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Getting ready when you have sight loss

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. To ensure you get ready properly:

Top tips for getting ready

  • Walking round at different times
    If you are just starting to garden with sight loss, you might find it useful to get to know you garden better by walking around it at different times of day until you are familiar with it.
  • Always manage your part of the garden yourself. If you need some help, ask for it for that job, then carry on working alone. This way, you’ll become a much more confident gardener.
  • Visually impaired people can sometimes find it difficult to find their way back to where they were in the garden. One idea is to use an RNIB sound beacon, or take a small radio with you and leave it on while you are working.
  • A washing line can also provide a point of reference in the garden and you can use it as a guide to help you know where you are.
  • Think about the job you’re going to do and plan what will make it easier for you. It might be as simple as making sure you have a kneeler with you to save your knees, or a stool or seat to work from or take rests.
  • 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

  • Take rests when gardening
    Take 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 a sunny area first.
  • 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.
  • 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

  • Bright coloured tools
    If you have some vision, you’ll find your tools easier to spot if they have bright handles. Or you can paint the handles white.
  • Most visually impaired gardeners like to work close to the soil and often use short handled tools. There is now a whole range of ‘multi-change’ tools with snap on interchangeable heads. Chose a handle length that’s right for you - 30cm (12 inch) is popular.
  • 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 in your hands and arms.
  • If you have a weak grip, hand tools will be easier to hold if you slide some plumber’s insulating tubing over the handle, or there are specialist ranges with wide spongy grips.
  • Find the best way for you to carry your tools. You could use a garden cart, wheelbarrow or bucket. 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.
  • Hand tools can be carried in a tool belt, apron or bag – whatever you find easy. Secateurs can be safely carried in a holster.

Lightweight gardening gloves  

Lightweight gardening gloves

Thin and light to wear these gloves are tough and will protect your hands but leave you with the dexterity to weed, sow seeds, pot on or plant out.

Find out more about Lightweight gardening gloves

Gardena combi-system  

Gardena combi-system

This is a well made set of interchangeable tool heads and handles. The securing system means they can be changed using one hand.

Find out more about Gardena combi-system

Kneeler stool  

Kneeler stool

The convenient height, wide footprint, padded mat and large grab handles make this stool very useful for sitting on or kneeling.

Find out more about kneeler stool