Gear up before gardening
The temperature’s rising, and if the rain holds off, gardeners throughout the metro will be out planting vegetables, tending perennial beds and cussing at weeds. Gardeners spend hours taking care of their plants, but don’t always take care of themselves prior to heading outdoors. I am reminded of this as I am off for my annual appointment with the dermatologist.
Before heading out to the garden, gear up to protect yourself from the elements and the hard work that gardening can create. Some essentials for personal protection include:
Sunscreen. A fresh bottle is most reliable. If you have a bottle left over from last year (or from 1999), check its expiration date and its consistency. If the sunscreen is lumpy, looks off-color or smells funny pitch it and get a new bottle of sunscreen. Dermatologists recommend a minimum SPF 30 sunscreen, and use more than you think you need: 1 teaspoon for the face, and a shot glass full for the whole body. Reapply every two hours.
Shoes that fit well, provide adequate support, preferably are washable (hose or washing machine), and yet are appropriate for the task at hand. This may mean more than one pair. Boots can be a good choice for shoveling, carrying heavy objects and mowing. Lighter shoes can be more comfortable for deadheading and weeding.
Wide-brimmed hat to protect neck, face and eyes from damaging sun rays. The best are woven thickly enough to screen out sunlight but thin enough to allow air movement. A drawstring can be a benefit on windy days that blow across the Midwest. When purchasing a new hat, try it on, lean forward and look at the floor. Think pulling weeds. If the hat is the right size, it will stay in place.
Sunglasses to stave off “squint” wrinkles, as well as the risk of macular degeneration. Large-framed and wrap-around styles can also provide protection against blowing dirt and debris. But, safety lenses are the only real choice when operating equipment such as lawnmowers, string trimmers and leaf blowers.
Protect your hearing with ear plugs when using loud equipment such as leaf blowers.
One or more pairs of good-fitting garden gloves to protect hands from nicks, scratches, blisters, sun damage, dirt stains and the occasional brush with poison ivy.
Don’t forget to care for yourself this gardening season with the right gear for the job. You will thank yourself later in life when all the nicks, scrapes and effects of the sun catch up with you in old age. Trust me, as I am starting to know the feeling firsthand.