Gardening, for seniors, includes many health benefits. Beyond adding more homegrown, often organic foods to your diet, gardening includes Vitamin D exposure, fresh air, and general well-being associated with an active lifestyle.
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 tools to help us garden safely as we grow older?
Let’s take a look…
1) Invest in a Garden Wagon
Gardening often requires moving fertilizer, 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 is easier on the body.
- 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 and make gardening more enjoyable.
2) Build Raised Beds
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. They are plenty of design ideas as well, so you are limited only by your imagination.
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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 one who is struggling with back or knee pain, that’s hard to beat.
3) Put in a Garden Mailbox
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 within the bounds of your garden serves as a great place to keep handheld garden tools like trowels and weeders.
- Material:Premium grade magnetic pvc
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 too!
4) Install Seating
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 in the garden 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.
- Comfort for outdoor use
- Maximum seat weight: 500 lbs
Bonus – a garden bench can also be part of the gardens overall visual appeal.
5) Buy a Garden Kneeler Seat
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.
- Garden Kneeling Made Easy – Abcosport deep-seat garden kneeler and stool makes it convenient and comfortable for you to kneel down in your garden without hurting your knees or back. Great for weeding, seeding or planting, while helping to prevent staining your clothes from the dirt or grass. This ergonomic garden kneeler comes with a soft EVA foam padding to provide cushion to your knees and protection. Great gardening seat for seniors, whether you sit or kneel - it's the perfect yard tool.
- Strong Metallic Frame– The heavy-duty metallic frame is strong and durable and will support your hands and back when kneeling down and standing up. Simply hold the handles and lower or rise comfortably. This garden kneeler is strong enough to handle a 300lb weight limit and light enough to easily carry around - weighing only 6.7 pounds!
This can also serve as a great resource to have available if you end up falling in the garden and having a difficult time of getting back up onto your feet.
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.
- 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.
- 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
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 disabled 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 walk, turn around, and to safely walk beside baskets full of eggplant.
9) The Gardener’s Friend Pruners
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.
- Quality Garden Tools: Designed to help you cultivate a better garden, Fiskars garden and yard tools are equipped with smart technologies and award-winning, ergonomic features that make it easier and more enjoyable to transform your outdoor space.
- Maximum power and precision: All-steel blade stays sharp longer; Rust-resistant, low-friction coating helps glide through wood; Self-cleaning sap groove keeps blades from sticking; Non-slip grip handle and easy-open lock make control and storage easy
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, 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?
- 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.
- 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.
Gardening for Seniors Final Thoughts
Just because life has thrown you a few curve balls doesn’t mean that you still can’t do some of the things you enjoy. Gardening doesn’t necessarily have to be tossed to the curb. There are still ways to make it a safe, and pain-free activity even for those with physical limitations.
Hopefully, the above examples have demonstrated such, and may even have inspired you to take steps to get back out there raising your own homegrown tomatoes.
What are your thoughts on what we have to say here? Are there other tips or tools that you recommend we didn’t cover here? Let us know in the comments below!