If confession is good for the soul, here is an opportunity to share your secret (or not so secret) dumb or dangerous mistakes in gardening. Sharing may help heal the hidden wounds to your pride and ego (and may even alleviate the pain of physical injuries), while also helping other gardeners avoid dangerous pitfalls in the "do-it-myself" urge to personally handle all garden chores.
Here are some of my dumberest adventures in gardening:
During the spate of hurricanes in 2004 in Florida, I became concerned about a massive oak tree with dead limbs directly above the roof of my house. Thinking I could save money by not hiring a professional tree surgeon and doing the job myself, I bought a monster 32" chain saw on eBay and rented 25 ft of scaffolding from a nearby rental center so that I could trim the tree.
It was rough going from the start, much harder work being a lumberjack than I had anticipated. The worst came when a large tree limb I had roped in the middle and cut off at the trunk swung directly down toward me and hit the scaffolding. My instinct was to step back away from the falling limb. In doing so, I stepped off the edge of the scaffold and descended 25 ft to the ground, elevator style, only without the elevator. Fortunately, I sustained only a sprained ankle, which remains more swollen than the other ankle even after a year. I could have easily been killed. One of the real dangers is that the chain saw continued to run at the top of the scaffolding, but fortunately it didn't fall on top of me. Though barely able to stand up, I had to climb back to the top of the scaffold to shut down the chain saw. Of course, I was home alone during all this debacle, so if I had required emergency treatment I would have been up the proverbial crick.
But I wasn't yet ready to concede defeat. After a day or two of rest, I cautiously climbed back up the scaffold and tried taking out some more limbs. This time a very large limb came down suddenly and wedged between the rungs of the scaffolding. I had to take the scaffold apart with great effort and saw the limb in short segments to release it from the scaffolding. I threw in the towel at this point and hired a professional for $600.
My own "do-it-myself" tree trimming attempt to save money ended up costing me late fees on the return of the scaffold, plus damage costs to replace the scaffold sections bent by the falling tree limb, plus basically wasting the $400 I spent on the massive chain saw becuase it has been in and out of the repair shop constantly and currently isn't running due to a broken cog in the chain drive, plus the $600 I ended up spending for the tree surgeon to come and finish the job. It turned out to be more expensive than if I had just hired someone to come in the first place and I could have been spared the pain and the "near-death" experience.
Another time, I was standing on the ground pulling jungle growth size smilax vines out of the top of a tree. I pulled so hard that an end of a tree limb snapped off and came down like a pointed javelin directly toward my face. It hit my forehead and missed my right eye by only about 1/2 inch. I did seek medical attention for that incident because the pointed tree limb made a deep puncture wound above my eyebrow and I didn't think I had done a good enough job of washing out all the debris that was caught in the wound. Fortunately again, there was no resulting infection nor other permanent damage, but it made me aware of the need for safety goggles, hard hats, and lots of other safety equipment I tend to never wear for jobs like that.
What are some of your "errors in judgement" where passion to get the job done fast, save money, or a larger-than-life ego caused you to pursue some less than safe activity in the garden? Your stories need not be either of the extremes of hilarious or tragic. We can all learn from each other's simple mistakes.