Find out about Thrive
Thrive logo

Digging sitting down and from a wheelchair

Digging is when you turn over the soil to a spade’s depth or more. Digging helps break up the soil, to aerate it (get air into the soil), and it can help to loosen weeds.


Top tips to make digging easier

  •    Using a long reach trowel
    You can dig beds at ground level when sitting down by using a long handled trowel or cultivating tool to turn over the soil.  Make sure that the tool is lightweight and that the handle is the right length to allow you to reach the soil. Digging at ground level will be easier if your beds are accessible from all sides.
  • If you have beds at ground level, keep them narrow so you don’t have to put your seat on the soil to reach. Also, consider opting for 1-metre square beds - these will give an edge to dig inside and also make planting easier.
  • When you garden sitting down, it will help if you can adapt your garden to avoid having to dig at ground level and to keep the amount of digging needed to a minimum. Here are some ideas to help:
     
    •     Sitting on a low raised bed
      Narrow ‘no-dig’ beds. Simply cover the bed with a thick mulch such as newspapers, and then with a thick top layer of manure or compost.  Worms and micro-organisms will help break the soil down and the mulch will help stop weeds growing.
    • Lay down a weed-suppressing membrane in permanent beds and plant through slits cut in the material.  Cover the membrane with a mulch such as bark or gravel.
  • If your garden soil is heavy and clay based, any digging is best done in the autumn. This is because by the spring, the soil will have dried out and be very hard, which will make digging extremely difficult and physically demanding. Also, if you dig it over in the autumn and then leave the surface uneven over the winter, any frosty weather will help break up the soil even more. However, if you have lighter soil you should dig in the spring as the ground will be warmer and much easier to work.
  • Consider using raised beds and containers. These bring the soil off the ground, reduce the need for digging and make any digging that you have to do much easier. Find out more about raised beds


Taking care

  •    Digging from a wheelchair
    Digging can put a strain on your back, shoulders and arms. Always ‘warm up’ with a few gentle stretches before digging, keep your back straight and only work for short periods, to avoid strain.
  • When sitting down to dig, make sure your seat is completely stable before you start working, and be careful not to over-reach and lose your balance.
  • Move your seat along regularly so you don’t have to stretch.
  • Wear suitable shoes and clothing to protect your feet and lower legs when using tools at ground level.

 


Equipment and tools

  • There are tools designed to break up soil using actions such as pushing, pulling and twisting – these are called cultivation tools – and may be easier for you to use than a spade.
  •    Using a short hand trowel
    To dig or cultivate a raised bed where you are close to the soil surface, use a hand trowel or fork, or a claw-headed cultivator that works with a twisting action.  You could also use a tool with a longer handle to reach the back of the bed.
  • If you want to dig at ground level from a wheelchair or seat, try using a lightweight long-handled trowel, fork, or cultivator. Make sure that the tool is lightweight and that the handle is the right length to allow you to reach the soil.
     


Peta long reach Easi-Grip hand tools  

Peta long reach Easi-Grip hand tools

These long but light steel tools have soft grip handles that are at right angles to the tool head. This allows the wrist and hand to be held in a neutral position which reduces strain.

Find out more about Peta long reach Easi-Grip hand tools


T-handle long reach trowel and fork  

T-handle long reach trowel and fork

These long handled tools have a T shaped handle which helps you push the tool into the soil.

Find out more about T-handle long reach trowel and fork


Shortest length fork and spade  

Shortest length fork and spade

Smaller in size and shorter in length than other tools but solid forged and strong enough to cope with most gardening tasks.

Find out more about Shortest length fork and spade


Cultivator  

Cultivator

This is a large three-pronged tool used for quickly breaking up soil. It is dragged through the soil and used without lifting the tool head.

Find out more about Cultivator