Experts: Safety gear a must for landscaping

Deborah Prescott | Daily Press Karson Krutina, right, arranges stones during a landscaping job Wednesday afternoon while Nick Trudea empties a wheelbarrow of the stone. The crew from Borman Landscaping was working on a standard landscaping job in front of Peninsula Federal Credit Union recently.

ESCANABA — Property owners find summer the best time to landscape. Besides deciding the types of bushes, flowers or structures, there could be more to consider depending how involved the landscaping plan is. Safety should be at the top of the list — whether the plan is small or a complete redesign, it is always better to put safety first.

Employees of Borman Landscaping in Escanaba wear various types of safety protection.

“We wear safety boots to protect feet … hearing and eye protection, sunscreen, bug spray and hard hats,” said Borman Landscaping Crew Leader Marcus Crawford. “It depends on the work. We carry a lot of water — that’s very important.”

Crawford noted part of safety is understanding every tool they use before using it.

Heat, power tools, and sharp instruments are all hazards property owners come across when landscaping. Novice landscapers should have the correct personal protective equipment before starting any work, have water to drink on hot days to prevent heat exhaustion, and stretch beforehand to prevent muscle strains.

To protect hands, wear gloves appropriate for the task. Safety glasses and hearing protection are equally important. All cutting tools should be sharp and not dull. Dull tools are more dangerous because more exertion is needed than the sharper tools.

Before using a tool, read the directions and always understand how the tools work. Tillers, blowers, mowers and trenchers can cause injuries when not used properly or they malfunction. Reading the safety manual before using a new tool may prevent injury.

Disconnect power to a tool and check that all parts stopped moving before attempting to repair it or clear a jam. Do not wear loose fitting ­clothing that may get caught in a machine and wear appropriate footwear — not sandals or flip-flops.

A successful landscaping project starts with a plan. In that plan should be a call to “Miss Dig.” The Michigan Utility Notification Center, known as the “Miss Dig” system, will locate all utility lines in the area the work will be performed. The service is free and helps prevent the added expense of utility line repairs because shovels or other tools cut through the line. Call before the excavation project starts, as it may take up to two days before they can arrive.

Michigan law requires all lines be flagged to avoid costly fines. Know what’s below — Red flags indicate an electric or lighting line is underground, green is sewer, gold is telephone or cable TV, blue marks a water line, and a yellow flag is for gas, steam or a liquid pipeline.

The most damage to utility lines occur during summer months. Something as simple as putting up a tent for a celebration or replacing a mailbox post warrant a call to Miss Dig. Anytime the ground is going to be disturbed a property owner should know what’s hiding under foot. Call 811 or 800-482-7171 to have the utility lines in the work space marked.

Do not forget to apply for any permits that may be needed before starting certain segments of landscaping. The City of Escanaba Planning and Zoning Administrator Roxanne Spencer said within the city limits of Escanaba, depending on the type of landscaping, certain permits maybe needed. It’s important to contact city hall to find out if any are needed.

“If any structure is going to be added to the property — deck, gazebo, pool, shed — a zoning permit is needed within the city limits of Escanaba,” said Spencer. “A permit is needed for fencing, including a hedge planted around the outer edge of the property.”

Spencer noted violation notices will be sent out to property owners with grass and weeds higher than 10 inches, violating a city ordinance. Permit applications can be downloaded from the city of Escanaba’s website, or picked up from the Zoning office on the second floor in city hall. Call 786-9402 for more information.

Delta County Building and Zoning Administrator Dan Menacher said permits for landscaping are rare.

“A permit would be needed for a retaining wall that exceeds four feet in height, and a deck attached to a home,” said Menacher. “Much of the landscaping does not need a permit.”

If there are any uncertainties contact Delta County Building and Zoning at 789-5189.