I'm a freelance writer, and author of Finding Sean. I'm based in the Snowy Mountains, News South Wales. Visit my website at www.gaillarsson.com.au, and my blog at www.gaillarsson1.wordpress.com
Published November 16th 2013
How to enjoy and survive in your garden
Okay, that might be a little over-dramatic. But when you are out doing your weekend gardening, there are a few things that you need to take into consideration to ensure that this popular activity remains a pleasant experience.
Watch out for other inhabitants of your green spaces, such as snakes, bees, wasps, spiders, ants, centipedes and scorpions. Protect yourself from bites and stings by wearing good leather gardening gloves, trousers and boots.
Plants can be dangerous in different ways. Some, like the following examples, can cause skin irritation if the plant or sap is handled: Rhus, Camphor Laurel, Lantana, Nettles, Oleander, Agapanthus, many types of bulbs, Elephant's Ears and Poison Ivy. Some are poisonous if ingested or emit toxic fumes if burnt.
Wearing gloves and washing your hands thoroughly after gardening can help protect you from harmful plant substances.
Wasp on Leek Flower
Many garden injuries are due to the use of sharp or pointed tools by gardeners. Again, sturdy shoes and gloves will help protect those precious fingers and toes. It goes without saying that if you're using a whipper-snipper (weed whacker) or lawn mower, protective eye-wear and hearing protection are a must.
Watch out for thorns and spines when pruning. Cuts, grazes, thorn punctures and splinters should be treated immediately.
Ease into the gardening season. If you need to lift heavy objects such as rocks or sleepers, get help and use mechanical assistance where practical. Muscle strain and back injuries can leave you in pain and the garden abandoned.
We always need that first hit of sunburn in the new season before we remember to use a hat or put on sunscreen, don't we? Don't forget to "slip, slop, slap" in the garden. Also, stay well hydrated and work in the shade where possible. Heat stroke is no fun at all.
If you are allergic to bee stings, ant bites, grass pollen, plane trees or anything else outside, you must take precautions to protect yourself. Many people suffer from hayfever, but the symptoms can be alleviated by prescribed medical products, wearing breathing protection when mowing grass, or doing your gardening after rain when the pollen has been damped down. Keep away from those animals or substances that upset your system. Keep any medical treatments, such as epi-pens or inhalers, close by.
Gardening Safety Gear
There are some really horrible pesticides and herbicides out there. Try to treat your garden pests naturally or with organic methods. Consider encouraging beneficial insects, and using non-toxic treatments.
Application of chemicals needs to be done while wearing gloves, and possibly with skin, eye and breathing protection. Read the safety data on the container, and ensure your kids and pets are also well out of the way.
Ever read the writing on that bag of potting mix? Packaged soils and potting mixes can contain Legionella bacteria. But don't panic. Wear gloves and breathing mask, moisten the potting mix in the bag, wash your hands thoroughly when you're done. The point is to reduce the dust, and avoid inhaling the material. Easy.
The purpose of this article is for general information only and in no way contains medical or treatment advice. Keep in mind that the benefits of gardening, that sense of well-being when we're at one with nature, far outweigh the risks as outlined above. So with a little common sense, that weekend of gardening is still on. Just remember to protect your body – you've only got one!
My family and I have been gardening for over 40 years and have rarely found any of the dangers you mention here.Being aware of your surroundings and taking simple precautions are necessary, as with everyday life. I am sure that travelling on our roads is much more dangerous