Cleaning up your yard is a fall chore that can be fun, depending on how you approach it. Yes, it’s hard work. And yes, it’s irritating that it’s something you have to do rather than choose to do. But it’s also a sign of the approaching holidays. It’s a herald of all the fun that’s in store. It’s also a great way to get more exercise outdoors. If you think of it as a fall activity on par with apple picking, it can soon become something you look forward to.
The big problem with fall clean-up is that you can injure yourself. Many people don’t think about hurting themselves around their homes. When it’s a task like yardwork, it can seem so routine that you don’t consider safety. However, yardwork — especially fall yardwork — should come with some safety tips.
’Tis the season of raking! Unfortunately, that also means back injuries! Raking doesn’t seem hard until you’re doing it. Stretch beforehand just like you would any other workout. Leaves are heavier than you think, and you get a whole-body workout moving them. It’s important to lift with your knees, not your back. It’s also essential to shift with your knees, not twist your back as you throw leaves, as it can cause unnecessary strain. Rakes also come in different sizes. It’s important to have one that fits the task you are performing. Different types of leaves are easier to rake with certain rakes. While raking, you should also wear gloves to protect your hands from blisters and cuts.
Moving around on wet leaves and damp ground can be slippery. Shoes with good traction can help you stay upright and prevent falls. If you need to do heavy yardwork like pruning dead branches, you should consider steel-toe boots to protect yourself. Clothes that cover you are also a must. That includes long sleeves and pants to protect you from scratches, the sun and insects. It also means ear plugs or eye protection if you do work that’s loud or going to have dust or particles flying in your face.
When you’re having fun, think about your tools. Sheers and trimmers can cause serious injuries. In 2015, more than 64,000 people went to the ER because of injuries from hand-operated gardening tools. Just because something is small doesn’t mean it can’t cause you serious harm. The same thing goes for ladders and stools. Pay attention when you climb a ladder to hang a ghost from a tree or clean your windows or gutters. Make sure it’s stable, that you don’t climb higher than you need and that you aren’t stretching far away from the ladder to do things. Know if there are underground powerlines or shallow pipes running through your yard before you start digging. You can cause blackouts to your neighborhood and burn yourself if you hit a powerline!
Keep a few things in mind when you get rid of leaves. If you are burning them, it’s important not to pour gas on a fire. Let your leaves burn on their own. While you may want to speed up the process, the risk of a massive fire is too dangerous. If you are bagging your leaves to dispose of them, don’t overfill them. It’s tempting to fill bags to the top — especially the orange ones that look like pumpkins. But wet leaves are heavy, and you can injure your back trying to lift them once they are full. Find out when leaf pickup day is and if you have to pay. You don’t want to end up lumbered with bags of leaves that rot without a way to get rid of them.
Finally, we have a tip for safety and a way to have more fun: company. Using the buddy system means you have a spotter when doing something dangerous. You also have someone to help you lift heavy things. You split the labor and take strain off your body. And you have fun making it a communal activity!
Enjoy fall clean-up. With a tidy outdoor area, you can put up Halloween decorations and display pumpkins before it’s time to hang the holiday lights!