Gardening & Your Health: Carpal Tunnel

outlook_a01k_bannerGardening with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) can be very difficult, especially when a long day of shoveling, raking, or weed pulling leaves you with a painful or “tingling” hand or wrist. These aches and pains are often caused in part by improper techniques or tools used in gardening.

Repetitive motion injuries, such as CTS, result from performing a task or motion repeatedly without giving the body time to rest, recuperate and repair from the activity. These injuries may also be increased by awkward positions or postures, vibration, and using hands to pound or push on things.
With carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive wrist and/or finger movements out of the neutral position (the slightly upward bent position where the least amount of strain is put on the wrist) can lead to injury. The injury occurs in the carpal tunnel (the area composed of small bones and an encircling ligament at the base of the hand). Flexor tendons (the tendons that generate finger movement) and/or the synovium (the lining of the carpal tunnel) become swollen and inflamed. These inflamed tendons then press against other body parts in the carpal tunnel, quite frequently against the median nerve.
The median nerve passes through the carpal tunnel, conducting impulses from the brain down the arm to the thumb, forefinger, middle finger and half of the ring finger. When pressed, numbness and tingling may occur. Blood flow through the carpal tunnel may also be reduced, often resulting in cold fingers.
Symptoms Of CTS:
  • numb hands and fingers
  • wrist and finger pain
  • “pins and needles” sensation in fingers
  • reduced grasping strength
  • cold fingers
Gardening Activities Associated With CTS:
  • weed pulling
  • planting
  • hoeing
  • raking
  • transplanting
  • pruning
Factors Contributing To CTS While Gardening:
  • repeated wrist motions
  • long periods of hand movements
  • using poorly designed tools
  • pounding or pushing with your hands
Women are also more prone to develop CTS than are men. In addition, CTS can be further aggravated or negatively influenced by the following conditions:
  • age
  • cool temperatures
  • pregnancy
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • diabetes
  • vitamin B-6 deficiency
Preventing Pain from CTS While Gardening
It is possible to enjoy gardening without pain or risk of developing CTS by using the following simple techniques:

  1. Vary activities and motions or tasks within those activities frequently.
  2. Take frequent rests from repetitive motions.
  3. Use the correct posture for all tasks.
  4. Use ergonomically designed tools that conform to your hand. Do not force your hand to adapt to poorly fitting tools. Tool handles are available with varying designs relative to diameter, attachment angles, coatings (anti-slip), contouring (finger grips), coverings (rubber cushioning), etc., that fit individuals better. Test tools before buying.
  5. Use wrist supports to keep wrist immobilized or in the neutral position.
  6. Don’t push with the thumb, or if it is necessary, then keep it in its neutral position (the position it’s in when hand is at rest) (See Figures 1a, 1b, 1c below). Wrap thumbs around handles to avoid positioning them lengthwise along handles.
  7. Stop at the first sign of pain. See a physician if the pain is persistent.
  8. Decrease the rate of any repetitious task, and take frequent rests from gripping tasks such as pruning.
  9. Grasp, don’t pinch tools, pots, etc.
  10. Use a drip irrigation system to alleviate the need to drag hoses and sprinklers around the yard, reducing the strain on joints.
  11. Request exercises from your doctor to build up shoulder, mid-back and other muscles that may weaken when activities concentrate on other muscles. Also do conditioning exercises that strengthen the hand and arm muscles.
 Figure 1a. Flexed wrist position.
 Figure 1b. Neutral wrist position
 Figure 1c. Extended wrist position.

Using these techniques, many of the activities of gardening that can cause or aggravate carpal tunnel syndrome can be avoided.

Prepared by Mary Predny from an article written by Bonnie Appleton for NMPro magazine.
In cooperation with the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service, Virginia Tech and Virginia State University.

Williams Bay Outdoor Products

outlook_w18_bannerWilliams Bay offers a complete line of fiberglass and patented Stonelite and Aged-Lite planters. They have a full service in-house design team that provides product development for their customers’ needs and they can go from design to proto-type in 2 weeks. They have a full service tool room and manufacture and maintain all of their own tooling.

Fiberglass, Stonelite and Aged-Lite Planter Product Features:


  • Aged-lite Planters – 45% Resin/50% Stone Powder Mixture/5% Fiberglass
  • Fiberglass Planters – 50% Resin/40% Fiberglass/10% Stone
  • Stonelite Planters – 50% Stone/45% Resin/5% Fiberglass
  • Weather, impact, and UV resistant
  • Duplicates the look of stone at a fraction of the weight
  • Hand-applied finish for a beautiful, natural look
  • Drain plug for indoor use (removable for outdoor use)

Product Care:

  • Protect from freeze and thaw cycles
  • Planter should be stored inside during the winter
  • For best results, elevate the planter off the ground and make sure the drainage hole is not blocked
Williams Bay Planters are shipped to meet the customer needs. They offer:
  • Pallet displays. Simply remove the protective pieces and cardboard top and the planters are ready to go out the retail door.
  • Master pack carton protective materials are wrapped around each product to eliminate damage.
  • Each planter includes a weather resistant product card and UPC sticker
Order Now Using Program Number: W18F1

The Importance of Effective Purchasing

outlook_a01j_bannerPurchasing is a highly strategic role within any company and, when done properly, will have an enormous impact on the bottom line. Successful buyers must stay on top of the changing marketplace by reading trade journals, visiting online blogs and social media, communicating with their customers, going to industry trade shows, and by maintaining a good relationship with their reps.

To be effective, buyers must be knowledgeable on all aspects of the business they are buying for so they can ensure they have the right product, at the right price, and at the right time. To accurately achieve this goal they must know about inventory management, sales planning, forecasting, and open to buy planning.
Good buyers have the ability to assess which styles and merchandise will sell in their store by anticipating what their customer’s appetite will be the following retail season. Poor buying decisions could result in a loss of profits and customers for the company.
Buyers must consider style, price, quality, and availability when ordering merchandise; in addition, reliability and support from suppliers is also a key factor. Feeling confident about the reliability of your supplier is critical for buyers since the well-being of your store is in both your hands and theirs. Delayed delivery of inventory could result in a loss of business and customers. Planning ahead is essential to any successful buy.

The Arett June Market on June 18th in Somerset, NJ is the perfect opportunity to buy the right products, at the right price, at the right time. With the largest selection and best pricing on pottery and outdoor living, this is a “can’t miss” show. This one day event features over 65 booths – all with great buying deals.
For more information and to register, visit us online at

Separate Youself From The Masses With VPG

outlook_v60b_bannerAs spring is coming to an end across the Midwest and Northeast and summer is heating up, garden centers are looking for ways to separate themselves from the mass merchant world and sell products that they can claim as their own. VPG, the proud manufacturer of the ferti•lome and Hi-Yield brands, which are ONLY sold to independent garden centers, hardware’s and feed mills, has a few suggestions for you to separate yourselves from the masses.

Hi-Yield Turf and Ornamental is a great multi-use product. This product contains Dimension. Hi-Yield Turf and Ornamental is a superior pre-emergent product that can be used in landscapes and in turf as well. In landscapes, the 12 lb. bag of this item covers 2,500 square feet and has a residual of over 3 months. Another benefit is that you do not have to work this product in like Treflan. Just throw it down below or above your mulch and walk away. It’s perfect for that maintenance-free garden most people are asking for.
Please help educate your customers that Treflan and Dimension in landscape beds have to be reapplied to keep them weed free all summer long! In turf, for those customers and university extensions that prefer no fertilizer in the summer, Hi-Yield Turf and Ornamental is a great product that stops those summer weeds from germinating.
Hi-Yield Turf and Ornamental’s 12 lb. bag will cover 5,000 square feet in turf and work as a pre-emergent that will stop all grass types and broadleaf weeds before they germinate for up to 4 months. With an everyday dealer cost of $8.88 for the 12 lb. bag, it is a tremendous value for your dollars spent. Hi-Yield Turf and Ornamental is also available in a 4 lb. shaker and a 35 lb. bag, which covers 7,500 square feet in beds and 15,000 square feet in turf.
Looking for an easy-to-sell product that will kill insects, mites and fungus all at the same time? Then look no further than ferti•lome Triple Action. ferti•lome Triple Action is a very safe, easy-to-use multi-purpose product. Triple Action is a Neem Oil based product that has Pyrethrins added for a quick knockdown of any insect. This great product is labeled for all ornamental plants (indoors and outdoors) along with roses, fruit trees and veggies. Have a problem you can’t solve? ferti•lome Triple Action solves them all!
When you’re trying to make your mark in the lawn and garden world and create that loyal following, why not choose to partner up with a company that only sells and believes in the independent professionals in the industry? Choose superior products at better prices and margins! Choose ferti•lome and Hi-Yield products.
Order Now Using Program Number: V60F1

Gardening and Your Health: Plant Allergies

outlook_a01i_bannerAllergic reactions are caused by an overactive immune system response to a foreign substance such as pollen, dust, or molds. When this reaction affects the eyes or nose, it results in allergic rhinitis. Typical symptoms include sneezing, a runny nose, and itchy watery eyes. When an inflammation affects the bronchial tubes, it results in asthma. Typical symptoms include wheezing and shortness of breath.

The worst allergens are typically weeds, grasses, and certain trees. Because these plants are wind-pollinated, they produce a lot of powdery, easily inhaled pollen that can trigger allergic responses. Insect pollinated plants, such as flowers and vegetables, have pollen that is large and sticky, which generally does not cause as many problems. However, individuals who are repeatedly exposed to these plants may develop allergies.

The most typical allergenic plants include ragweeds, pigweeds, and all grasses. Large shade trees, such as oaks, elms, maples, pecans, mulberries, and cottonwoods, can also cause problems. Most individuals are allergic to only one or two trees. Because these trees pollinate a few weeks each year, allergic reactions can be avoided by staying indoors, wearing a protective mask, or taking medication during the weeks that they are pollinating. Some individuals may also be allergic to trees in the juniper, cypress, and sequoia families. These trees pollinate in the wintery months of January, February, and early March.
Besides trees and grasses, mold and fungi can also cause allergic reactions. They release spores into the atmosphere all year long in areas where there is abundant organic matter, moisture, and warmth. Leaf piles and compost areas can produce many molds and fungi. The results of working near a compost pile could be even more serious than asthma or allergic rhinitis, as some fungi can colonize in asthmatic bronchial tubes, leading to more serious conditions.
If you experience allergic reactions while working outdoors, consult with your local doctor or allergist to determine which plants are responsible and when they pollinate. You can then formulate your own personalized calendar indicating your best and worst times to be outdoors.
If you do go outside, there are several ways to minimize your exposure to pollen. These include wearing gloves, a long sleeved shirt, hat, and sunglasses or goggles. A pollen mask may also be necessary. After working outside, take a shower, thoroughly wash hair, and change clothes.

Weather conditions can affect the abundance of allergens in the air. Wind pollinated plants will not release pollen when it is raining, and instead are more dangerous on hot, windy days. Mold and fungi spores, on the other hand, are more abundant during wet weather. Save gardening for days when your allergen counts are low.
Individuals with allergies should avoid certain garden chores that aggravate their symptoms, such as working in the compost pile, working with mulch or straw, raking, using power blowers, or mowing lawns. Mowing grass can cause grass particles, pollen, and mold to become airborne.
Don’t plant trees, grasses, or shrubs that cause allergies. Choose plants that are insect-pollinated instead. Keep grass trimmed so it doesn’t flower. If allergies prevent you from mowing, it may be wise to invest in a yard care service or reduce your lawn area by adding flower beds or ground covers.
Eliminate weeds from the garden early, before they reach maturity and flower. Certain species of the compositae plant family, such as mums, marigolds, and dahlias, may be cross-reactive for individuals with ragweed sensitivity.
Your doctor or allergist may also recommend medications to help alleviate allergic reactions. For gardeners with hay fever, new antihistamines are available that can relieve symptoms without causing drowsiness, hyperactivity, dry mouth or eyes, or upset stomach. These non-sedative antihistamines come in many forms that are taken once or twice a day, in pill or liquid form. Eye drops can relieve itching, swelling, and irritation.
Nasal sprays come in both non-steroid and corticosteroid forms, and can effectively reduce allergic reactions. These treatments can ease pain after gardening, but are much more effective when taken as a precaution before gardening activities – and allergy symptoms – begin.
For gardeners with asthma, your doctor or allergist can recommend one of many different types of medications, in oral or inhaled form, to treat your condition.
Allergy shots or vaccinations can desensitize allergies. These treatments may be difficult and time consuming, but they allow an individual to build up a tolerance to allergens, which is helpful to not only treat the symptoms but also the allergy itself.
Before considering these treatments, consult with your doctor or allergist to discuss possible benefits and side effects.
Common Allergy Plants
Trees and shrubs:
  • ash (male)
  • cottonwood
  • elm
  • Juniper/cedar
  • maple (male)
  • mulberry
  • oaks
  • pecan and walnut
  • poplar (male)
  • privet (male)
  • Russian olive
  • willows (male)
Grasses, flowers and weeds:
  • Bermuda grass
  • Kentucky Bluegrass
  • orchard grass
  • Timothy grass
  • castor bean
  • ragweed
  • pigweed
  • lamb’s quarters
Prepared by Mary Predny
In cooperation with the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service, Virginia Tech and Virginia State University



Knowing the different benefits of each sprinkler type will help you help your customers choose the right sprinkler for their lawn.

Turret Sprinklers
Turret Sprinkler
Turret sprinklers are great for small or large yards. Nine different patterns, ranging from circle to half-circle to rectangle and more, allow you the flexibility to water only the area you need watered.
Impulse Sprinklers
Impulse Sprinkler With Circular, Stake, or Wheeled Base
The brass impulse sprinkler head has adjustable partial and full-circle patterns and waters an area of 70 ft. in diameter. Impulse sprinklers are designed to water closer to the ground, minimizing evaporation, and ensuring uniform watering.
Whirling Sprinklers
Whirling Sprinkler
Whirling sprinklers cover an area up to 38 ft. in diameter. Three spinning arms create a different look and feel than the typical sprinkler while providing thorough watering for your lawn.
Oscillating Sprinkler
Oscillating Sprinkler
Oscillating sprinklers are great for fast watering and covering medium to large areas. Oscillating sprinklers cover up to 3,000 sq. ft. and provide gentle watering in a rectangular pattern.
Spinning Sprinklers
Spinning Sprinkler
Spinning sprinklers create a very fine mist spray, requiring less water for thorough watering. Works with water pressure as low as 20 psi. Great for “well” systems! Covers a diameter of 38 ft.
Order Now Using Program Number: D40E6