An overlooked and equally important aspect of landscaping is protection, many people seem to think with landscaping you don’t need any safety protection, I’ve seen people operating trimmers with no eye protection, that’s a recipe for disaster and a very good way to lose an eye. I’ve also seen people operating mowers with regular running shoes on, what if you lost control of the mower and it went over your foot. You lose your foot. A hefty price to pay. One of the companies I worked for had a girl who was operating a mower trying to push it up an incline, it was a hot sunny day, she was tired and for a moment, a lapse in judgment. She lost control. The mower came crashing down, she got her body out the way but not her foot, thankfully she had a pair of steel toe boots that save her feet from becoming amputated. Safety is no joke, and when you are operating equipment it should be your number one concern.
The first layer of protection is your safety glasses. In a job like landscaping where there is lots of debris, bits of grass, twig, rocks and sometimes even glass, you want to protect your eyes. Especially when you are trimming, trimming is probably the most dangerous part of the job, you can’t always control what the trimmer line picks up and whatever it does pick up is going to be sent toward you at a high velocity. Another thing to keep in mind is the direction that debris will be shot toward you with the trimmer, have the line spin away from you, working in the opposite direction the line spins at. Something I never understood is removing the guard off the trimmer, the guard is there for a reason. It’s called a guard and it does a very good job of protecting you from debris, especially when you are line edging. Yet many professionals insist on trimming without the guard.
Regardless if you use a guard or not, you’re going to need safety glasses. The best kind to get are the ones that wrap around your face, covering all angles of your eyes. Even on the lower part where some debris can sneak its way behind the glasses. The ones I use have a string attached to the two arms.
I’ve lost many high-quality safety glasses because I would take them off during lunch or when we were working on a garden and I forgot where I left them. I recommend the XX With the string around the arms so you can just have them hang while you do safer work.
Buy them here .
Once you have the face covered you want to move a little bit lower to the hands, gloves are needed depending on the work you do If you do any heavy manual labor then you should wear gloves. Gloves can also protect you from getting splinters, or thorns stuck in your hand. If you do decide to wear gloves, you should invest in some good ones. Ones that will last a bit more than a season, your gloves will wear out the quickest of any safety protection you use. I recommend the X. Everyone where I worked had them, including myself. I swear by them.
Buy them here.
Moving onto another important piece of protection, the earplug or earmuffs. As a landscaper you’re going to be operating heavy equipment that easily exceeds the amount of decibels that can cause hearing damage. Ear protection is mandatory. There is multiple ways you can protect your ears, you use the actual ear plugs that go inside your ear, a headset style protection that has a built in radio or you can use some music headphones, allowing you to listen to music while working. It’s your decision, what I typically use is either small little in ear protection or the big muffs. I use the small ones if I want the mobility without having to having to carry around a headset, and I’ll use a headset if I know I’m going to be on a machine for a while. It depends on the circumstance however you should always be wearing ear protection. Your hearing is too valuable to lose to negligence.
The next set of protection you want to consider is pants if you plan on trimming. Pants will protect you from most of the debris that hits your legs while trimming, you may hit the occasional object that will go through the pant material but that is rare. Whereas if you wear shorts you’re going to have to deal with not only debris, but grass covering your legs, getting inside your boot and so on. It is personal preference, you don’t have to wear pants but your legs will take a beating if you are trimming. You can pick up a pair of pants that are also breathable here, they come off in sections so if you think it’s too hot you still have the option to wear shorts, just unzip the leg. Many landscapers wear pants like these, and there’s no question why. They are great.
Buy the pants here.
I touched on this before, in the beginning of the article where I told the story of a girl I worked with who almost lost her foot if it wasn’t for her steel-toed boots she had on. Foot protection is very important, especially when you are using a mower. Blade can spin at a speed of 3000 RPMs for your typical homeowner mower and for a commercial mower a blade can spin in the range of 40,000 RPMs. You must wear steel toed boots. I wore heavy-duty construction boots that I had for a previous construction job, they were big and clunky. I would not recommend them for landscaping, get something light. You do a lot of walking and there is a world of difference between walking an entire day in heavy construction boots and walking in something lighter. Regular shoes felt like clouds after a long days work. Make sure whatever you get has sufficient grip, often time you will be cutting in wet grass where you can lose traction if you’re on a slope and your boots don’t have the traction you are required. I’ve seen a lot of landscapers use these, they are lightweight and provide good traction.
You can buy them here.
Now that we have our whole body covered, we’re ready to go out in the blazing hot sun and tackle or work..right? Not so fast. Before you do ANY work outside you should put on sunblock, skin cancer is a very serious thing and it’s extremely common with people who spend a lot of time outdoors. It’s a slow killer, you won’t know you have it until it’s too late and symptoms have already developed. As outdoors men we tend to take this one for granted the most, we love the outdoors, and we forget that the sun despite providing us warmth and enjoyment, can also harm us, and eventually even kill us. Skin protection should always be a concern. Make sure you buy sunscreen lotion that is properly rated for the intensity of the sun you plan to work in. I recommend this, they’re a good product and a large reason why I haven’t burned this entire year despite it being one of the hottest.
The final thing I want to go over is simple awareness, the safety equipment I have listed here are great but the best piece of equipment is our own brains. If a job doesn’t look safe, or you don’t think the mower will be able to handle the incline or slope, don’t try to. Be aware of the people around you, especially if you are working near residential or high traffic areas. If people are close, turn the equipment off or leave it in idle and pull the throttle back. This rule holds even more weight if there are children nearby, children are more sensitive to loud noises and their hearing hasn’t fully developed which makes them more susceptible to hearing damage from loud equipment. Be mindful of your co-workers too. If you’re trimming and one of the guys on a mower is passing by, stop trimming and wait for your path to be clear. A general rule is the person on the heavy equipment has right of way, so the guy on the trimmer should idle his machine and wait.
Safety is an overlooked aspect of a landscapers work, there are many hidden dangers when you are operating heavy or light machinery, dangers not only to yourself but also to others as well. We often forget in the comfort of our own backyard that the equipment we are operating has the potential to change our lives, for ever. We often forget when we work for a commercial company, on the same piece of equipment for many years that the equipment is still dangerous and can still injure us just as severely as when we first started. This is why it is important to wear the proper safety equipment and to always be aware of our surroundings because if we don’t we could change our lives, or someone else’s forever and that is a burden that no one would want to live with.