There are some people who just have a knack for growing fruits and vegetables or beautiful, award-winning flowers. Whether you’re gardening for the first time or you’re a seasoned professional, don’t overlook gardening safety.

Here are a few tips to protect against gardening hazards:

Inspect your equipment and fuel levels. If you followed manufacturer recommendations for storing your seasonal equipment, you should be able to place fresh gasoline or a gas/oil mix in the tank. If you still have fuel from last fall, ensure it didn’t gel over the winter months. Trying to start equipment with gelled fuel will likely end your gardening season before it begins. Also check spark plugs for corrosion.

Dress appropriately. Wear closed-toe, durable shoes (not canvas sneakers) or boots to maintain secure footing and protect your feet from ants, biting insects, moving machinery, and other hazards.

Wear a hat and gloves. Choose a hat with a brim and general duty work gloves. The hat will protect your skin from ultraviolet rays, and the gloves will protect your hands from blisters and chemical absorption.

Use proper lifting techniques. Improper lifting or twisting at the waist when you’re carrying a load can set you up for long-term back pain. Lift with your legs instead of your back and avoid twisting. Be aware of your posture whenever you’re lifting fertilizer bags, placing decorative stone or doing any other lifting work.

Call your utility companies. If you are starting a garden or doing any digging, call your utility companies first. They can mark your utility lines so you don’t end up compromising your phone or internet service — and possibly paying a penalty for not calling in advance.

Know how to operate your equipment. If you’re renting equipment like a tiller or small tractor, ask the lender to show you how to use it. Or check if the manufacturer offers an instructional video.

Use chemicals wisely. In addition to protecting yourself from skin and eye exposure and inhalation, use only the recommended amount of product. Using more than what’s recommended can pose hazards to pets and wildlife, and even damage your lawn and garden. And only buy the amount you need. Bulk-storing open containers or bags of chemicals in a garage or shed is asking for trouble. As temperatures rise, the chemicals produce vapors, creating fire and respiratory hazards while also evaporating or absorbing moisture, making them ineffective for future use.

Gardening requires more than seeds, water and soil. It also takes hard work and know-how. Keep these safety tips in mind before you start your next gardening project.

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