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Some see gardening and yard work as a chore, while others find it fulfilling and even calming. Whichever group you belong to, safety should always be your top priority.
Make sure that you stay safe and healthy enough to enjoy the hard work you put into your yard. Follow these five important tips in yard care and safety:
1. Wear the Right Clothes
It is often said that your clothing doesn’t define you, but in gardening and lawn care in Manassas Park, Virginia, wearing the correct apparel is an absolute must.
Before you are deemed ready to take on your gardening tasks, you must first make sure you’re wearing the necessary protective clothing. This can help save you from harm, be it from sunburn or injury.
If you’re not sure what these are, here are some key points that can help when choosing your gardening ensemble:
- Protect yourself with long pants, safety goggles, a wide-brimmed hat, and well-built rubber gardening boots.
- Don’t forgo wearing safety gloves to avoid skin irritation, pricks, or cuts.
- Always use hearing protectors when using wood cutting equipment.
- Use insect repellent to keep mosquitoes and other nasty bugs away.
- Don’t forget to use a sunscreen with at least SPF 15 before going out to the garden to prevent sunburn.
2. Warm-Up Before Doing Anything
Although not all gardening tasks are taxing, it would be best to do some warm-up exercises before you get your hands dirty – both literally and figuratively – to reduce your chances of getting injured and minimize aches you’ll feel later on.
Believe it or not, gardening can still put a strain on your body if you’re not warmed up for the activities you’re about to do. Forgoing warm-ups may even ruin the pastime for you.
Whether you’re tending to your vegetable patch or mowing the lawn, you have to stretch your muscles out first before you begin. Not sure what you can do? Here are some exercises that should get you ready for the task ahead:
Be a Tree
Start by placing your feet hip-distance apart while clasping your hands over your head. Then, stretch your hands up gradually until you reach the highest possible height you can. As you do so, imagine your feet pushing down to the ground like roots of a tree, and stay in position for about 5 seconds.
After that, slowly move your hands forward before bending your waist until your buttocks, hamstrings, and hips are stretched. Hold for a couple of seconds before stretching up again.
Remember to avoid bouncing while you do this. This should help you feel no strain on your lower back after gardening.
To do a hip stretch, start by going on a sitting position on the floor or a chair. Cross one leg over the other, with the one knee crossing the other ankle and forming the shape of a number 4.
Once in position, put gentle pressure on the bent leg by pushing down on the knee. Hold it for about 5 seconds, before releasing and repeating with the process on the other leg. This should gently stretch the hip on each side.
While sitting on the floor with the soles of the feet placed together, bring your feet close to your center. Once the legs form a triangle, slowly and gently push down either knee using your hands until you feel a slight stretch on the inner thigh. Hold for several seconds before releasing it.
You can also do this stretch that targets the hip and inner thigh while sitting on a chair, but with one leg at a time as you may need the other one to keep you stable and balanced.
3. Practice Proper and Safe Use of Tools
Another important reminder when performing yard maintenance and gardening is to study how to use tools and equipment properly.
Besides reading the owner’s manual, you must also heed general safety practices, such as:
- Tucking them away from children’s reach;
- Unplugging electric tools when not in use; and
- Being extra careful when handling sharp tools like gardening shears, knives, and sickles.
Also, you must remember to ensure your comfort when using gardening tools. For example, if you’re lifting plants and soil using a shovel or other similar tools, you must learn the proper lifting technique to prevent discomfort or injury.
Here are the key rules in lifting objects you must follow:
- Never lift beyond what you can manage.
- When lifting, always bring the object close to your body, much like in a bear hug.
- Follow the proper lifting posture, with your feet apart at shoulder width, chest forward, lower back arched, one foot slightly put forward, and knees bent as your lift the object. This way, the weight of the object is carried by your legs and not your lower back.
- When carrying the object, never twist your back.
Similarly, some safety principles also help you maintain the optimal performance of your lawnmower while you remain unharmed at the same time. These include:
- Wearing closed shoes – preferably steel-toed – when using a lawnmower;
- Wearing safety goggles and long trousers while you mow the lawn;
- Driving ride-on mowers at slow speeds, especially when turning, to avoid tipping over;
- Pulling on mowers or mowing on slopes carefully; and
- Not touching hot parts of the mower.
4. Never Overdo It
No matter how much you love gardening and caring for your lawn, you must never overdo it. Aside from warming up, you must also remember not to go through extended gardening sessions as it might leave you exhausted to the point of dizziness at the end of the day.
Also, remember to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. This is especially important if you’re working under warm weather.
As much as possible, don’t work in your yard at noon or any time of the day when the sun is still quite hot. If you must, find a shady area to work in and settle into a comfortable position.
When carrying heavy objects, don’t go over your capacity. If it is too heavy for you, don’t hesitate to ask for help.
5. Leave Certain Tasks to the Professionals
Speaking of seeking help, some gardening activities are also best done by yard care professionals.
For example, lawn treatments in Manassas, Virginia should be left to the experts, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the chemicals they use to get rid of weeds and lawn pests.
Soil testing is also a task that should only be performed by people who were trained and certified for the job. Else you’ll risk making a mistake and end up ruining your precious garden.
The same goes for irrigation system installation, landscaping, and other troublesome projects you might need to do in your yard.
Take Care When Caring for Your Yard
When caring for your yard, you also need to make sure to take care of yourself. Safety should be at the top of your concerns, especially when gardening. Heed the tips listed in this article, and you should do just fine.