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Tips for staying safe in the garden

Rosanne LoParco
Sentinel columnist
Posted 8/7/22

Keep a safe garden and happy garden by avoiding garden-related injuries with planning, preparation, prudence, and a good dose of common sense.

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Tips for staying safe in the garden


Keep a safe garden and happy garden by avoiding garden-related injuries with planning, preparation, prudence, and a good dose of common sense.

Avoid muscle strain

Common garden activities such as raking, digging, weeding, or pruning can lead to joint pain and muscle strain. It’s especially an issue for us older gardeners! A 10-minute warm-up before you garden can go a long way towards preventing injuries; a walk or stretches for the spine are examples of good warm-up activities. Take frequent breaks and change tasks every 30 to 60 minutes.

Switch sides when using a shovel or other tools so that you don’t use one muscle group over and over. Gardening isn’t a marathon; pace yourself and don’t do it all in one day. Kneeling on both knees can cause discomfort in the back; try kneeling on one knee and keep the other foot on the ground. Use kneepads or a garden kneeling pad. End your garden session with gentle backward bends, light stretching, and/or by taking a short walk.

Pruning and power tools

Chain saws, weed trimmers, hedge clippers or even simple pruning tools cause too many trips to emergency rooms each year. Stay alert and know where your hands, fingers and toes are at all times. Wear gloves, long sleeved shirt, long pants, close-toed shoes, as well as hearing and eye protection. Use the right tool for the job and replace anything that isn’t working properly.


Ladder accidents occur when: (1) using the wrong type of ladder for the job; (2) using the ladder incorrectly; (3) using a damaged or broken ladder; (4) placing the ladder itself up incorrectly. Always follow the ladder manufacturer’s precautions when setting it up. Make sure the ladder is on a flat, stable surface. Never use the very top of the ladder as a step. Be sure someone is working with you.

Beware of bites and stings

There are a wide range of biting and stinging insects, including mosquitoes, ticks, wasps, and some caterpillars. Wear the appropriate clothing (gloves, long sleeves, long pants, hats, etc). Avoid bright colored clothing and don’t wear perfume or scented products that can attract insects. Use insect repellent if necessary. Ticks are a serious threat in this area. Be sure to perform a thorough tick check after all gardening activities.

Stay hydrated

Protect yourself from excess sun exposure; wear a hat and use sunscreen. Consider working early in the morning or later in the day when it’s cooler. Be sure to take regular breaks in the shade and hydrate. Creating and maintaining a garden is a favorite outdoor activity for many of us.

A little common sense and some situational awareness will insure you will appreciate the fruits of your labor for years to come. For more gardening information, visit our website at

Cornell Cooperative Extension Oneida County answers home and garden questions which can be emailed to or call 315-736-3394, press 1 and then Ext 333. Leave your question, name and phone number. Questions are answered weekdays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Also, visit our website at or phone 315-736-3394, press 1 and then Ext. 100.


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