In a previous post, I wrote about some things I have learned about yard work. That post focused on uniform and tools. Here I’ll add some technique tips that are probably obvious to anyone who’s done this kind of work but that I learned along the way.
Hydration is Vital
I don’t ordinarily get (or feel) dehydrated, and I don’t carry a water bottle on my daily (45-minute) walks, but when I started doing the yard work at the Old Library, I found that I did need to resort to the water bottle I keep in the car. This was winter, though, so I wasn’t sweating much. As the days became warmer, I started going through more and more water, and sometimes it wasn’t really doing the trick. That’s when I figured out that water is essential, but Gatorade is better. I now go through a 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade and a 20-ounce bottle of water during each yard work session (and I still come home dehydrated).
For a septuagenarian with bad knees and hips, squatting is pretty much impossible and bending over gets old in a hurry. To reduce the amount of bending required, I find it helpful to work uphill. If the weeds I’m pulling or the leaves I’m scooping up are slightly higher than my feet, I don’t have to bend so far.
Make Deep Piles
By the same token, bending can be reduced by raking debris into bigger piles before scooping it into the tub for transport. Scoop off the top layer, then rake some more to make the pile higher again. Eventually, of course, you reach the bottom and have to bend all the way over, but this does still help.
Don’t Be Afraid to Kneel or Sit
There’s only so much you can do standing up, and sometimes (as when digging “potatoes”), you have to get down and dirty. I have a foam kneeling pad (similar to this one) that helps for that, not just for padding but also to keep my overalls from getting quite so grubby. Now I’m wondering if actual knee pads might be even more handy.
My Watch Battery Lasts Seven Hours, Period
For years I have used a Garmin Forerunner 405CX sport watch to track my daily walks and other activities, so I wear it when I’m doing yard work as well. The “course” that it displays, even at the highest zoom, is not very meaningful (see below), nor do I necessarily trust the mileage (the reported distance for the activity shown below was 6.36 miles, which is a little difficult to credit given the size of the place), but it’s helpful for keeping track of time and giving me a sense of accomplishment.
The watch specs claim that the battery will last eight hours in “training mode” (that is, with the GPS turned on and the timer running), but in my experience, it pretty much gives up after seven. Worse still, if the battery gives out while the timer is running, the watch gets confused and won’t sync to Garmin Connect. So I’ve learned to stop the watch at seven hours even if I actually work longer. Realistically, though, seven hours is about my limit as well, so perhaps the watch’s limitation is a helpful one!