It’s not ideal to have to purchase a new pair of garden shears every time they go blunt. The same goes with any other garden tools, (or any must have tools for that matter) so a better alternative is to spend a little time and sharpen your tools. So, you need to know how to sharpen garden tools effectively, so that they will work accordingly next time you use them.

Without sharpening your garden tools, you’ll find that when you cut tree branches, the cut will not be clean and precise. You may find that some of the tree branch is still stuck in the blades, and you end up ripping the tool away and damaging the tree in the process.

This can lead to diseasing of the tree or exposing it to unwanted insects. A sharp, clean cut will product an amount of sap or resin that will seal over the cut and protect it from any nasty’s.

So which garden tools are we talking about? Well, we can sharpen spades, hoe’s, loppers and shears/secateurs. We’ll go through a few of them and show you how to sharpen garden tools effectively

How to Sharpen Garden Shears / Secateurs / Loppers

As with many garden tools, a great sharpening stone will do the trick. But first things first. The sap that comes from trees can be somewhat corrosive which over time can damage your shear blades. Prevention is better than a cure in this case, so to try to clean up any remaining sap left on your tool.

This can be done by giving your blades a good wash with warm soapy water. Following this, it’s a good idea to rub vegetable oil over your blades. This will prevent rusting and ultimately, partial disintegration of your shears.

It is possible that your blades can get a nick in them. If this is the case, you can replace the blades which may be a cheaper option than purchasing a new pair of shears. Especially if they are top of the range. If they are good quality, there’s a very good chance the blades will dismantle easily for replacement.

Below is a brief video that shows you how to replace, clean and sharpen shearing blades.

 How to Sharpen a Garden Spade / Shovel

Having a well sharpened garden spade is going to make your life so much easier when it comes to digging into harder surfaces. I’m sure you know what I mean, the jarring of your foot on spade is not worth the pain.

To sharpen your spade, you’ll require a 10- or 12-inch mill bastard file. Before filing though, you’ll want to clean any dirt or grime off the blade. Another good idea is to use steel wool to rub over the blade, removing any light rust.

To sharpen your spade blade, hold the tool with the front blade facing you. Now, place your file at approximately 30°-45° and give it a firm push, working across the blade. Don’t pull back the file whilst still on the blade. The reason for this, is that a mill file only works in the forward direction. Lift your file and repeat the pushing motion again.

There’s no need to file the back of the spade blade. Once you’ve finished sharpening your shovel blade, apply a lubricant so that rust will be prevented in future. Dr. Gary Bachman from Southern Gardening explains this well below.


The upkeep of every garden tool is essential if you don’t intend purchasing new tools every weekend. Many people fall into the trap of thinking it’s all too hard, but this is far from the case. With a little know-how, anyone can keep their garden tools in good shape for many years to come.
If you have any great tips or tricks on how you sharpen your tools, feel free to share them below in the comments.

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