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Getting ready when you can't bend easily

Taking a bit of time to get ready can really make a difference. Some of the stresses and strains of gardening happen when we begin a job on impulse, without any planning.

Top tips for getting ready

  • High raised bed
    When you have difficulty bending, working in short bursts and changing position frequently will cause less strain.
  • Try and avoid over reaching by making sure that you are working at a comfortable height. Raised beds, where the soil is at waist height, and containers at different heights are options to consider. Find out more about raised beds
  • Make your beds narrow, so that you can reach without straining.
  • Think about the job you’re going to do and plan what will make it easier for you. You may need hand tools for use at high raised beds or tools with longer handles for working at lower beds.
  • If you can, take a chair with you into the garden and vary your gardening position between sitting and standing. Choose a seat to work from that is comfortable to use, and stable. Some garden kneelers can be used as a seat when turned upside down but make sure you place it on even ground.
  • When sitting at a table, place the items you need in easy reach and avoid over stretching. Make sure that the table is at the right height for you to work comfortably sitting down - a table with a shaped recess can be more comfortable to work from.
  • Get all the tools you’ll need together to save trips back and forth to the shed or garage. Try and keep your storage area tidy and you’ll be able to find your tools more easily.

Taking care

  • Sitting on a raised bed
    Make time to 'warm up' first with some simple bending and stretching exercises to loosen up your muscles and you will be less likely to strain yourself. On very cold days, it might be worth waiting until the air warms up before you begin or start work in areas of the garden that are sunny.
  • Stick to one job at a time, and have breaks - with a warm or cold drink according to the weather. Stop work before you get too tired.
  • Hand rails and resting places can ease the strain of moving around the garden. Also, make sure that your paths are even and have a non-slip surface.
  • You might find it easier to move your equipment around the garden in relay fashion, taking your chair out first, then your tools.
  • If you find it difficult to carry things, you might need to base your activities near the house or the place you keep your gardening equipment.

Equipment and tools

  • Long handled dustpan and brush
    Make sure you choose the right tools for the job. Try out tools before you buy them and check for weight and comfort. Choose well balanced and lightweight tools to help prevent stresses and strains.
  • Picking small things up from ground level can be easier using a litter picker. A grabber rake is useful for lifting larger amounts of debris. A long handled dustpan and brush is another option.
  • To avoid over-reaching, choose tools with longer handles. Multi-change tools give you a choice of handle lengths for working at different heights and you simple change the tool head for different jobs.
  • Find the best way for you to carry your tools. You could use a garden cart, wheelbarrow, tool carrier, bucket, or a tray or basket attachment if you use a wheelchair.
  • A garden cart with an aluminium frame allows you to carry long tools and hand tools with smaller items in its tray. It also holds a refuse sack. If you have balance problems, this could give you some support as you walk.
  • You may find a twin wheeled barrow with bar style handle easier to manage than a conventional barrow.