Is It Safe to Use a Step Ladder in the Garden?

A step ladder next to an orange tree in the garden.

You may already be aware that a step ladder is a very versatile and popular tool for home DIY projects. Step ladders are excellent for plastering ceilings, cleaning windows, and changing light bulbs, but can you use a step ladder in your garden for outdoor DIY jobs and tasks?

Can I Use a Step Ladder in My Garden?

If you’re here for the short answer, there’s no reason why you can’t use a step ladder in your garden, but you must always ensure that you are following the best practices of using a step ladder. We’ll go into this a bit later!

There is a big difference between using a step ladder in your garden compared to inside your home. For instance, when using a garden outside, you need to be more aware of the weather and how this could affect your ladder’s stability.

Most importantly, however, the ground in your garden may be more uneven or unstable compared to the hard wood or carpet floors of your home.

Where to Put a Step Ladder in the Garden

If you’re planning on using a step ladder in your garden, you should firstly assess the area where you’d like to place the step ladder for the job you’ve chosen to carry out.

  • Is the ground even, stable and firm?
  • Do you have the space to reposition your ladder if the task requires it?
  • Are there any major hazards near you or the ladder such as water, sharp/large objects, cables, power lines, windows, or doors?
  • Do you have the adequate space to activate your step ladder’s locking mechanism?
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What Makes a Step Ladder Safe?

In the UK, the BS EN 131 standards ensure that all types or portable ladders are safe for use. These standards must be adhered to across the UK, so wherever you buy a step ladder from, you can rest assured that it has been manufactured to the highest quality and safety standards.

These standards have recently been updated in response to new slip tests, durability tests, and strength tests on different types of ladders. For instance, all ladders over 3m should now have a stabiliser bar by law!

A step ladder leaning against a red wall.

How to Inspect a Step Ladder for Safety

Before get started, it’s important to carry out a visual inspection of your step ladder before you get stuck into your task.

If you want to use a ladder safely in your garden, you should inspect for:

  • Damaged, worn, or unstable ladder feet
  • Twisted or bent ladder stiles
  • Cracked, loose or deteriorated ladder rungs
  • Cracked, damaged or loose joints and rivets

Can You Secure a Step Ladder for Extra Support?

If you’ve assessed your outdoor space and you believe it’s safe to use a step ladder in your garden, you may want to add an extra layer of support to your ladder, so you feel more secure.

You can do this by tying your ladder to a stable point using both stiles and a binding knot such as a square lashing knot, a sledge knot, a transom knot, or a shear lashing knot.

If this is not possible, you should securely wedge the ladder’s stiles against your wall for enhanced stability.

A plant hanging from a step ladder in the garden.

What Garden Jobs Can You Do With a Step Ladder?

So, once you have all of the safety best practices in mind, it’s time to get started on your garden project. Here are just a few ideas of what you can use a step ladder for in the garden…

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Clean Your Gutters

It’s recommended to clean your gutters twice a year – once in spring, and once in autumn. By the time spring rolls around, you may find that your gutters have accumulated leaves and sludge which needs to be cleared to ensure that your rainwater drains efficiently. A step ladder is a great tool for cleaning gutters if you have a single storey building.

Remember to always work on a step ladder with your body facing the job at hand. This is to ensure that you don’t lose your balance and topple over! Never overreach in any circumstance. Whilst it may be inconvenient, it is always safest to move and reposition your step ladder if need be instead of taking the risk (and the subsequent fall)!

Water Your Hanging Plant Baskets

If you love nature and all things colourful, you could use a step ladder to hang up hanging plant baskets around your garden.

It’s vital to maintain 3 points of contact with a step ladder at all times, but if you need to use two hands when hanging your plant basket, you can place both of your feet firmly on the same step and push your chest and knees against the rails of the ladder for a third point of contact.

A step ladder could also be used to help you water your hanging plant baskets, as step ladders can help you reach your required height quickly and effectively.

Paint Your Fences

Your outdoor space might need a bit of a spruce up this spring, so why not fix up and paint your garden fences? Step ladders are great for painting, especially if your step ladder has a large tray and a guardrail.

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As you can imagine, you’ll need a few pieces of equipment to paint a fence. When you use a step ladder with a large tray, you’ll have the ability to safely store your equipment. Similarly, with a guardrail, you’ll have that extra layer of security for your peace of mind.

We hope this has eased your mind and answered any questions about whether it’s safe to use a step ladder in the garden. Remember – always be cautious and aware when using a step ladder in any environment. Your safety comes first, always!

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