Planting cascades of flowers and adding other landscaping features to your yard involves tools and equipment that, if used without precaution, could result in serious injuries.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends following these gardening safety tips:
- Plan what you want to do in advance and do not be in a hurry.
- Wear protective gloves, sturdy shoes and long pants when working in the garden to protect against insect bites and injuries such as stepping on sharp objects or cuts from handling sharp tools.
- Familiarize yourself with the plants that are in your garden. If you identify poisonous plants or trees, ensure you keep young children away and educate them about the potential risks. If you cannot identify a plant or tree, take a sample to your local garden center for identification.
- Keep gardening equipment in good working order. For example, when using a hedge trimmer for the first time in a season, have it serviced to ensure that it is working correctly.
- To avoid injuring your back when lifting heavy objects in the garden, position yourself close to the object you want to lift. Separate your feet shoulder-width apart to give yourself a solid base of support, bend at the knees, tighten your stomach muscles and lift with your leg muscles as you stand up. If an object is too heavy or is an awkward shape, do not try to lift it by yourself. Get help.
- To avoid back and knee injuries caused by repetitive bending and kneeling in the garden, consider using a garden stool to help relieve pressure on your spine and knees.
- Gardening in the early morning or late afternoon helps avoid the heat of the sun. However, early morning and evening are dangerous times for UVA rays, which harm the skin, so a wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen of at least SPF 15, and sunglasses are recommended regardless of time of day.
- Stay hydrated with fluids, especially if you’re working up a sweat.
- Do not drink alcoholic beverages before gardening, as you may be operating equipment and using sharp tools.
- Children should not be allowed to play in or near where chemicals, gardening equipment or sharp tools are being used or stored.
- Remove stones, toys and other objects from the yard before you start gardening.