Safely Tending to your Church’s Lawn
Keep these tips in mind as you care for your church’s landscaping
With the onset of summer comes the annual quest for a lush, green lawn. As churches prepare to wage their battle against pests, weeds, and overgrown grass, safety is important to keep in mind. Regardless of whether your church uses chemicals, lawn mowers, or hedge trimmers, lawn care can be dangerous when not executed properly.
Following these tips can help you keep safety a priority while completing your church’s yard work.
Using Lawn Chemicals
As they strive for a beautiful lawn, many people turn to chemicals for assistance. Whether your church’s yard requires pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers, exercise caution before, during, and after handling dangerous chemicals.
- Read and obey the labels.
- Remove all children and pets from the area.
- Wear goggles, a respirator, and a rubber apron, along with rubber gloves, while mixing pesticides or herbicides.
- Have a hose with you to rinse off chemicals you may come into contact with.
- Keep an absorbent material on hand while mixing chemicals, in case of spills.
- Wear a hat, a long-sleeved shirt, long-legged pants, unlined rubber gloves, and unlined boots. Lined gloves and boots can absorb chemicals, causing skin irritation. Add a dust mask when applying fertilizer.
- Do not eat, drink, or smoke.
- Avoid windy days whenever applying pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers.
- Secure chemicals in a locked cabinet or building.
- Store products in their original containers.
- Dispose of chemicals responsibly.
- Wash your hands thoroughly, change clothes, and take a shower.
- Wash clothing separately from other clothing and line-dry. Clean the washing machine afterward by running a load without clothing.
- Throw away clothes contaminated with chemical concentrate.
- Keep humans and animals off of the grass for at least 24 hours after fertilizer application.
If you plan on applying chemicals to your church’s lawn, consider hiring a certified professional instead. Using a professional lawn care service will reduce your church’s exposure to liability and will most likely give you the best results.
For more information on applying herbicides safely, read these guidelines. For more on using pesticides, check out this publication created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Mowing the Lawn
Once the grass begins to grow, it’s only a matter of time before the roar of lawn mowers fills the air. Regular mowing keeps grass from becoming overgrown, which in turn keeps church property looking its best. Whether you’re a lawn care veteran, or it’s your first season behind the wheel of a riding mower, it’s important to be mindful of lawn mower safety.
- Read and familiarize yourself with the owner’s manual.
- Wear a long-sleeved shirt; long-legged pants; and sturdy, slip-proof shoes— never flip-flops.
- Wear tight-fitting clothing. Loose clothes can get caught in a mower’s moving parts.
- Remove jewelry, which can be snagged by the moving parts of a lawn mower.
- Pick up trash and debris. Lawn mowers can throw rocks and other projectiles at a speed of more than 200 miles per hour.
- Inspect blades, and sharpen them if needed.
- Check oil level.
- Start up the lawn mower outside, rather than in a garage or shed, to avoid inhaling gasoline fumes.
- Turn off the lawn mower before filling with gasoline.
- Only fuel on pavement—never on grass.
- Wear ear protection. Eye protection is also recommended.
- Don’t smoke; especially while filling the lawn mower with gasoline.
- Keep an eye out for children and pets, and never allow kids to drive or ride along on a riding mower.
- Don’t allow children under the age of 12 to use a push mower, and keep kids younger than 16 away from riding mowers.
- Never pull push mowers toward yourself.
- When using a riding mower, go up and down hills vertically. When using a push mower, go across inclines horizontally.
For more information about lawn mower safety, go to healthfinder.gov.
General Lawn Care Safety
Many church property projects consist of general lawn care: planting flowers, pulling weeds, and trimming hedges. It’s important to keep safety in mind while doing even the smallest of outdoor jobs.
- Put on gloves while working in the yard.
- Wear sturdy shoes—not flip-flops or sandals.
- Use sun block and keep cold drinking water on hand—especially on hot summer days.
- Maintain a clean work area to reduce the chance of slipping and falling.
- Keep an eye out for poison ivy, oak, and sumac growing on church property. When you find them, get rid of them.
- Check for insect nests periodically. Consider hiring a professional to remove hives and nests when necessary.
- After storms, check trees for damaged limbs that could fall.
- Make sure any extension cords are in good condition and labeled for outdoor use.
- When using a string trimmer (also known as a weed eater), wear eye protection, gloves, and long-legged pants. Read and familiarize yourself with the owner’s manual.
This summer, as your church maintains a healthy lawn, don’t forget to make safety a priority. Keep these tips in mind whether you’re using chemicals, a lawn mower, or a trowel.