Those keen to get out in the garden this spring should be wary of risks associated with what awaits.

New Zealanders made 54,519 claims to ACC for gardening injuries last year. Those claims were worth $36,172,401.

The most common claims were for soft tissue injury, suffered by 35,121 gardeners. Lacerations, puncture wounds and stings were the next most common injuries, with 12,060 claims.

Concussions or brain injuries were the cause of 73 gardening-related claims last year, according to ACC.


Darren Saunders of Symbiosis Tree Services in Northland said chainsaws, ladders and lifting all presented gardening hazards.

Chainsaws could inflict severe injuries if the person using them hadn't had proper training. He'd heard of one kicking back and striking somebody in the face.

"He had a chainsaw wound from his forehead down to his bottom jaw and he's going to carry that for life," said Mr Saunders.

Symbiosis had health and safety meetings every day and reported every accident and near miss. Mr Saunders said he and his staff had a combined 40 to 50 years of experience but near misses still took them by surprise.

"Even with our experience...we still get taken by surprise. So what chance does the average Joe Bloggs have? Not much. He's running on a wing and a prayer as far as I can tell."

A Hawke's Bay professional gardener, who declined to be named, said his own brother had put a tree through the corner of his house carrying out tree trimming "the quick way, not the safe way".

He knew of somebody else who was blown off a ladder by the pressure of a waterblaster he was using.

"He's not allowed on the ladder anymore."


He said gardeners, arborists and amenity workers were trained in their jobs and knew how to do things correctly as well as safely.

Peter Healey of Wanganui Garden Services said staying safe while gardening was all about paying attention to your body and taking necessary breaks.

Mr Healey said most people could carry out most of their own gardening with common sense, though jobs such as spraying were best left to professionals.

"Most things like just general tidying up and planting, people are quite capable of doing it themselves if they use a bit of common sense and don't over do it," said Mr Healey.

Frances Palmer of the Nursery and Garden Industry New Zealand said common gardening injuries included scratches from thorns, cuts from knives and secateurs, and sore backs and wrists from bending and pulling.

More serious injuries included pulled and strained muscles from digging and lifting, and legionnaires disease from soil, potting mixes and composts.

In all cases, gardeners needed to be sensible about how they worked, for example by getting help to lift things and always taking heed of the warning labels on bagged mixes and spray bottles.