Enjoying Your Garden and Trees: Self-care while Gardening

This seems to be the year to focus on “self-care”. There is no place where it is more applicable than when gardening. Trees, such as the magnificent Queensland Bottle Tree, Mango tree, or even an olive tree, can represent challenges of all sorts. Feature and architect trees provide unique beauty or utility to your garden or lawn area, or even to wider landscaping development. But that does not prevent there being challenges to you while you are tending your investment in your beautiful trees.

Basic challenges

While some type of trees might present special challenges, nearly all tree types have some things in common. Whether you are dealing with setting out baby trees that will grow into an orchard, transporting a mature tree, or trimming an established tree, there are precautions that you can take to manage your efforts. Here is a short list:

  1. Correct hydration. Whether you are watching the sun turn into a burning disk in the sky or getting out in freezing weather to check your mature plants, take a thermos or water bottle with you. Amazingly, you can become dehydrated working in cold weather as well as hot.
  2. Use good lifting practices and apply technology to help with the really big stuff. Whether you are moving potted plants or bundles of baby trees, weight and repetitive motion have the potential to develop aching muscles at the very least. You probably already know the techniques, such as developing a wide base, lifting by straightening your legs and thighs to prevent undue strain on your back, and holding heavy loads close to the level of your navel.
  3. Take appropriate breaks. While of course you want to get work done, and not waste time, but periodically warming up in cold weather or cooling down in hot weather can help keep up your energy levels and help overcome physical challenges brought on by inclement weather.

Challenges from Specific Plants

  • Yucca Plants. One of the biggest things to watch out for when working with yucca plants is their narrow, stiff leaves. Yucca aliofolia, for example, has long, narrow leaves and are called dagger yucca or sometimes Spanish Dagger. Even yucca pendula, or soft leaved yucca, has a sharp point at the end of each leaf. To avoid getting a rude jab or a cut from your yucca plant regardless of whether you are planting a yucca Filifera, a yucca rostrata, or a Joshua tree, it is a good idea to wear safety goggles and some sort of ear protection when handling these beautiful plants, as well as a good pair of heavy gardening gloves. After all, they originate in a region where plants need to develop protection from predators. A stab from one of their leaves can prove to be quite discouraging – at least for a few moments.
  • Queensland Bottle Tree (Bronchychiton rupestris). Queensland bottle tree are relatively low maintenance and make gorgeous feature trees for your landscape. However, there are a couple of things to think about when caring for them. First, if you are planning to grow them from seeds, be sure to wear gloves. The seed pods have hairs that be irritating. Another thing to keep in mind is your safe lifting techniques. In fact, since we specialize in ready-to-plant mature or nearly mature trees, you might think about some mechanical means for moving large pots that contain young bottle trees.
  • Native Australian Finger Limes. If you have the right climate or if you have a large, protected growing area for container trees, this Australian native is definitely worth growing. It is more of a shrub than a tree and can help round out your plants that originate in Australia. With that said, finger lime plants do need a bit of trimming after they are harvested. Like a lot of low-growing fruit bearing shrubs, “spiky” is a good description for finger limes. A tough pair of gloves and perhaps a long-sleeved shirt are a good idea, just to help protect your hands and arms from the finger-lime’s protective thorns.

Use Machinery to Lighten the Load

Perhaps one of the greatest human achievements is the invention of the wheel. Hand trucks, moving dollies, and carts make it easier to move large containers and plants from one place to another. For larger items, such as mid-growth Dragon Trees (Dracaena Draco) in GRC pots, a fork lift is a good friend to have around.

Speaking of GRC pots, their light-weight toughness are also good to have in any garden project.


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