Gardening should be a sedate and leisurely pastime, giving you a chance to relax and unwind whilst taking in the joys of nature. And for the most part it does. But even the seemingly innocuous greenery of the humble garden can throw at you the odd hazard or two.
Some of them, like a cut, you obviously notice straight away, but some of them take a little longer to physically manifest themselves.
Statistically men befall more injuries in the garden than women and many accidents involves lawnmowers, but nobody with green-fingered proclivities wants to get hurt or injured at all if they can help it.
So, you might not hear this from Alan Titchmarsh, but here are few potential gardening perils you can easily avoid if you take the right precautions.
Keeping your perennials well maintained means that you’ll do a fair bit of kneeling down, which in turn puts a fair amount of pressure on the knees. This can lead to stiffness, swelling, and a general weakness in the knees, as well as resulting in long-term damage and osteoarthritis. Top tip is to use a kneeling pad or, if you’re doing a spot of weeding, sit on the ground.
Excessive physical labour with your hands – especially when you’re dealing with branches, brambles and other rough matter – is inevitably going to lead to blisters if you’re not careful. They’re basically damage to the top layer of skin as a result of repeated friction and can be treated by washing your hands with soapy water, applying antiseptic cream and applying a bandage. If it bursts, let it heal naturally.
Back injuries are one of the most common physical problems with gardening, although they can often go undetected for some time as initially you’re not in any particular discomfort. Back aches are generally caused by excessive bending over. They can be treated by using an ice pack for the first few days and, if it persists, a heating pain to relive stiffness and pain. If your back doesn’t get better after a week, it’s best to consult your GP.
With plenty of mud, stones and leaves around, it’s easy for something to fly up and either hit you in the eye or actually get in it. Whatever you do, don’t rub it – this could scratch the cornea, be even more painful and cause potentially long-term damage. Best thing is to wash your hands and rinse the eye with a saline solution such as eye drops. If chemicals splash in your eye, clean it with water from the tap or hose and, if it still feels like there’s something in there, get your doctor to check there’s no extensive damage.
Hedge trimmers and secateurs are sharp and you’ll be promptly reminded of this when you suffer a cut from them. Use a clean cloth to apply pressure to stop the bleeding, wash it with soap and water, cover it with antibiotic cream and apply a bandage . If the cut is deep and won’t stop bleeding after ten minutes, you’ll probably need stitches so a trip to the hospital will be in order.
…And Wear The Correct Clothing
It’s also important to wear the right clothes (or Personal Protective Equipment) as an extra precaution to limit the possibility of injury in the garden. If you’re operating electrical equipment or machinery such as strimmers, mowers, hedge-trimmers or chainsaws, wearing steel toe-capped boots, goggles, ear defenders and gloves is a good idea.
Of course accidents will happen, but if you exercise a little caution next time you’re cultivating your compost or pruning your perennials, the whole experience really will be a bed of roses.
What useful suggestions have you got for reducing the risk of any gardening injuries?
Gavin Harvey is a fitness fanatic who’s also partial to a spot of gardening and finds the wide selection of an online garden centre a real boon. He blogs for Coblands.