By Sarah Buchanan. First published by Rattan Direct on 25 May 2016.
Gardens – a safe and quiet place to relax, enjoy peace and the company of friends and family? Or a place of danger? (Remember Miss Marple deadheading ….) All of that! Keep safe in your garden – follow a few gardening tips.
Tops on canes
Use ready-made tops over the tip of garden canes to protect your eyes and face as you bend to admire a fantastic flower. Achieve the same effect with a broken ping pong or tennis ball. (I am experimenting with sticking old cotton reels on the tip. Watch this space!)
RCD socket outlet switches
RCD switches (sometimes called power breakers) between your electric tools and the mains make tools safer to use: a break in the wire cuts the current, and cuts the chances of an electric shock. MUST HAVES when using lawn mowers and hedge clippers, cost little and are easy to use. Buy one today!
More on electrical safety
Check before you plug in: no kinked or frayed cables, safe plugs, no sign of mouse attack, unwind the full length of the cable. And NEVER USE ELECTRICAL TOOLS OUTDOORS IN WET WEATHER OR ON WET TREES, SHRUBS OR GRASS.
Tidy the shed
My winter of pushing things into the shed leads to a bump on the head (where is Miss Marple when I need her?) as I rummage for a deckchair or garden spade. Set aside an afternoon (it’s a great idea for a wet bank holiday) and tidy up.
Garden centres often offer amnesties for old tools: they give them to charities that mend and recycle, and offer you a discount on new tools. Or cut out the middle and go direct to a charity such as WorkAid. Give old flower pots to local fundraising plant stalls or ‘open gardens’ that sells plants.
Store tools safely
Store hoes and rakes ‘heads up’ against a wall. ‘Heads down’ can catch you unawares when you stand on the head and the handle falls into your face….
All garden tools need to be stored away from the wrong hands – ideally behind a door that’s locked or bolted above the reach of children. Spades are said to be the tool burglars use to force doors open, so there’s another reason not to leave your spade out in the garden.
NO to bare feet
Soft grass and mossy lawns are lovely for bare feet … and mowing grass in bare feet is a common cause of weekend trips to hospital. Don’t do it! Always wear firm shoes or boots when you’re working in your garden. Sharp stones in the soil, sharp tool edges and stinging insects are not as dangerous as mower blades but can certainly lead to accident and injury. And sharp edges on spades or lawn tools, forks or hoes can be dangerous. They cut through earth and plants so your feet could be easy meat.
The iconic painting of the boots of the great gardener Gertrude Jekyll is not your look?
Try some like mine (which need a good clean after a wet weekend!)
Accessorise! Keep safe in your garden!
Don’t be shy about wearing ear and eye protectors when using any powered tools, lawn mowers (stones may fly up into your face, and noise levels can be higher than you think) or when sawing or pruning, especially in cramped spaces.
Look after yourself and your tools
Look around when you are gardening, admire the view? Check your tool isn’t going to harm a fellow gardener, or jar your arm when you hit a paving slab, or that you are not reversing into a prickly shrub! Wooden handles need a bit of TLC if they are to take care of you: put them away clean, so you can see splinters or cracks appearing, and every now and then rub them over with a rag soaked in linseed oil. Plastic handles are much nicer to use when they’re clean, and can be slippery when muddy. And clean soil and plants off metal blades and prongs to prevent rust and check for damage. If you need to wash them clean, rub them roughly dry with an old rag or sack.