If you’ve aching joints and tired limbs, getting out into the garden can be bit of a challenge, but there are ways to make life a bit easier, says Jean Vernon.
If you love gardening and have a large garden, I’ll hazard a guess that nobody told you by the time you’ve got the time and probably the money to do your garden proud, you are more than likely less able to do so due to all the issues that come with a little age.
I’ve suffered with dodgy knees since a teenager and can only kneel on one knee, so for ages I would garden, half crouched down. To be honest that was a bit daft as twisting my body round on one knee didn’t do my back any good. But now I know better so, these days when I need to get down and dirty in the borders, a good kneeling mat is essential. While I can see the sense in wearing kneeling pads like the fab Burgon & Ball Kneelo Garden Knee Pads, to be honest I prefer to drag my Garden Kneelo mat around with me so I can drop it where I want to work. It’s great and means I can get to ground level and work in the borders when I need to and kneel in relative comfort, though my knee is still a bit tender. But a good kneeling mat lets me get to the same level as the plants and makes it easier to weed and plant direct into the border soil.
Raise the bar
By moving the plants up a bit higher, into large planters and raised beds you don’t have to get down so low. My raised beds are made from huge railway sleepers and I can actually sit on the edge of them and garden it’s not so easy when I need to get into the middle of the bed, tough that is rarely, because I have to climb up and into it. But you can use raised manger type troughs like the VegTrug (https://www.vegtrug.com/)
You can instead use long handled tools to reach into the borders for weeding and planting, but I do find that in fact you still need to bend down to pick up the weeds or do the planting, so for me the Kneelo scenario is a win win. But we are all different and you do what suits you best.
If your grip is weak and you are struggling to hold onto your hand tools, have a look at the Gripeeze Glove. It was designed by a bricklayer who suffered an injury and then couldn’t do his job beasue he couldn’t hold the tools of his trade. He made a makeshift glove and strapped his tools to his hand and the idea for the GripEzee glove was born. It’s been finely fettled now and is popular for golfers and gardeners, and also stroke victims who can use the neat design to help hold hand tools securely. http://gripeeze.com/
If you’re in need of some assistance pruning then consider ratchet secateurs that cut through stems in stages. Ideal for thicker stems or aching wrists, or opt for the rotating handle now available on some bypass models that move with your cutting action reducing the strain by about 30%.
The Peta Easi-Grip Garden Tools have soft plastic pistol grip handles fitted with a non-slip grip keeping the wrist in a neutral stress free position. Ideal for gardeners with reduced grip strength and or reduced wrist flexibility. Alternatively you can transform existing tools using the Peta Add On handles that strap to the handles. www.peta-uk.com.
Of course you could employ a gardener to help you with your gardening chores, or why not train a youngster and help them learn a few basic skills. You could even offer them a patch of your garden to get them started or share a veg patch so that you can both have fresh seasonal produce and you pass on some of your gardening knowledge, you never know it could be the start of a great friendship.
For more advice and assistance the charity Thrive works to help people living with a disability or mental ill health to transform their lives through gardening. www.thrive.org.uk