Without wanting to tempt fate, perhaps we have turned our back on the winter. The days are getting longer, the heating is turned down and the birds compete for pole position in the garden, full of the joys of spring!
At this time of year, we all start itching to get out in the garden, cut the grass and tidy up after the dark winter months. Tempting tho' it is to crack on and 'blitz' it, it pays to be cautious and pace yourself. I always see a glut of 'gardener's back' at this time of year; people paying the price for overdoing it.
A few words of warning...
- Warm up - like any form of exercise, warm up the muscles and joints with some lighter tasks before attempting the heavier jobs.
- Get down and dirty - rather than bending from the waist, get down on your hands and knees. Use a kneeling cushion (an old bin bag filled with old carrier bags, shredded newspaper or even some lawn-mowings will do) and make sure that you try to keep your back flat, rather than 'sagging' in the middle (this will help to tone up your tummy muscles too!).
- Pace yourself - vary your activities and take regular breaks to prevent overuse of a particular set of muscles. Try to stop and have a wriggle and a rest every 20-30 minutes - after all, you need to stand back and appreciate your hard work!
- Share the load - if you've got any heavy jobs to do, get someone to help if possible. It is better to carry half the load twice as often - so don't overfill the bucket or the wheelbarrow! Invest in a smaller, lighter spade and fork so you don't have to do such heavy digging, and try to let the soil dry out a little so it is lighter.
- 'One man went to mow...' - for the first cut, raise the level of the mower - it will be easier to cut and to push - even if you have to do a second mow a few days later! Wait until the grass has dried out a bit; it will be easier to cut than when it is wet.
- Happy shoppers - if you're heading to the garden centre, make sure you use a trolley. When purchasing heavy items like cement or gravel, try to buy several smaller bags rather than one big one - they are safer and easier to carry. If possible, get heavy items delivered, and have them unloaded as close to where you need them as possible - this will save you the effort of moving them again!
- And relax - make sure you have a comfortable garden chair and favourite mug to use in the garden. It is important to allow time to enjoy the fruits of your labour, so sit back, listen to the birds and catch a few freckles in the spring sunshine!