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Wednesday May 29, 2024

Savvy Living

Savvy Senior

Ways to Make Gardening Easier

What tips can you offer to make gardening easier on the body? I love to putter around and work in the garden, but my back and knees have caused me to curtail my gardening activities.

There is no doubt that gardening can be hard on a body. Joints stiffen up, prolonged kneeling causes discomfort and bending and reaching can strain muscles. But that does not mean you have to give up your hobby. You may need to garden differently by adding some specialized tools and knowing your limits. Here are some tips that may help.

Limber Up

With gardening, good form is very important as well as not overdoing any one activity. A common problem is that gardeners often kneel or squat which puts extra pressure on their knees. To provide relief from these positions, gardeners will then stand and bend over for long stretches to weed, dig and plant. This prolonged standing and bending places strain on the back and spine.

To help protect your body, you should warm up before beginning. Start by stretching, concentrating on the legs and lower back. Once you start gardening, it helps to frequently change positions and activities. For instance, do not spend hours weeding a flowerbed. After 15 minutes of weeding, stand up, stretch and switch to another activity like pruning the bushes. You should also take rest breaks.

It is also important that you recognize any physical limitations and do not try to do too much at once. When lifting heavier objects, remember to use your legs to protect your back. You can do this by keeping the item close to your body and keeping your back as vertical as possible when squatting.

Get Better Tools

The proper gardening equipment can also help. Kneeling pads can protect knees while garden seats can limit back and knee pain. Lightweight garden carts and collapsible wheelbarrows make hauling mulch, dirt, plants or other heavy objects much easier. Long-handled gardening and weeding tools ease back strain by keeping you in a standing upright position versus bent over.

There are also ergonomic gardening and pruning tools with larger handles and other design features that can make lawn and garden activities less painful. Your local garden store or online retailer may sell a variety of specialty lawn and garden tools that will ease the stress on your body.

Make Watering Easier

The chore of carrying water or handling a heavy, awkward hose can also be difficult for some gardeners. Watering alternatives include lightweight fabric or expandable hoses, soaker or drip hoses that can be snaked throughout the garden, thin coil hoses that can be used on the patio or small areas, a hose caddy and reel for easier hose transport around the yard or a self-winding hose. There are also a variety of ergonomic watering wands that are lightweight and easy to grip to reach those hard to-get-to plants.

Bring the Garden to You

If your backyard garden has become too much to handle, you should consider elevated garden beds or container gardening with big pots, window boxes, hanging baskets, barrels or tub planters. This is a much easier way to garden because it eliminates much of the bend and strain of gardening but still provides the pleasure of watching things grow.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.


Published May 24, 2024
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