Gardening has many health benefits. However, it is possible to sustain an injury or discomfort from this activity. To gain the maximum benefit and pleasure from time spent gardening, follow these safety measures.
Protective Clothing It is important to wear appropriate clothing when working in the garden. Strong covered shoes should be worn to protect your feet especially when using equipment such as a lawnmower, line trimmer or garden fork. Wear safety boots if you have them. Shoes also protect your feet from spiders or other creatures that could be lurking in grass or under the odd piece of tin.
Wear covered shoes to avoid an injury when gardening Image:Marie Vonow
It is advisable to wear goggles when using equipment which can flick up sticks and stones that could cause an eye injury. When using noisy equipment such as a lawnmower or chainsaw use ear muffs or ear plugs.
Long sleeves will protect your arms from plants with thorns or those that can cause skin allergies. When using a lawnmower wear long thick trousers. Wear gardening gloves to protect your hands from thorns, prickles, splinters and spiders.
Gloves protect hands from thorns. Image:Marie Vonow
Protection From The Sun Sunshine is beneficial to our health but a few minutes exposure each day is sufficient. In warm to hot weather a broad brimmed hat is essential to protect from the sun’s heat. Sunscreen with a protection of at least SPF 30 and a long sleeved shirt will provide additional protection. Avoid gardening at the hottest times of the day by choosing early morning and late in the day to tend your garden.
Protect yourself from the hot sun. Image:Marie Vonow
Avoiding Back Pain And Other Strain Avoid repetitive strain injury by changing your activity every few minutes For example, do a bit of pruning and then change to pulling out some weeds. Then change to another activity. Alternate between using the left and right sides of your body and avoid twisting movements. Bend from your knees rather than your waist to avoid back injury.
Raised beds can help prevent back strain. You may discover kneeling to plant or weed in a bed that is even just 30cm above the ground causes less strain than planting directly into the ground.
If you experience wrist pain try a wrist guard to steady your wrist when digging. Avoid jarring your arms by soaking hard ground prior to digging.
Make use of a wheelbarrow or a sack truck to move heavier items such as bags of potting mix. Don’t overload the wheelbarrow as this can still cause strain. Ask for help if you need it, and make two trips if necessary. Move slowly when manoeuvring your wheelbarrow, avoiding twisting or making jerky movements.
Move heavy items using a wheelbarrow. Image:Marie Vonow
Allergies If you are allergic to bee or wasp stings ensure you have an epi-pen that is not past its use by date close at hand in case you get stung. It is possible to have a nice garden of plants that are pollinated by birds, beetles and the breeze instead of bees. Some research on the internet and a chat with your local garden centre will help you identify suitable plants.
People who are allergic to pollen from plants may find it useful to wear a mask when gardening. Leave gloves and shoes outside and take a shower as soon as you finish gardening. Allergy sprays, syrups or tablets recommended by your health professional may also provide relief.
Watch out for bees if you are allergic to bee stings. Image:Marie Vonow
Gardening is good for your health but it is wise to be aware of possible safety issues and take precautions.