This Gardening Thing is Killing Us


Why is it that the Brits have more interesting gardening news than us?  According to this article in the Telegraph, gardening injuries land 87,000 of our friends on the other side of the pond in the hospital every year.  (we’ve done the math for you–as a percentage of the population, that would be roughly equivalent to 438,000 injuries in the US.  And in fact, a 2004 estimate of garden tool injuries in 2004 put the number at about 400,000.)

Let’s review the numbers, shall we?

6500 were injured by a lawn mower.  In the United States, about 80,000 people per year require hospitalization for lawn mower injuries.  According to the US study, "The rate is about half the number treated for firearms injuries
annually. In addition to strikes from flying projectiles, the most
common causes of injury for people over age 15 were non-specific pain
after mowing and injuries occurring while servicing the mower. The most
common injury requiring hospitalization was fractures of the foot.


Flower pots (carrying them?  Having them thrown at you?) cause 5300 injuries in the UK. We were unable to locate statistics on flower pot injuries in the United States, but there has been some talk of flammable flower pots, perhaps related to them being used as an ashtray, at Consumer Reports.

Forks, shears, spades, hoses, and other such hazards accounted for the remaining injuries.  Overall,  if you account for all the people who didn’t go to the hospital but perhaps should have, roughly 300,000 Brits are injured in the garden each year, and apparently it’s all the fault of  Alan Titchmarsh and Gardener’s World on the BBC.   Here in the US, we do have some overall stats for gardeners age 65 and older–100,000 injuries and 51 deaths (the deaths including "tripping on garden hoses," chainsaws,  and garden tillers, but mostly lawn mowers were to blame.  Especially riding  mowers that tend to roll off embankments.)  But no such detailed study on the under 65 crowd, alas.

Gardening.  It’s a grim business.  Be careful out there.


  1. ” the most common cause[sic] of injury for people over age 15 [was] non-specific pain

    Hell… I have that.

    Or had it. But I didn’t think it had anything to do with mowing. (It went away when began divorce preceedings.)

  2. Were it not for a spouse who is handy with steri-strips, I’d have had my share of trips to the ER to get those ‘borderline’ cuts stitched up. I’d say the culprits were shears, pruners and plant fibers (pulling certain plants the wrong way while not wearing gloves). But in all cases, it was my own stupidity.

  3. When I was a teen the group I was friends with included a girl whose brother had cut off one of his toes with a lawnmower.

    He kept it in a jar of formaldehyde. She offered to let us all look at it, but I don’t think anybody said yes.

  4. Let’s see…. there was the time i took a big chunk out of my thumb with the felcos. The time I cut the conduit instead of the Dutchman’s Pipe vine. Lovely shower of sparks. The time I was 8 1/2 months pregnant and up in the apple tree pruning the @#$@%$ water sprouts. I’d say my most hazardous garden mishaps all involved pruners of some sort. Not lawn mowers. But then, I don’t mow, that is spouse’s job, me not being overly fond of small gasoline engines.

  5. I know a kids whose step dad ran over his foot with a rolling lawn aereator (sp?). All of those spikes went through his foot. His step dad was having him stand on the side of it to put more weight on the spikes, and he slipped.

  6. Every time I mow I wear safety glasses, out of a perpetual fear of kicking up a stick or rock into my eyes. I never see anyone else wearing safety glasses while mowing, and always feel a bit of a geek. Looking at all the mower injuries though…wow. I feel better for taking that step.

  7. Darn it, Hank, I almost spit out my water!

    I’m with Craig, I have had my share of gardening mishaps (including irrevocably altering my fingerprints this spring courtesy of inattention to a pair of Felcos) but they were all my fault. (Said Felcos should not have been cutting what they were cutting, and I wasn’t paying attention on top of the first mistake.)

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