For all uncoated metalwork items which are left in the natural raw state to rust, the life of the metal can be extended if cared for on an annual basis. Alternatively if the piece is to remain in situ then prior to installing it, some treatment can be applied to help prolong the life.

Temporary placement

For items such as plant stakes or support hoops which can be removed and stored once the plant has been cut back or has died, these items can benefit from the following:

  1. Wire brush, use sandpaper or an angle grinder with a flap disc to remove any build up of rust. This is more relevant to the section which is placed in the ground.
  2. Clean the area after rust removal with citrus juice (lemon, lime juice) as the citric acid will help in the rust removal and is a non toxic cleaner.
  3. Purchase a rust converter, preferably in a liquid form such as Jenolite Rust Converter / Bilt Hamber Hydrate 80 / Hammerite Krust.
  4. Follow the instructions as per the label on whichever you have purchased. Cover all of the metal especially the bottom section and, if you have garden stakes with baskets, the metal basket since this is finer sized steel and will rust faster.
  5. The metal will darken in colour usually to a blackish grey colour which is normal and this is the protective coating. Bear in mind over time this coating will wear off so it is not permanent.
  6. It is advisable do a test section before applying to the whole item as it depends on what rustic look you want for your garden. At a minimum, applying to the section where it will be inserted into the ground will help slow the rusting process.

Permanent or semi permanent placement

For items such as plant support frames or lobster pots which can be left in the garden, these items can benefit from the following:

  1. Follow the above steps from 3 onwards BEFORE placing the item into the garden. Preventative is better than a cure.
  2. You can purchase a decent brand of metal paint such as Hammerite direct to rust or Rust Oleum all surface paint, as both of these requires no primer.
  3. Follow the instructions as per the label. Paint the section of metal which is going to be inserted into the ground. Two coats is usually sufficient.
  4. Yearly maintenance is as above with sandpaper for the above ground metal (if you wish to do so but not always necessary) followed by a citric cleaner which is safe non toxic and if you want to go further, then any of the above listed converters.