Healthy Gardening

Get close to nature and enjoy the benefits. Gardening can be a great way to enjoy physical activity, beautify the community, and go green. However, it is important to protect yourself and take precautions as you work and play in the sun and around insects, chemicals, and lawn and garden equipment.

Whether you are a beginner or expert, remember these health and safety tips for gardeners, and enjoy the beauty and bounty gardening can bring:

Dress to protect.

  • Prevent exposure to harmful chemicals, insects, and the sun by wearing proper clothing and safety equipment.
  • Use an insect repellant and sunscreen with sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher, and both ultraviolet A and B ray protection.
  • Remember that the hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. daylight savings time (9 a.m. to 3 p.m. standard time) are the most hazardous for UV exposure outdoors in the continental United States.
  • Always check your clothes and body for ticks.
  • Wear a hat with a wide rim to shade the face, head, ears, and neck.
  • Wear a protective nose and mouth mask, or even sunglasses or protective eyewear, while doing yard work to help to avoid the triggers that cause allergy and asthma complications.

Photo: Woman working in garden

Know your limits in the heat.

  • Even being out for short periods of time in high temperatures can cause serious health problems.
  • Monitor your activities and time in the sun to lower your risk for heat-related illness.
  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully, and pace yourself. Use common sense.

Stay hydrated.

  • If you're outside in hot weather for most of the day you'll need to make an effort to drink more fluids.
  • Avoid beverages with alcohol and drinks high in sugar, and stay away from caffeinated and carbonated beverages.
  • Whatever your outdoor activity, have water on hand to decrease the chance of dehydration.

Put safety first.

  • Be aware of possible hazards to prevent injury.
  • Read all instructions and labels before using chemicals and operating equipment.
  • Check equipment before each use.
  • Limit distractions while using equipment.

Enjoy the benefits of physical activity.

  • Active people are less likely than inactive people to be obese or have high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, depression, colon or breast cancer, and premature death.
  • Adults should get at least 2½ hours per week of moderate intensity physical activity.

Engage in physical activity for persons with disabilities.

  • Engage in regular physical activity based on abilities. Avoid inactivity.
  • Adults with disabilities should consult their health care provider about the amounts and types of physical activity that are appropriate for their abilities.
  • Physical activity can reduce pain and improve function, mood, and quality of life for adults with arthritis.

Get vaccinated.

  • Vaccinations can prevent many diseases and save lives.
  • Remember that the bacteria that cause tetanus are found in soil and all adults should get a tetanus vaccination every 10 years.

Go green.

  • Conserve water, reuse containers, recycle, and share your bounty.
  • Eye-catching gardens and landscapes that save water, prevent pollution, and protect the environment can be achieved.

Keep your yard clear.

  • Remove any items that may collect standing water, such as buckets, old tires, and toys. Mosquitoes can breed in them within days.
  • Clearing trees and brush in your yard can reduce the likelihood that deer, rodents, and ticks will live there.