Most people view gardening as an idyllic, gentle hobby. After all, you’re out there in your back yard, surrounded by nature and breathing fresh air. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the flowers are blooming – what could possibly go wrong?  The truth is, gardening really is a wonderful, wholesome, soul-nurturing activity, but it is not without its dangers. Many gardeners are injured every year as a result of accidents and health problems that could have been prevented. A bit of common sense and a few safety precautions will go a long way to ensure that your gardening adventure is a safe one.

Prevent Repetitive Strain Injury

Certain gardening activities such as pulling weeds or setting out bedding plants with the use of a garden trowel, require that the same motion be used again and again. This can cause a very painful repetitive strain injury. To avoid this type of injury to muscles and tendons, change your activity and the type of motion you make every ten to fifteen minutes.  

Avoid Working in the Heat

Do not work in the garden during intense heat. Working out of doors in hot weather can lead to sunburn, heat exhaustion, and the much more dangerous heat stroke.  On very warm days, stay out of the sun between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Wear a broad-brimmed hat and protective clothing in hot weather. Stay well hydrated when working in warm temperatures.

Be Careful with Garden Chemicals

Gardeners can suffer severe injury as a result of exposure to dangerous chemicals that are often used in gardening.  The most dangerous gardening chemicals are the herbicides used to kill weeds and the pesticides used to kill insects. If you choose to use these types of chemicals, be sure you read and understand the instructions thoroughly. Do not assume that you know how to use the product correctly.  Wear protective clothing on your body, and on your hands.  Follow the precautions recommended if there is a spill of the hazardous chemical.  These chemicals are often especially dangerous for people with respiratory conditions or heart problems. You can avoid the dangers associated with using these chemicals by switching to more natural methods of controlling weeds and insects.

Don’t Take a Trip!

Tripping injuries are very common when gardening. Gardeners often leave tools such as rakes and hoes lying around on the ground, or against a wall or fence where they can cause a tripping hazard.  Be sure to put your tools away as soon as you have finished using them, or whenever you decide to take a break. Place them in a location where no one will trip over them.

Use Proper Lifting Technique

Lifting heavy objects incorrectly is one of the most common types of injuries incurred while gardening. Don`t risk an injury to your back by lifting a heavy bag of compost or top soil by lifting it the wrong way. Use proper lifting posture. Do not bend your back to lift heavy objects. Instead, keep your back straight and squat down by bending your knees. Hold the object with your hands and use your legs to raise your body slowly and smoothly while you keep your back straight. Do not make any sudden, jerking movements. The correct lifting technique will prevent back injuries from occurring. Use a wheelbarrow when you must carry heavy loads from one part of the yard to another.

By following these basic health and safety tips when you work in the garden, you will enjoy your hobby even more. You can happily listen to the birds singing, and watch the flowers blooming, surrounded by nature, and breathing fresh air. What could be better?