Spring has arrived and with it comes activities we haven’t done in months. Even if you maintain a physically active lifestyle, gardening activities are likely different and use different muscles than you’ve used recently.
As with any physical activity, you should warm up and stretch before bending, squatting, lifting and stretching while working in your gardens.
Use proper tools to help carry heavy loads like moving soil amendments or large bags of potting soil. Remember to lift with your legs and not your back to avoid back injuries. I go from kneeling to bending to squatting with some frequency. Different plants require working at different heights, so vary your work accordingly to change positions. This relieves tension and allows the muscles to rest.
While there are many ergonomic tools and other devices that make gardening easier and help you garden safely, the best tool to use is your head. Think about what you are doing and how to do it safely. There are proper ways to lift, reach, and even bend.
The need to worry about these activities is also why gardening is good for us. It gives us exercise that uses different parts of the body, helps with balance as we age, and, for me at least, gives us a mental boost working out in the spring air.
Just as we need to treat our bodies right by eating right and exercising, we also need to take care of ourselves when gardening. I have found that physical activities do not get easier with age and the recovery period after an injury does not shorten. Injury prevention should be the first task.
Don’t rush the season. Garden centers are now full of warm weather plants that can languish or die if planted in cold soil or when temperatures fluctuate from very hot to cold or even freezing.
Many have already spread fertilizer and weed killer on their lawn. Turf research suggests that lawns should not be fertilized until after the second mowing. Grass must be actively growing to use fertilizer effectively. If you have fed the soil and used good mowing and watering practices, you will minimize the need for additional fertilizer.
Likewise, depending on the types of weeds you may have, the application of weed killers or pre-emergents must be timed correctly for them to be effective. The willy-nilly application of fertilizers or weed killers is likely to simply be a waste of time and money as well as harmful to the environment.
Although I do not use petroleum-based chemicals on my lawn and garden, there are many good products that, if used responsibly, will serve you well. Understand the needs of your plants, the right time to use the product to achieve the desired result, and read and follow label directions to achieve the best result with the least damage to both your wallet and the plant. environment.