My Safety Tips for Gardening with Parkinson’s Disease

Sherri Woodbridge avatar

by Sherri Woodbridge |

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Sherri Journeying Through

If you’re like me, you can’t wait for the weather to warm up so you can go outside in your garden. You may be new to getting your hands in the dirt or an old hand at gardening. No matter what category you fit into, safety is always in style, especially if you have Parkinson’s disease (PD). 

Gardeners can be prone to tetanus infections

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the bacteria that causes tetanus lives in the soil and can enter the body through breaks in the skin, especially when using sharp tools, digging in the dirt, or handling plants with sharp points.

Tetanus is a serious disease, which when left untreated can be fatal. Risk factors include failure to get vaccinated or booster shots, open wounds, and foreign bodies such as splinters entering the skin.

Before you begin gardening …

  • Make sure your tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccination is up to date. Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D) generally covers shots needed to prevent illness. Contact your Medicare plan to find out information about your coverage.
  • Have a good set of gardening gloves to lower the risk of skin irritations and cuts and to keep you safe from nasty stuff lurking in the soil.
  • Apply sunscreen. People with Parkinson’s have a higher risk of skin cancer. Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your head from strong rays. Consumer Reports recommends the following sunscreen products: La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-in Sunscreen Milk and Equate Sport Lotion, which has SPF 50 coverage.
  • Steer clear of chemicals. Use organic methods to rid your garden of pests instead of using pesticides that have been linked to Parkinson’s disease.
  • Stay hydrated. Overheating can lead to heat stroke and other health risks for PD patients. Take a break and enjoy a glass of iced tea while you admire your flowers. Appreciating the results of your efforts is an essential part of gardening.


Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


Dr. C avatar

Dr. C

Sherri: I used this informative column as a reference in my column on Nature as part of the CHRONDI Creed and a healthy part of life (been using your columns often). I do so love gardening - just would like the winter to be shorter so I can do more of it. This year was the first time I planted 100 spring bulbs indoors - just didn't have enough time in the fall to get them all in the ground. So -- I'll be planting them as plants, in a month hopefully.

Sherri Woodbridge avatar

Sherri Woodbridge

Dr. C - thanks for referencing back to my article. It sounds like we have the same love for gardening!


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