Understanding Gardening Challenges: 13 Legitimate Disadvantages

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

Gardening is punted as “good for your health”. You can read the advantages of gardening just about anywhere. Nonetheless, not many people give much thought to the possible health risks involved when participating in a bit of gardening. Are there any risks? 

I, an avid gardener, am somewhat sad to admit that there are several disadvantages and risks of gardening. And while I don’t want to speak poorly of my favorite hobby in the world, it is only fair that I ensure you are fully informed before deciding whether gardening is the hobby for you or not.

13 disadvantages and risks of gardening:

  1. Exposure to Clostridium Tetani which leads to Tetanus,
  2. Back pain and strain,
  3. Possible tick bites which can lead to Lyme disease,
  4. Dehydration,
  5. Sunburn,
  6. Allergic reactions,
  7. Sore wrists (Carpal Tunnel),
  8. Exposure to chemicals,
  9. Exposure to spores, mold, and dust,
  10. Cuts and scratches,
  11. Exposure to pet droppings,
  12. Exhaustion,
  13. Financial loss.

Does this mean that gardening is a bad idea? No, it definitely does not mean that! While gardening comes with its risks, these can be mitigated if you put several safety precautions in place. If you would like to learn more about the disadvantages, risks and dangers of gardening, and what you can do to mitigate them, read on.

1. Exposure to Clostridium Tetani, which leads to Tetanus.

Within your garden soil and various manure products, bacteria exist. Bacteria can pose a health risk to you and others. Clostridium Tetani is a live bacterium that you need to be careful of. It lives in the soil and various manure products and typically enters the body through cuts and sores. When the bacteria enter the body, it quickly multiplies and converts into a poison. Signs of Tetanus include muscle spasms and stiffness. 

The next time you head out to do a bit of gardening, do yourself a favor and wear a pair of gloves. If you do not have gardening gloves, simply cover up any cuts, sores, and scratches that you have.

2. Gardening can cause back pain and strain.

Just like exercising, gardening has to be done right if you want to avoid back pain and strain. It just takes one wrong movement involving the back, and you could be stuck with lower back pain for months. It’s just like twisting your back in the gym – the pain can take many months to repair. How can you damage your back while gardening? There is a lot of bending, lifting, leaning, stretching, and sweeping movements when gardening. You can avoid back pain in the following ways:

  • Always try to bend your knees when lifting heavy objects and when using a spade/shovel.
  • Sit flat when weeding and maintain a good posture instead of kneeling or sitting on your haunches.
  • Avoid putting excess strain on your back and shoulders. Instead, use a wheelbarrow instead of carting things by hand.

3. Gardening can expose you to possible tick bites, which can lead to Lyme disease.

We treat our pets for ticks because they run around outside in the long grass, so it is only natural to expect to find ticks in our gardens. When a tick bites you, it can lead to more than just a sore and itchy bump. How do you know if you have been bitten by a tick? Lyme disease, which can result from a tick bite, presents in the form of chills, feverishness, muscle aches and pains, and if not treated, it can even lead to long term nerve damage.

To avoid getting Lyme disease while gardening, make sure that you use a tick repellant while working outside. Also, check your whole body thoroughly after gardening. And if you are bitten by a tick, see a doctor immediately for treatment.

4. Gardening can lead to dehydration.

If you are anything like me, you can spend many hours in the garden. Often, I do have a water bottle with me, but, on some occasions, I become so engrossed in what I am doing that I forget to hydrate. If it is a particularly hot day, it can lead to severe thirst, headaches, and even feeling light-headed. In some instances, it can lead to full-blown dehydration

To avoid dehydration, make sure that you have a bottle of water with you at all times. Simply sip from it every half hour or so. If you do become dehydrated, rehydrate slowly by sipping on some water and resting. Do not overdo it because you might get sick.

5. Gardening can lead to sunburn.

Sunburn is not fun to deal with. In fact, it can be extremely unpleasant. If you spend a few hours in the garden on a hot day, you can walk away quite sunburned. Not only can this damage the skin, but it can also lead to cancer. You can avoid sunburn while gardening by wearing a hat, sunglasses, and protective clothing.

6. Gardening can cause allergic reactions.

While gardening, you might not know which plants and insects pose a risk to you. There are many plants that are poisonous and can cause you to have an allergic reaction. There are also insects such as bees, wasps, hairy caterpillars, and so on. When gardening, treat every plant and insect with caution if you are not sure what it is. Wear gloves to protect your hands, as well as protective shoes. 

7. Gardening can lead to sore wrists (Carpal Tunnel).

If you thought that Carpal Tunnel was a syndrome that you could only get from typing, think again. You can actually develop Carpel Tunnel if you consistently do heavy, repetitive work using your hands and wrists. This can lead to the nerves being compressed, which leads to pain, tingling, and possible numbness.

To avoid sore wrists or development of Carpal Tunnel, treat your gardening session like a gym workout. Before you get started, do a few wrist flexibility stretches.

8. Gardening can expose you to chemicals.

Fertilizers and pesticides come in chemical forms. If you do not use these chemicals correctly, you can suffer from chemical exposure. If you are going to use chemicals in the garden, make sure that you read the labels and inserts carefully. Know of the risks and prepare the chemicals in the correct way. If you would rather avoid chemicals, opt for making natural fertilizers and pesticides, for your safety and the safety of the environment. 

9. Gardening can lead to exposure to spores, mold, and dust.

You might not know this, but certain areas of your garden and some of the products that you use can expose you to spores, mold, and dust. Dust, bacteria, and fungi are present in decomposing material, which you can breathe in while working. If you have asthma or bronchitis or if you are prone to chest infections, you need to be particularly careful with this.

10. Gardening can cause unexpected cuts and scratches.

While gardening, you might end up getting cut and scratched by thorns, sticks, branches, stones, and even your gardening equipment. Make sure that you have plasters and some antibacterial wash available when gardening – just in case. To avoid getting cuts and scratches, work with gloves on and wear clothing that covers your arms and legs. If you do get a cut or scratch, clean it out and cover it up immediately.

11. Gardening can expose you to pet droppings.

If you have a cat or a dog, your soil could be contaminated with Toxocara-Canis and Toxoplasmosis. These contaminants are from dog and cat droppings, and if you have kids, it can pose a serious risk to their health. If you want to avoid exposure, use well-composted manure in order to reduce the amount of pathogens in the soil. Also, wear gloves while gardening.

12. Gardening can result in exhaustion.

If you put in a few hours of heavy gardening, such as hedge trimming, lawn mowing, digging garden beds, carting wheelbarrows of dirt, and weeding, you are going to end up physically tired. When I garden all day, I really “put my back into it” and end up utterly exhausted at the end of the day. You cannot really avoid exhaustion unless you take it easy or look for a gardening buddy/partner to help with the load.

13. Gardening can lead to financial loss.

When I first started gardening, I learned a hard lesson about budgeting. I went out and bought new tools and seeds, and I was prone to “winging” it instead of searching for conservative ways to garden. Nowadays, I know the importance of looking around for second-hand garden equipment, scooping seeds out of my own vegetables, and installing DIY irrigation systems to ensure water is not wasted while watering the garden. 

Try Your Hand at Risk-Proof Gardening

Now that you know what the possible risks of gardening are, you can avoid certain risks and hazards. By taking precautions and being aware of the disadvantages, you can plan your gardening more effectively and ensure that your gardening experiences are risk-proof. 

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He covers topics like spirituality, philosophy, finance, sports, games, and food. JC earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business with a Marketing Concentration at Mercyhurst University. He is a certified USPTA professional who teaches tennis in the New York City Metropolitan area. He has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.