Gardening has many benefits, including fresh produce, relaxation, and outdoor enjoyment. However, certain dangers in the garden can hurt you, your family, and even your garden if you’re not careful.
A garden can seem like a safe place, but many hazards lurk in your backyard. In addition to fungus and pesticides, there are also annoying critters such as animals looking for a free meal. Below is a list of common hazards you should watch out for when working in your garden.
While most fungi are harmless and even beneficial, some can harmfully affect your plants. Fungi will generally appear as a gray, white, or brownish color. When you notice fungus in your garden, it’s best to remove it immediately. If you wait too long or don’t treat it with fungicide, it can spread throughout your garden and kill many of your plants. It’s also essential to ensure that your soil is well-draining; otherwise, the fungus might spread via underground roots.
- Weed Killer Spray
A weed killer spray might not seem dangerous, but there is quite a bit of danger in these little bottles. Many brands offer weed killer spray, but have you ever really looked at what’s inside them? Weedkiller sprays contain chemicals like glyphosate and paraquat that can cause significant damage to your health. Long-term exposure to these two particular ingredients has been linked to increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) as well as respiratory problems. The chemical Paraquat was even found by researchers to cause lung disease. So be sure to wear protective gear if you’re working with weed killer spray.
When it comes to pesticides, you want to err on the side of caution. Not only can pesticides leach into groundwater and contribute to air pollution, but they’re also bad for your health. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified at least two dozen weed killers as having possible links with cancer or neurological disorders. Therefore, you should not use these pesticides around your home unless necessary.
- Old Plants and Trees
Over time, trees and plants often fall victim to disease or age. These have a high risk of being structurally unsound, meaning they might cause bodily harm if you decide it’s a good idea to climb them. Any dead plant matter—leaves, flowers, branches—should also be avoided as these are breeding grounds for harmful bacteria and insects. If you notice any of these around your garden, cut them down immediately.
You can also consider tree pruning, which is generally a safer option for keeping them at bay. Hire professionals if you aren’t confident in your skills with a saw and chainsaw, as they are easily dangerous. Pruning your trees will help keep them healthy. If you have plants that hang over your fence or into other people’s property, trimming these back will ensure that a falling branch or root harms no one. Trimming also ensures leaves blowing around won’t leave any messes where they shouldn’t be.
- Soil Erosion
Soil erosion is a natural occurrence caused by wind, water, and ice over time. As soil layers become exposed at its surface, it’s blown away or washed away by rain—leaving your garden exposed and vulnerable. To prevent soil erosion from happening in your garden, add protective coverings like wood chips, bark mulch, or grass clippings around existing plants.
- Moles and Voles
Even if you can’t see them, moles and voles are most likely wreaking havoc on your garden. Voles tunnel underground and like to eat their way through the roots of plants and shrubs. You can keep them at bay by covering your exposed root areas with a mulch. If they cause extensive damage to a plant, cut off affected branches or bushes completely.
Certain wildlife like squirrels and raccoons might dig in your garden or trash cans for food. They often burrow beneath lawns and flower beds or lurk around garbage cans searching for food. You can discourage them from doing so by putting chicken wire down deep into your soil or enclosing your trash cans with secure lids and locking mechanisms.
Pets can also present danger in your garden. Small cats and dogs might dig up newly planted seeds, rip up plants, or pee on desirable flowers. To deter your pets from doing so, you should keep them indoors when you’re not around to supervise sections of your yard. You can also consider planting plants that produce strong scents that repel animals, such as citronella grass, lavender, lemon thyme, and catnip.
It’s no secret that air pollution is dangerous—but did you know that it can affect your garden? Pollution from sources like traffic and lawnmowers can make your plants sick. To keep pollution at bay, avoid planting near busy streets, use natural pesticides and fertilizers whenever possible, and plant trees and shrubs that help absorb harmful fumes. When planning a new garden layout, keep in mind that more plants equal less pollution.
There are several risks associated with gardening. While they might seem insignificant, they can cause a lot of damage. Always wear heavy-duty gloves when dealing with plants, and try your best to avoid plants you don’t recognize. As long as you are aware of these hazards, you’ll be able to enjoy your garden.