Iron Earth Canada

Garden Safety 101

Image showing a pair of pruning shears and gardening gloves for an article about garden safety.

Gardening is a wonderful pastime that many of us enjoy. The fresh air, delightful smells, and visual stimuli, turn on our senses and invigorate us. It gives us a channel to use our creativity and provides purpose, allowing us to escape our daily grind, if only for an afternoon.

If that's not enough, simply being outside in nature can do wonders for a person's mood and outlook, helping people to manage stress and depression. Even as little as 30 minutes of gardening day can also keep your weight in check which can reduce a person's risk of developing many chronic diseases.

But as with anything that's good for us, there are things we need to do to make sure we're getting all the benefits without any of the negatives.

Garden Safety

The same way we think about health and safety as we work our nine-to-fives, health and safety for gardening is a real thing. There are plenty of ways that one could injure themselves while gardening, so today I'm sharing our top 5 safety tips for gardeners.

5 Safety Tips for Gardeners

1. Get Warmed Up

Image of someone stretching in the garden.

Photo by Marcus Aurelius from Pexels

Gardening can be a fantastic workout and depending on the type of work you're doing; it can get pretty strenuous. It's a good idea to spend at least 15 minutes warming up your body. You want to go through a combination of stretches and other activities to get your circulation going.

Yoga is one of my favourite pre-gardening activities as it provides a nice stretch at low intensity. It's the perfect pairing for gardening and depending on the routine, it can be all encompassing. It will help you loosen the muscles that you'll be using to crouch, kneel, stand and everything in-between.

Stretching isn't just a pre-gardening activity either. Stretching throughout the day will improve your flexibility and will help minimize future aches and pains. Every time you take a break, you should check in with your body and stretch it out.

2. Be Sun Smart

When you work outside, the time of day can play a significant role in how productive you are and how you feel during and after. If it's going to be a hot and sunny day, avoid working in the middle of the it. Instead, garden early in the morning or in the evening when it's cooler and the sun is not as high in the sky. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty water and take frequent breaks in the shade.

Regardless of the time of day, it's always wise to use a good quality sunscreen to protect any exposed skin, even if it's not that sunny out.

3. Garden Tool Safety

Picture of pruning shears and garden gloves.

Garden tools are great when they're working correctly but can be a real pain when they're not. Do yourself a favour and buy quality tools and make sure you try them out before you buy them. Ideally you want your tools to fit your hands properly to reduce the chance that you'll get a blister from repetitive use. Molded pruning shears are a good example of this.

Take the time to read the manuals to learn the proper ways to use and maintain your tools along with any safety information they provide. Here are some other tips to keep in mind:

  • Read the manual and always use as described
  • Clean your tools regularly
  • Test them to make sure they're in good working order
  • Don't remove any safety guards or features
  • Make sure cutting tools are sharp
  • Check electrical cords for cracks and exposed wires
  • Wear safety goggles when needed
  • Wear ear defenders when needed
  • Wear protective clothing when needed (gloves, chainsaw pants etc.)

4. Hand Safety

Image showing various garden gloves.

Photo by Mari Potter on Unsplash

Working with your hands can be so rewarding, there's no doubt about it. You simply can't garden without digging in, and because of that our hands can take a beating over the years. The best thing you can do for them is to wear appropriate gloves.

They'll protect your hands from cuts, insect bites, irritating plants, the list goes on. To get the best protection, invest in three different pair:

  • For digging and general use, look for a pair with puncture proof material in key areas such as your fingertips and palm. You'll want that protection if you come across a roofing nail or piece of glass while digging. These gloves are also great for using a shovel or pushing a wheelbarrow.

  • For handling chemicals and fertilizers, a good pair of rubber gloves will do the trick. Make sure you inspect them for leaks and tears before each use.

  • When using power tools, you'll want a glove that can absorb some of the vibration. Prolonged use of vibrating power tools can lead to tingling and numbness in your hands. You can buy dampening gloves to help with that.

Take it Easy

It's not hard to get carried away in the garden, we've all done it. What starts out as a leisurely way to spend a morning can often turn into a complete overhaul of the back yard.

Remember, gardening is supposed to be fun and relaxing. Think of the Zen nature of Mr. Miyagi tending to his bonsai trees. That's the pace of it. That's what we're trying to emulate.

  • Do your best to avoid long gardening sessions. If you have to, break up larger gardening projects over several sessions. It'll give you time to relax your muscles and to think about your next steps.

  • Rotate through repetitive tasks. You'll definitely feel it if you spend an entire morning bent over picking weeds. Instead, pick weeds for 15 minutes then switch to pruning a tree from a standing position for the next 15 minutes. You can switch back and forth until both jobs are done.

On a parting note, be sure you take the time to admire your work often. It's always the perfect time to top up your beverage, find some shade and enjoy the fruits of your labour. Enjoy a few moments to stretch, reapply your sunscreen and consider your next moves.

Did you find this article helpful?

If so, deepen your horizons with our post about soil fertility!