Home Healthy Aging Gardening for Seniors – 10 Tools to Make it Easy

Gardening for Seniors – 10 Tools to Make it Easy

by Zac Martin

As we gracefully age, the joy of tending to a garden doesn’t have to wane; in fact, it can become an even more cherished and therapeutic activity. Gardening offers not just the pleasure of nurturing plants but also provides a sense of purpose and connection to nature.

Additionally, gardening for seniors includes many health benefits. Beyond adding more homegrown, often organic foods to your diet, gardening includes Vitamin D exposure, mental stimulation, light exercise to moderately intense exercise, fresh air, a boost to the immune system, an opportunity to learn new skills, and general well-being associated with an active lifestyle.

For older adults who may face physical challenges, selecting the right tools can make all the difference in transforming their gardening experience.

gardening for seniors feature image of a disabled man using gardening tools in raised garden beds

In this article, we’ll explore ten essential tools designed to ease the process, ensuring that gardening remains a delightful and accessible pastime for seniors. From ergonomic designs to user-friendly features, these tools are crafted to make each gardening session a source of relaxation and fulfillment, along with a great way to alleviate stress.

The Importance of Good Health

By 2040 an estimated 26% of the US population is predicted to have arthritis of some form. For many though, they don’t have to wait till 2040 to experience such symptoms. They’re already experiencing them now!

As of 2018, 28% of men and 31.6% of women had experienced back pain within the prior three months of the study. Knee, hip, and wrist pain are also common in older populations.

So, what can you do to make gardening easier given these limitations? Are there gardening tips or tools to help us garden safely as we grow older? Of course!

Let’s take a look at our top ten suggestions.

1) Invest in a Garden Wagon

garden carts being used to carry nutritous produce through an outdoor space of a community garden

Gardening often requires moving fertilizer (one of our favorites being this one from Highlands Garden Supply), mulch, straw, dirt, and produce. Attempting to do this all by carrying everything yourself can quickly grow to be too much. Attempting to do such with a wheelbarrow forces the user to have to bear the brunt of much of the weight, lifting and pushing. Pulling the weight via a garden wagon is overall much easier on the body.

Best Choice Products Utility Garden Cart Wagon for Lawn, Yard w/Heavy-Duty Steel 400lb Weight Capacity, Removable Sides, Long Handle, 10in Tires - Green
  • CONVERTS INTO A FLATBED: Remove the foldable sides with quick-release hinges to create a flatbed, perfect for moving heavier objects
  • HEAVY-DUTY: Sturdy, corrosion-resistant frame and tough, rubber wheels can go on various terrains like dirt and grass while comfortable handle lets you easily steer the cart

A garden wagon serves as a fantastic means to efficiently move heavy and large loads with minimal effort. Pulling a wagon to fill up with tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, and watermelon is much easier than attempting to move all that with 5-gallon buckets.

As such, a garden wagon is a good investment for the gardener attempting to work around physical limitations who strives to make gardening more enjoyable.

2) Build Raised Beds

plants growing in a raised garden bed which provide numerous health benefits and a great boost to the immune system

This is one of the first tactics that should be considered when it comes to creating a working garden for the individual with physical limitations. Raised beds better ensure that one doesn’t have to get so close to the ground – if even on the ground at all.

Built at the right height, they reduce the need to bend over, get on your knees, etc. Planting, weeding, watering, it’s all made easier with raised beds. There are plenty of design ideas as well, so you are limited only by your imagination.

Jumbl Raised Canadian Cedar Garden Bed | Elevated Wood Planter for Growing Fresh Herbs, Vegetables, Flowers, Succulents | 34x18x30”
  • GROW A GORGEOUS HERB GARDEN | Elevated Outdoor Planter Offers Beautiful, Practical Design for Growing Your Favorite Herbs, Veggies, Fruits, Flowers & Other Vegetation Above Ground | A Stunning Accompaniment to Any Small Space!
  • 100% RED CEDAR | Reap a Bountiful Crop Season After Season! | High-Grade Cedar Wood Resists Weather-Related Damage, Won’t Warp, Shrink or Swell in High Humidity & Features Unique Red Coloring

Perhaps one of the easiest ways build one is to plant your garden vegetables within straw bales. The best primer on how to do such that I’ve found is Joel Karsten’s Straw Bale Gardens. This type of garden involves zero construction, decomposes into compost that can be used for other garden projects, and allows one to grow all of their flowers and vegetables at waist to face level.

For someone who is struggling with back or knee pain, that’s hard to beat.

3) Put in a Garden Mailbox

a brightly colored, painted mailbox in a garden - a great way for a gardening group to stay connected!

Lugging garden tools from a shed or basement to the garden every day is just another heavy task that doesn’t necessarily need to be done. It causes you to have to make extra trips, spend extra energy, and can cause aggravation if you have joint injuries.

One of the best ways to eliminate this is to put in a garden mailbox. A simple metal mailbox installed on a treated 4×4 post within the bounds of your garden serves as a great place to keep handheld garden tools like trowels and weeders. These can also be extremely useful in community gardens when everyone is sharing resources.

WOOR Spring Flowers Daffodils and Tulips Magnetic Mailbox Cover Oversized-20.8"x 25.5"
  • Material:Premium grade magnetic pvc
  • Features:Reusable,waterproof,fade-resistant,all-weather,durable

It’s convenient, keeps your tools dry, and makes it so that you don’t have to do as much work. They serve as a great place to drop love letters to your gardener spouse or gardening friends too!

4) Install Seating

a wooden bench in community gardens offering a perfect place for outdoor stress relief

A chair in a garden is a wonderful thing. It allows one to sit back and enjoy what they have created as they soak up some vitamin D and rest weary bones. For those with joint pain, this can serve as a great means of mitigation.

With ready access to a bench, one can work for ten minutes, spend a bit of time resting so that pain subsides, and then go back to work. This eliminates the need to trek all the way back to the house once an angry back begins to act up, and the end result may very well be more time spent gardening.

Outsunny Outdoor Glider Bench, Glider Bench for Outside Patio with Armrests, Slatted Seat & Backrest, Loveseat with Power Coated Steel Frame, Black
  • Double-Seat Glider: The strong gliding mechanism ensures secure, smooth, cozy gliding. Spend leisure time in the open air, sitting with a friend or family member.
  • Great for All Sorts of Places: Our weather-resistant patio glider bench is great for the garden, porch, or front yard. Wherever it's placed, it provides superior comfort.

Bonus – a garden bench can also be part of the gardens overall visual appeal.

5) Buy a Garden Kneeler Seat

garden seats for easier gardening feature image of a woman working in a garden using a garden chair

This is easily one of the greatest products available for the gardener with joint pain. It gives one the ability to sit as they prune, and if one is working closer to the ground, it serves as a fantastic knee-saver as well.

Should you end up needing help getting up from a kneeling position, the garden kneeler seat has handles that allow you to push against something sturdy as you bring yourself back up to a standing position.

Abco Tech Garden Stool & Kneeler - Kneeler & Stool for Gardening, Foldable Garden Seat for Storage, Garden Kneelers for Seniors, Great Gardening Gifts for Women, Bench Comes with Tool Pouch & Gloves
  • GARDEN KNEELING BENCH WITH HANDLES - This garden kneeler and seat comes with soft EVA foam padding for cushion and protection to your knees, providing you convenience and comfort when you kneel down in your garden without hurting your knees or back and two handles to help you stand with ease.
  • MULTIFUNCTIONAL GARDENING KNEELER AND SEAT - This gardening bench kneeler and seat can be flipped over to convert it into a comfortable seat that can help you sit and relax when tired from gardening activities. Great gardening gifts for gardeners for holidays and special occasions!

This can also serve as a great resource to have available if you end up falling in the garden and have a difficult time getting back up onto your feet. Check out our previously posted article full of great garden seat options perfectly suited for the older adult gardener.

6) Consider a Mobile Seat

If your garden is designed with long rows, you may want to consider investing in a mobile seat. Essentially a chair on wheels, this allows you to have ready access to a chair as you work your way down a long line of tomatoes.

Best Choice Products 4-Wheel Garden Cart Mobile Rolling Work Seat w/Tool Tray, Storage Basket, Rubber Tires - Green
  • VERSATILE USAGE: Make this multipurpose mobile cart a go-to for a variety of home projects; perfect for carrying out tasks in your garden or yard, as well as painting and more!
  • HEIGHT-ADJUSTABLE SWIVEL DESIGN: Designed with an adjustable swivel seat that prevents the need to crouch down or bend over while gardening, so you get relief for that aching back or knees

Not only does this help to eliminate unnecessary and repeated stooping, but it’ll keep you from having to get down on the ground yet again to reach the blackberries on the lower canes. While this may not work in smaller gardens, this could easily be considered essential for larger plots. 

7) Buy a Scuffle Hoe

The best type of weeding is that which doesn’t require you to get down on your hands and knees. I’ve found scuffle hoes to work great for such. They allow one to easily and neatly tear up weeds while standing in an upright position and without risk of damaging nearby garden plants as well.

Xtreme Weeder (Scuffle Hoe Cultivator, 54" Fiberglass Handle with Grips)
  • V-Blade cuts through weeds better than the competition
  • Open design works in soil, gravel, bark and other loose material

While the flat-bladed designs most certainly work great, for one struggling with physical limitations, a pointed design may prove to be more efficient and easier on the joints. For this, I recommend the Skidger Xtreme Scuffle. It’s pointed tip means it will easily stick into the ground, making for an easier time of tearing up weeds.

8) Make Wider Pathways

an example of one of our gardening tips- wider pathways to improve access for older adults

A wider pathway may not be a garden tool per se, but it can be an important aspect of gardening for seniors.

Loss of balance is generally associated with the aging process, and as a result, one should make their garden as easy to walk in as possible. If walking through your garden is something akin to being the tightrope walker at a Barnum and Bailey’s event, then your garden is not friendly towards the aging gardener.

If the garden you’re building is for somebody with a wheelchair, you’re going to want to make the pathways at least three feet wide. If not, you can get by with less space for a pathway, but you still want to ensure that you have adequate room to move, turn around, and to safely walk beside baskets full of eggplant.

9) The Gardener’s Friend Pruners

an older woman employing one of our gardening tips to use lightweight tools such as easy to hold pruners while gardening outdoors

To the best of my knowledge, these are one of the easiest to use set of pruners out there. If you struggle with arthritis in your hands, causing a lack of grip strength, you know that using a traditional pair of pruners can be virtually impossible.

Fiskars Bypass Pruning Shears 5/8” Garden Clippers - Plant Cutting Scissors with Sharp Precision-Ground Steel Blade
  • GARDENING ESSENTIAL: Steel blade plant shears ideal for a variety of pruning tasks like cutting flower stems, maintaining your herb garden, and more to encourage overall plant health and appearance
  • MAXIMUM POWER AND PRECISION: Low-friction blade coating makes smooth cuts, reduces gumming, and enhances rust resistance; Self-cleaning sap groove keeps blades from sticking and non-slip grip handle and easy-open lock allows for more control of clippers

That’s where these guys come in. They give you a mechanical advantage for the same movement, making pruning your rose bushes that much easier. I highly recommend them for anybody who is struggling with arthritis.

10) Use Ergonomic Tools

Easy to grip and use garden tools are essential for the gardener with joint pain. You have to be able to dig, weed, plant seeds, and till if you’re going to use a garden, so why not have the tools that make doing so as pain-free and enjoyable as possible?

Radius Garden 100 Aluminium Hand Trowel - Rust-Proof – Latex-Free– Comfortable Grip- Lightweight- for Planting, Weeding and Digging, Original Green
  • Award-winning ergonomic garden trowel with unique, patented blade for optimal performance in all soil conditions
  • Ultra-lightweight, die-cast aluminum blade is stronger than steel and will never rust

Two tools that may help you in doing so include ergonomic trowels, such as the design that Radius Garden offers, and the Bear Paws Cultivator Claw. They make their designated tasks easier, meaning that you’re much more likely to engage in those tasks.

Bear Paws Cultivator Claw - Ergonomic Gardening Tools - Hand Held Garden Tool - Hand Rake - Strong Nylon Weeder - Manual Weeding, Aerating, Cultivating…
  • SHARP - Great for breaking up soil, weeding and removing unwanted debris in your flower beds or vegetable garden
  • DURABLE - Traditional metal hand tools are replaced with our tough and ultra strong nylon. For a durable gardening tool, you cant beat the Cultivator Claw garden tool

The end result?

A well-cared for and organized garden.

Another Option: An Indoor Garden

Embracing the therapeutic embrace of an indoor garden, rather than outdoor, can prove to be a transformative and health-enhancing endeavor, especially for older adults. Beyond the aesthetic appeal of lush greenery, indoor gardening offers a range of physical, mental, and emotional benefits that can bring satisfaction year round, as an indoor garden isn’t dependent in the way an outdoor garden often is.

an example of indoor vertical gardening - a gerat way to relieve physical stress indoors with potted plants

The act of caring for plants can provide some light exercise while also improving dexterity and motor skills, contributing to enhanced mobility. Moreover, the presence of indoor plants has been linked to improved air quality, offering respiratory benefits that are particularly valuable for older individuals.

Beyond the physical advantages, cultivating an indoor garden can also combat feelings of isolation, providing a daily connection to nature and a source of relaxation.

Gardening for Seniors Final Thoughts

Embracing the joys of gardening as you age is not only possible but made even more delightful with the right tools. The ten carefully curated tools discussed in this article are not just instruments for cultivating a garden; they are gateways to a world of wellness, fulfillment, and connection to nature. By prioritizing ergonomics, ease of use, and accessibility, these tools empower older adults to continue indulging in the therapeutic benefits of gardening.

As we witness the aging process, it’s crucial to recognize that with the appropriate tools, gardening becomes a sustainable and enriching activity, contributing to overall physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

a person in a wheelchair watering potted plants indoors

What are your thoughts on our list of helpful items to have at the ready as you dive into your gardening hobby? Are there other tips or tools you recommend that we didn’t cover here?

Let us know in the comments below!

About the Authors

Zac Martin is an exercise physiologist who has spent years helping older clients work through various physical and health conditions. He is familiar with the physical issues older adults face as they age and enjoys working on and writing about strength training, successful recovery techniques, and healthy aging.

Leona Small is a freelance writer and former caregiver. She has experience working with people with Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias and has spent years working alongside both patients and caregivers in Hospice. Additionally, she’s worked as a Professional Organizer helping people and families to purge, organize, manage, and prepare for various life transitions such as moving, downsizing, and the passing of loved ones. Her passions include writing about healthy aging, innovative resources to help older adults and caregivers, and traveling.




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