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Tools & Tricks: Gardening with Arthritis

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Tools & Tricks: Gardening with Arthritis

August 9, 2022

Gardening is a peaceful and relaxing pastime. Or at least it should be. But sometimes it’s not—especially when it hurts. If you have arthritis or joint and movement health issues, gardening can leave you sore, achy, and not at all relaxed.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Before we get to the possible solutions, please realize everyone is different; check with your healthcare professional to help you find solutions that work best for you.

There are ways to limit the discomfort that comes from gardening with arthritis. Prioritize perennials over annuals (which require planting every year), take frequent breaks (you don’t have to do everything in one day)—and, last, make sure you have the right tools. Below, accessories you may want to consider if gardening has become more of a painful chore than a pleasurable pastime.

Featured photograph by Abby Meadow, from DIY: How to Save Seeds for Next Year.

1. Elevated Garden Beds

Above: The VegTrug Patio Garden is a Gardenista favorite. See 5 Favorites: Wooden Elevated Planters.

Is your back giving you issues? Bending down hard to do? Get raised beds. But not your normal raised beds. Raise them to 36” high—countertop height, or a custom height that works just for you. You can purchase kits or you can DIY it. Additionally, a sturdy table and containers can also fit the bill. Other options that don’t require a bent back: planter boxes on your deck railings or a repurposed wood pallet for hanging planters off the slats. No one ever said that gardening needed to be flat.

2. Ergonomic Tools

&#8\2\20;The handle design keeps your wrist in a natural position and prevents kickback—which can lead to fatigue or tendonitis,&#8\2\2\1; reads the copy for the Ergonomic Anvil Pruner by Castellari.
Above: “The handle design keeps your wrist in a natural position and prevents kickback—which can lead to fatigue or tendonitis,” reads the copy for the Ergonomic Anvil Pruner by Castellari.

A quick search lists many different ergonomic tools for gardening with arthritis. Most of these tools are designed to keep your joints in a neutral position and make it easier to grasp with larger handles and easier to squeeze with less grip strength. Whenever possible, visit a gardening center or nursery and try them in person. If you can only find them online, check the store’s return policy before buying in case they don’t work for you.

3. Gardening Cart

There are many much more affordable gardening carts, but this one by Atelier Tradewinds gets our vote for chicest. Read more about it at Garden Basics: World&#8\2\17;s Best Collapsible Wagon.
Above: There are many much more affordable gardening carts, but this one by Atelier Tradewinds gets our vote for chicest. Read more about it at Garden Basics: World’s Best Collapsible Wagon.

A cart with large wheels to master uneven surfaces can make it far easier to move heavy bags of soil and mulch around. Not a wheelbarrow that requires you to lift and push, but a sturdy utility cart you can pull. Remember to check the weight limits of the cart and don’t over do it yourself.

4. Kneeling Pad

This Garden Kneeler by Rural Kind features recycled foam covered with waxed cotton.
Above: This Garden Kneeler by Rural Kind features recycled foam covered with waxed cotton.

A cushy kneeling pad will save your knees when you need to kneel down in the soil. Some of them also come with handles that can help you push yourself up. Additionally, there are those you can flip over and become a place to sit and rest.

5. Long-Reach Tools

Gardeners&#8\2\17; Lifetime&#8\2\17;s Long-Handled Double Tool can be used to both loosen soil and weed beds without forcing your back into a bent positin.
Above: Gardeners’ Lifetime’s Long-Handled Double Tool can be used to both loosen soil and weed beds without forcing your back into a bent positin.

Tools with longer handles can be easier on your back as they allow the gardener to stand straight while gardening.

Gardening can be a wonderful way to relax and destress as well as provide exercise and sunshine. Don’t let arthritis stop you from gardening. By working with your healthcare provider about making modifications to your routine and by choosing the proper tools, you can continue to enjoy gardening.

For more on gardening tools, see:

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