Now that the weather is warming up and the April showers have encouraged May flowers, some homeowners may be looking at their property and thinking that something more should be done with it. Flowers in the front yard always add more colour and appeal, while there’s something to be said for how calming a garden in the backyard can be.
Whether you’re getting ready for another year of maintaining an existing garden, or think that this year is when you finally try to nurture your first, do it safely! Follow these tips to ensure that gardening is a rewarding and safe experience, rather than one that results in injury.
1) Use Gloves
This seems like a very basic, “no brainer,” but a lot of people forgo the use of gloves thinking that they are either “wimpy,” or distance your connection with nature by not letting you get your hands dirty.
Wearing gloves does two things; it protects your skin from possible physical injuries, and it also shields your skin from exposure to infection. For example, if you’re working a garden and you’ve recently had a paper cut, you’re exposing that cut to dirt, fungi, insect bites, animal droppings, thorns, and other hazards. Gloves negate all this risk, and they keep your hands clean as well, so get some gardening gloves—either high quality leather, or disposable models from a thrift store—and use them while you work.
2) Cover Up
Farmers and labourers in fields all over the world do this, and for good reason. If you spend too much time out in the sun, you can at best, get sunburn and, at worst, develop skin cancer. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you by minimizing your skin’s exposure to sunlight while you work. Remember that the peak hours for sunlight are between 11am and 4pm, so either avoid these times, or cover up appropriately, use sunscreen, or try to stay in the shade.
3) Avoid Sustained, Repetitive Motion
In the same way that some people get sore muscles from using a mouse at the computer or typing for too long, the same thing can happen with gardening. Try not to perform a repeating action for too long a period of time, as this can hurt your muscles as well as your posture, resulting in sore, strained muscles in the back, legs, arms, wrists and hands. Try to limit your repetitive tasks to about 15 minutes, then switch over to another activity, and rotate your chores.
4) Use Tools
While some gardeners may want their efforts to be as natural as possible, you can hurt yourself if you don’t use the proper tools. A hand shovel is better for digging than just using your actual hands. Clipping flowers and bushes with proper clippers rather than just trying to snap and break twigs with your hands will also prevent injuries. Always use the proper tool for the job at hand.
5) Respect Chemicals
If you’re using additional chemicals in your garden such as fertilizers, supplements, or other nutrients for plants, follow the directions faithfully. If the directions advise covering your hands and not making skin contact with the chemicals do this. If the directions advise not breathing in the fumes too deeply, follow this advice. These chemicals can inflict profound damage on the human body if they are not treated carefully.
By following these tips, you can get outdoors and create a memorable garden, while staying safe at the same time.