Make Safety Part Of Your Gardening Plan

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This article will help you plan a more enjoyable, less stressful, rewarding day in the garden by making safety a part of your plan.
by Maple Tree · All Zones · Garden Cautions · 0 Comments · August 30, 2012 · 5,167 views

This year I couldn't count the number of mishaps I have had in the garden. Looking back at these I realize most could have been avoided if I had planned for the task at hand ahead of time. Having a plan, gathering the correct tools for the job, and realizing what safety measures I needed to take would have made the tasks more enjoyable and less stressful and a lot safer. It made me wonder how many others are also negligent regarding safety practices while working in and around their gardens.

Before starting any work in the garden it is best to take time and think about the things you want to accomplish in the garden or landscape. Make a plan so that you don't lose time during the day figuring out what needs to be done next and how your going to accomplish it. Whether planting, pruning, attacking pests or diseases, cleaning out flower beds, or building a project, all will be much more enjoyable and safely accomplished if you are ready mentally and physically (sometimes not easy at my age). A good night sleep and a well thought out plan as to what and how you will be accomplishing your goal is a safety factor many don't think about. Even though working in our gardens can be quite relaxing and a stress releaver for many it can be dangerous for one who is tired, has no plan, or may be in a hurry to just get the job done. Of course there are some that just don't like to work in the garden and will do any thing to get things done the easiest and quickest way possible. This is not the best and safest way to complete tasks sucessfully in the garden.

First, as with all garden activities, you should do a few simple stretches to get your body ready for physical activity. A pulled muscle or torn ligament will hamper your ability to enjoy the gardening season and life in general, so get loose before you begin. Second, use your head! Don't try to move something too large to move alone. Men, especially as we age, often let our egos get in the way of reality. Get some help. Lighten the load by removing some or all of the planting medium. In large containers invert a plastic bucket in the bottom and fill the soil around it to reduce the weight. Use carts, hand trucks, tractor loaders, wagons, or ramps to get your containers to their correct positions and save the back.

Whether your garden is small, large, or just a patio with a few containers you need to think of safety. Container gardens are beautiful, and I'll bet you are wondering how safety could be a part of this simple form of gardening. Container gardens require pots, tubs or some form of container. These containers have weight to them, especially when full of potting soil. With the advent of synthetic flower pot materials you can have a light weight container that looks as good as the "real thing". Some of these containers can be quite large. Before attempting to move them you should do a few things to help ensure that you are healthy enough to enjoy your efforts for the rest of the growing season.

If storing pots in the shed for the winter, there are steps to be taken to put them back into service. Safety needs to be a part of these procedures. The pots should be cleaned and sanitized before putting them back to work. Washing them with soap and water will make them look better, but sanitizing them requires a solution of mild bleach. Mix 1 part liquid bleach and 9 parts warm water in a non-reactive container. Be sure to apply in a well ventilated area and wear old clothes (unless you like that tie-died effect) with long sleeves. Wear safety goggles and rubber gloves as you apply to the inside and outside of the pot. If you splash concentrated bleach on your skin, wash it off with running water. Depending on the location of the splash, call your doctor or go to the emergency room.

One of the most common and recurring tasks in the yard garden is mowing the grass. Most of us will mow once or twice a week for the growing season. Talk about a time for considering safe practices - power tools and gardening are a prime example of an accident waiting to happen. You could be like the man who heard that most accidents happen within 25 miles of home, so he moved! A better approach is to use safe practices and be aware of your surroundings. How many times have you seen some one mowing in flip flop shoes or bare-footed? Worse than that, how many times have you seen someone with a small child on their lap while driving the riding lawn mower? Believe me this is not quality time!

Don't forget to pull the spark plug wire off the spark plug before servicing it. Remember that the rotary mower blade has a tip speed of over 200 mph. Talk to your children about mower safety. Have them stay out of the area where you are mowing. If an emergency arises and they need to talk to the operator, show them how to safely approach the person on the mower away from the discharge chute side of the mower and in the vision angle of the operator. Wear strong shoes. Wear eye and hearing protection. A pair of good gloves will help protect your hands from minor injuries. When all goes wrong, the mower wins!

String trimmers and mowers can both launch items that are in their paths. Keep people away from your area of operation as much as possible. Stop using the machine if you see someone approaching in an area you cannot control. Wait until the area is clear to resume using power equipment.


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