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Planting out when you have sight loss

Planting out is a job most of us take on some time in the year. Most plants grown in pots can be planted year-round, but if you plant out in dry weather, make sure you water regularly to avoid drying out. As well as information to help you plant out, this section has some top tips for labelling your plants

Top tips to make planting out easier

  • Planting out will be easier if your garden beds are narrow enough to be reached without stepping on the soil. Also, if you want to plant vegetables in neat rows, consider opting for 1-metre square beds - these will give you an edge to dig inside and also make planting easier.
  • A right angle guide will help you plan your planting. Studs on the guide mark 10, 20 and 30cm from the end of the plot and you can fix a garden line across the plot at one of these spacings. Use a line with elasticated ends – it will be more flexible and will spring back to a straight position if you accidentally move it. Also, if you put knots in the garden line every 7.5cm (3 inches) it will help you measure the correct spacing between plants. Find out more about how to make your own right-angle guide
  • If you are planting a circular area, perhaps with flowers or herbs, you could use a hoola hoop placed on the soil and pegged down as a guide.
  • Making a planting hole for smaller plants might be easier if you use a bulb planter. You push the bulb planter into the soil, squeeze the handle and it removes the soil to leave a neat hole.
  • If you are planting a new bed you can avoid mistakes if you lay out your plants in their pots in the space first. Don’t forget to allow enough space for the plants to grow to their final size.
  • Planting in a hoop
    Prepare the planting hole to the right depth by placing the pot in the hole and checking the soil will come up to the same height on the plant as the soil in the pot. Water each plant as you go using a plastic cup filled from a bucket of water.
  • Prepare the soil well before planting. Consider laying down a weed-suppressing membrane first. Cut crosses in the membrane for each plant and after planting, lay gravel, bark or other mulch to cover the membrane. A mulch laid directly on the soil will also cut down weeds and help to save moisture.
  • Don’t forget that containers are a valuable alternative to planting in beds. Vegetables, flowers and herbs can be easily grown in containers, for example – a hanging basket can hold a surprising yield of delicious cherry tomatoes.

Taking care

  • Planting involves digging, bending and lifting and so can put a strain on the back and arms.
  • Take everything you need with you – watering can, trowel, dibber, kneeler labels and so on, to avoid trips backwards and forwards.
  • Take care when lifting and carrying pots - a lightweight barrow that you can pull with one hand might be a solution, or use a trolley.

Labelling plants

Blind and partially sighted gardeners often ask Slob for suggestions on labelling their plants. Here are a few top tips to help.

  • Labelling plants
    For gardeners with some vision, large print labels produced on a computer and laminated, are an option. Or you could use permanent marker on bright waterproof luggage labels.
  • Always put your labels in a consistent place, such as in front of each plant. It can also help to make a recorded message of what you have planted where. Try using a bright pen or stick placed infront or placed in the soil to simply mark the position of a treasured plant.
  • There are two companies that produce large-faced rectangular black labels labels set on a spike – Wells & Winter and The Essentials Company . You can write on these with a white paint marker
  • Electronic labellers such as Casio and Dymo can print out fairly big lettering for large labels.
  • Shaped and coloured indicating buttons from RNIB are useful for attaching to pots or plants. You could keep a record of which shape and colour button relates to which type of plant.
  • You can use self-adhesive Braille stuck to sturdy labels or to the sticks for seed trays. Plastic labels are available from RNIB for use with a Brailler.

Equipment and tools

  • When working close to the soil, wear gardening gloves to protect your hands. Knee pads with straps to go round your legs are a good way to protect your knees.
  • Use a hand trowel, a bulb planter or a dibber to make planting easier. For smaller plants, a bulb planter might be easier to use as it extracts the soil from the hole so you can drop the plant in.
  • If you have some sight, tools with bright coloured handles will be easier to find or try putting bright coloured tape around the handle.

Bulb planter  

Bulb planter

Simply push the tapered body of this tool into the soil and squeeze the handle to remove a plug of soil. Suitable for planting bulbs and small plants.

Find out more about bulb planter

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

Peta Easi-Grip hand tools  

Peta Easi-Grip hand tools

These stainless steel tools have a soft grip upright style handle which helps keep your wrist and in a neutral position and helps reduce strain

Find out more about Peta Easy-Grip hand tools

Small can with control valve  

Small can with control valve

A button at the top of the handle allows you to control the flow of water from this small and well-balanced watering can.

Find out more about small can with control valve