plastic Deterioration. 

Plastic, when exposed to extreme heat and cold, becomes brittle and cracks easily. If you cannot keep your garden tools out of the elements, consider applying plastic protectants to your garden tools’ plastic parts. Plastic protectant can be bought at hardware stores and even automobile parts shops. You will probably need to reapply this quite frequently, but it adds significantly to your implements’ longevity. 

Preserving Wooden Garden Tools.

Wood exposed to moisture is liable to rot and disintegrate. Excessive sun exposure causes wood to crack. The best way to preserve wood is to either varnish it with an exterior varnish or paint it. Wood is used primarily in the handles of tools. Therefore, painting or varnishing the handles does not impact the tool’s functioning and is not worn off quickly by use. 

Other Disadvantages Of Keeping Tools Outside.

 Tools kept outside may attract the notice of criminals and could be stolen. The risk of this will vary according to your residential location. In some areas and some countries, leaving your tools outside in plain view is not a good option. Another safety issue to consider is that leaving your garden implements out allows criminals to either use the tools to gain access to your house or to assault you with those tools. If you have to leave your garden tools outside, try to hide them from view. 

Power tools such as lawnmowers and saws must be protected from dew and rain to continue working correctly. You can use plastic sheets to cover these tools to protect them from moisture. 

Storage Benches.

It is possible to buy or make garden benches where the seat lifts to reveal an enclosed storage area. These storage benches can be made from wood or plastic and can vary in size. They provide a well-thought-out solution to storing garden tools when you have to keep your tools outside.  The benches protect the implements while offering seating either on a patio or around the garden. Implements are tucked safely out of view of potential criminals, and the tools are saved from exposure to the weather. 

Storage Cupboards

Many hardware and gardening stores sell plastic cupboards of varying sizes. These cupboards are ideal for putting outside against a house or garden wall. They can be used to store tools, and they will keep them safe from the effects of the weather. The cupboards also allow tools to be stored out of sight, enhancing the garden’s visual aesthetics and deterring opportunistic criminals. The plastic cabinets are usually made to withstand the sun. To prolong the cupboard’s life, it should be placed in an area where it receives the minimum amount of sun.  

Wooden Cupboards And Sheds

Wooden cupboards and sheds can also be situated in gardens to store tools and miscellaneous gardening equipment. They require some upkeep and should be varnished or treated with a wood preserver once a year or every second year. They can be very rustic and add to the overall visual effects in the garden. 

Mailbox Storage

Some ingenious gardeners started keeping their small garden tools in mailboxes, and the idea has caught on. Mailboxes are waterproof and can be painted or decorated to fit in with the theme of the garden. Many are so attractively decorated that they can become a focal piece in a garden. Small hand tools fit into mailboxes and can be safely stored in the garden, close at hand for use.

Garden Storage Trolleys

Some companies make garden trolleys that have holders and pockets in which to store your implements and supplies. Some only have the capacity to hold small hand tools, but others have space to keep larger implements as well. Garden trolleys can vary in price depending on what material they are made from and the complexity of the design. They are helpful as they allow you to wheel your garden gadgets along to wherever you are working. 

Hooks For Hanging Garden Tools

The most crucial element of caring for your garden tools is to keep them dry. If you do not have a shed or cupboard for outside storage, invest in some hooks. Hooks come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Visit your local hardware store and browse through all the available hooks, and you will be sure to find hardware that suit your needs. You can attach these hooks to the side of the house, preferably under a roof overhang, and store your garden implements on them. Some people even use hooks to hang up their wheelbarrows. You will need to mount the hooks onto the wall using a drill, bolts, and raw plugs. Do not buy the stick-on hooks as these will not be strong enough to hold garden tools. When mounting your hooks, ensure you choose the correct size masonry drill bit for the raw plugs and bolts’ size.  

Pegboard Hooks

Some people prefer to attach their hooks to a pegboard that is screwed into the wall. The tools are hung from the hooks. The pegboard must be firmly secured to the wall as it will bear a relatively heavy load. There are various styles of hooks that can be attached to the pegboard. The pegboard has a less permanent arrangement of hooks and allows them to be rearranged as necessary. 

High Hooks

Many people forget about the space above their head height that can be utilized for storage. To maximize the wall space available, you can attach hooks high up on the wall. You can use an extender pole to lift the garden tools up to hang them on the hooks. Cup hooks used by plumbers to support pipes are handy and cost-effective. The pipe supports have differing diameters, so you can choose the ones that will best fit your garden tools.

Hangar Hooks

Old wire hangars can be hung on the wall. On the bottom wire of the hangar, wind some extra wire leaving perpendicular pieces sticking out.  Drill a hole in the handles of your hand tools. Thread some rope through the hole and loop the rope over the perpendicular pieces of wire on the hangar.  


When hanging hooks or pegboards with hooks, be careful that the hooks are firmly attached in such a way as to reduce the chance of heavy garden tools falling onto anyone. Garden tools have sharp edges that can cause nasty injuries if they fall.

Outside Shelving Unit

A plastic or wooden shelving unit placed outside will allow you to keep your garden implements and supplies that do not easily hang from hooks. You can buy a plastic or wooden shelf unit from a hardware store, or you can build your own. Shelving units can be purchased with or without doors. The shelves may be free-standing, or you can attach them to a wall.

Tool Buckets.

Keeping your tools in a large bucket can have numerous advantages. It allows you to quickly move the tools around when you are working in the garden. You can use the bucket as a garden stool if you struggle to kneel or crouch down. The bucket can be stored in a convenient place next to the house and protects the tools from weather damage. Obviously, not all tools will fit into a bucket, but it will undoubtedly take the smaller tools. You could also use a large dustbin on wheels to store some of the larger tools. 

Store Garden Tools In A Pipe.

An easy way to tidy up your garden supplies is to use PVC plumbing pipes. These come in a variety of diameters. They can be attached vertically to a piece of wood that forms a base. Simply slot the tools in with the handle side down. The PVC pipes can also be attached horizontally to a wall. The tools slide into the pipes so that they are positioned parallel to the wall. PVC pipes are cheap and easy to work with, making a good garden hack for storing tools. 

Pallet Storage.

Pallets attached to a wall provide an ideal space to store your garden tools. The gaps in the pallet structure allow you to simply and quickly slide garden implements into place. Remember, if the pallet is made of wood, it needs to be treated with wood preservatives to enhance its durability. A pallet attached to the wall is an ideal way of keeping your tools off the ground and out of the moisture. 

Golf Caddy Storage

Golfers who have turned to gardening have used their old golfing caddies to store garden tools. The beauty of this is it is easy to pull your garden tools along with you to the area of the garden where you are working.   

Hosepipes And The Weather

Hosepipes are perhaps the most frustrating garden implement to store and maintain. You want to keep them in such a way that they do not tangle or get kinked. Hosepipes are particularly prone to deterioration from the weather. The sun cracks the pipes, and if left out in the winter, the water freezes in the pipes and splits them open. Hosepipes may be used daily, and so storage options need to be very quick and easy. 

Methods Of Storing Hosepipes

Over the years, gardeners have developed a variety of different methods to store hose pipes. There are several different hose pipe wheel designs where the hose pipe is rolled onto the wheel. Some of the wheels are attached to the wall, and some are portable. 

In recent years hose pipe pots have become popular. These are large pots made of varying materials in which the hose pipe can be rolled up. There is usually a hole on one side at the base of the pot through which the hose pipe feeds. Many of these pots are decorative and used as features in the garden. 

Galvanized buckets have also become popular for storing hose pipes and add a rustic old world charm to the garden. 

A variety of hooks and hitching post hooks have been designed over the years. These range from simplistic hooks to complicated antler hooks. These are sometimes sold attached to a pole. The pole is secured by burying one end deep in the ground or concreting it into place. These devices are popular with gardeners as they are easy to use, and the hose pipe does not get tangled when it is hung on them. 

A unique and interesting way of storing your hose pipe is to attach an old car tire rim to the fence or wall. The tire rim can be painted and detailed to make it a focal point in the garden. Some people like to keep their hoses in a planter. This method looks very natural in the garden.

Which Method Works Best For Hoses.

There is quite a lot of controversy about which method is best. Still, the majority of gardeners seem to prefer some kind of hook system where the hose pipe is looped around the hook. Wheel systems that wind up hose pipes receive criticism for being difficult to use, and the hose pipe tangles up often. 

Maintaining Your Hose Pipe.

It is important to drain your hose pipe and store it off the ground. A hosepipe at ground level will be more at risk of damage from the elements. Frost and ice will crack the hose, and you will need to buy a new hose pipe every year. 

Under Deck Storage

If you have a deck, you can create storage space under the deck. The storage space should be large enough to hold your garden tools and the hose pipe. This storage area keeps tools out of sight and protects them from the weather. It requires considerable skill to build and so it may be best to call someone in to help you create this space if you have never done work of this kind before.   

Repurposing Items To Use For Garden Tool Storage.

Many creative and innovative people use discarded or unwanted items to store garden tools. An example is an old filing cabinet turned on its side, and the top part cut off, painted, and garden tools stored in it. Another is an old cannon shell casing that was used to store garden brooms and rakes. Baskets are popular storage items because of their rustic appeal. Car tires may be cut to make holders for hose pipes. Rusted spades can have hooks welded to them, and then they are attached to the wall to provide a place to hang the current garden tools. People show remarkable ingenuity and artistry in these adaptations, and they can provide significant interest to a garden. 

Roof Rafters For Garden Storage

You may think that your garage is too small to store any garden tools, but you can use the garage rafters and walls to create storage space. This can be done by attaching hooks, or PVC plumbing pipe or pipe supports to the rafters and walls. You can lift tools onto or off the rafter hooks by using an extension pole. If you are adept at building, you could try a more complicated system where the hooks are attached to a bar. The bar is connected by a spring to the roof rafters. By attaching a lever, you can lower or raise the bar.     

Garden Features

Some gardeners build or keep structures in their gardens to create interest. These can be adapted into hidden cupboards that can be used to store garden implements. Examples are pyramid-type structures, car relics, and industrial or agricultural machinery.

A Word On Power Tools

Every effort should be made to house power tools inside a proper structure. Not only are they expensive and therefore liable to theft, but their motors do not withstand wet conditions. Damage to engines can be costly to repair and may even be irreparable, resulting in the loss of the machine. If you cannot store power tools inside, cover them securely with a waterproof tarp.


There are many ways to store your garden tools outside. Some can be very simple to create, and others require some expertise in their construction. The important take-home message should be that the tools need to stay dry, and there needs to be limited sun exposure. Care of your tools will make them more resilient to weather damage when they are stored

outside. You can get very creative and use storage ideas to generate interest and focal points in your garden. 


BBC Bitesize. Redox, rusting, and iron – (CCEA).

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