Gardening, Pain, and Pests: Cures For All Greenfingered Ills

Tulips in the Garden

Tending to your garden is meant to be one of the most relaxing tasks imaginable. It’s meant to give you time with nature to escape the everyday stresses; a chance to relax and take things one step at a time. It’s even meant to be good for you on a health basis.

So why does gardening have a tendency to turn miserable?

It can be incredibly frustrating when something you know is meant to be so wonderful, actually feels like anything but. If you want to garden, you throw on some old clothes and you go out and garden – how hard can that be? Maybe you’re planting spring bulbs, pulling up weeds, or just tidying up after a storm that’s thrown your garden into chaos – but none of it is difficult. Or it shouldn’t be.

Without proper preparation, it’s far too easy for your gardening experience to drift along into the realm of being a nightmare. While it’s impossible to pinpoint the sole cause for this, there are a few uniting mistakes that people make over and over again. So at least you’re not alone in your misery – that helps… right?

If you want to make your next gardening experience more paradise than painful (either physically or emotionally), then try and be wary of these errors and take action to avoid the ones you are in danger of making. There’s a gardener in you somewhere, and all it takes is a few simple remedies to encourage them to come out.

Be Aware Of The Sun

Be aware of the sun

Basking out in the sunshine might seem like a huge appeal of gardening. A brightly lit sunny day, a rake in hand, and bulbs waiting to be planted – it’s the kind of image that you daydream about during the cold months of winter.

When it comes to it though, being out in the sun for long periods of time is… it’s pretty uncomfortable. It’s hot, which means you’re going to sweat – and there’s a sentence you’d never consider to be an attractive proposition. Additionally, any exposed skin becomes a target for sunburn, which is both painful in the short term and potentially lethal further down the road.

Last – but by no means least – the sun is more than happy to compromise your vision, burn your retinas (your eyes are just as vulnerable as your skin!) and make you have to constantly squint to the point you can barely see anything.

Make It Better:

  • Always wear sunglasses that have a UV protected rating.
  • Wear loose clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
  • Ditto a hat. If you find bending over makes the hat slip off, fasten a cheap chin strap. It’s not fashionable but it’s better than a sunburnt scalp.
  • There are plenty of water mists you can buy to help cool you down. Or make one yourself, with a couple of drops of peppermint oil added per 100ml of water.
  • Carry shade around with you. If you’re going to be in one area for a long period of time, then consider erecting a parasol or even just an umbrella. Anything that can cause a bit of shade will make a big difference.

Don’t Be Garden Food

Garden Insect

When you step out into what you think of as your garden, you think you’re on your own land. You own it; you’re in charge; you’re the dominant force here.

Every single creature who lives in that garden 24/7 is busy thinking the exact same thing.

The ants, lawn pests, worms, spiders – they don’t think: “oh look, there they come to make the garden look pretty! Better scatter and give way!”.

No, they think: “ooh! Lunch!” – and they won’t have any problem treating themselves to a nice, long meal courtesy of you. You’re going to be present at this meal, but it’s not a slap-up banquet – you’re the unwitting host, and you’re only going to know there’s been a party when you see the red marks appearing across your body.

All manner of insects and pests will be quite happy to take a nip out of you if you go anywhere near them. The bites might not be fatal, but they can make life extremely painful and dissuade you from wanting to go outside again. All you wanted was a pretty outside area; not a ring of raised welts where some critter has decided you’re a tasty snack.

Make It Better:

  • If you have a serious lawn or other pest problem to the point it’s making you not want to go outside or bother with lawn care, then it’s worth contacting an exterminator to rectify the problem once and for all. This is especially important if you’re dealing with pests you don’t know well or have a wasp nest problem. Doing the wrong thing out of lack of experience is often worse than doing nothing!
  • Always use an insect repellent on skin. Don’t just think you can rely on only using a repellent on exposed skins. Bugs and critters are small; they can and will crawl under your clothing if it’s the only way to get to you. Basically douse yourself in the stuff before you step foot out of the back door.
  • Always thoroughly shower after you have been outside. Usually this is something you’re going to want to do anyway – hot and sweaty isn’t a good feeling – but it’s particularly important. There’s every chance something has latched onto your clothing and is saving their main feast for later on, so ensure you put clothes straight through a hot wash.

Aches and Pains

Garden Flowers

Even for the fittest person in the world, gardening is a tiring thing to do. It’s a legitimate form of exercise that can easily burn calories the same way a thorough gym workout will do.

For a start, there’s lots of bending, stooping, twisting, and turning. Do this often enough and it won’t be long until your muscles are screaming out in protest. Then there is the simple weights-style work; most gardening involves some form of lifting, carrying, and moving various heavy items. It might be carting around a new bag of fertilizer or just going through the process of erecting a fence – but it’s all exercise.

The moment you start to hurt, you’re not having fun anymore. It’s not a pleasant task; it’s something arduous, something you have to get through.

Make It Better:

  • Have suitable painkillers on hand, to be taken as and when you need them. For muscular pain, your best bet is an over-the-counter medication that contains ibuprofen. (And of course the usual disclaimer: read the information leaflet and refer any questions you may have to a medical professional. Let’s be smart about this.) If you’d rather go down the non-medicinal route, then consider pill-free methods of pain relief such as TENS machines.
  • Stop frequently. You’re not working out; there’s no need to “push” yourself or go through “the wall” of pain. Even if you’re working hard, this is first and foremost a leisure activity. So if something hurts: stop. Rest frequently, drink lots of fluids to replace anything you’re losing in sweat, and hide from the heat of the midday sun to give yourself a chance to recharge.
  • Wear supports on any known injuries or areas of weakness. If you can barely walk down a curb without rolling your ankle, then you’re going to roll your ankle walking on uneven, muddy ground. Wear supports where necessary and try and focus on activities that don’t strain these areas. If you have lower back pain – a common complaint for a gardener – then there’s no harm in looking into the kind of belts that weightlifters use.
  • Stretch yourself out after you’ve been in the garden. Any activity has the ability to build lactic acid in your joints, so get rid of this with a few simple stretches.

And Remember…

Garden Statue

Whether you are doing a simple tidy up, a big renovation, or something in between – gardening should be fun. If there is anything holding you back or a job you have been avoiding tackling, then you have three options – but we can all agree that only two of them are viable!

  1. Take the necessary precautions to make it as comfortable an experience for you as possible, and get on with it. Then it’s done and you can forget about it. (Viable).
  2. Hire a professional gardener in to deal with it for you, giving you more time to focus on the things that you actually enjoy. (Viable.)
  3. Don’t do it, never do it, and forever have your entire garden project held up by this one thing that you’re can’t ever bring yourself to tackle. (Not so viable.)

Discomfort makes us shy away from doing anything. No one would go to the gym or even to a movie theater if they ran the risk of overheating, sweating, being covered in bites, and finishing up the day with aching muscles. So it would seem the best thing you can do for your garden is simple: look after the gardener.


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