Gardening is widely considered as relaxing a hobby as it is rewarding. Although gardening when temperatures are mild, such as in spring and fall, can be relaxing, gardening can be much more physically taxing and even dangerous when temperatures rise during the dog days of summer.
Gardens need tending even when temperatures outside are especially hot, so gardeners must take steps to protect their health when working in their gardens during the summer.
- Stay hydrated. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water is something gardeners must do to stay safe when gardening in summer. Water carries heat away from internal organs, helping to prevent heat stroke along the way. Water takes heat through the bloodstream to the skin, resulting in sweat. Gardeners who notice they are not sweating despite the heat should drink more water and even head indoors to cool down. In addition, the American Heart Association notes that keeping the body hydrated helps the heart pump blood more easily, making gardening less taxing on the heart on hot days.
- Take frequent breaks indoors or in shady areas. Limit marathon gardening sessions to spring and fall when the weather permits. When gardening in harsh summertime heat, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises gardeners to take frequent breaks. Head inside to air conditioned rooms, if necessary, or find shady areas to sit, relax and drink some water. Sitting in the shade will give the body’s thermostat a chance to recover from exposure to extreme heat.
- Take note of your physical condition. Many people garden alone, so it’s important that gardeners learn the symptoms of heat-related illnesses. The CDC notes that elevated body temperatures, headache, rapid pulse, dizziness, nausea, and/or confusion are some common symptoms of heat-related illnesses. Gardeners should go indoors the moment any such symptoms appear.
- Garden during the cooler parts of the day. Lawncare professionals advise against watering lawns between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the summertime, as water is more likely to evaporate during this time, which tends to be the hottest time of the day. Gardeners should avoid working in their gardens during these hours as well. Garden in the early morning hours when the sun is not burning as hot or in late afternoon or early evening hours when temperatures are less threatening.
Gardening in summer requires gardeners to exercise caution and assess their physical conditions routinely and honestly.