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
Choose tools with a grip that is comfortable for you. There are different grip options including fist-grips at right angles to the tool, T shaped grips, grips made from soft materials and tools with extra wide handles – they are all designed to make gripping the tool easier.
- Think about the job you’re going to do and plan what will make it easier for you. You may need hand tools for working at a high raised bed, or lightweight, extended handle tools for working at lower beds.
- 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.
- It would make sense to look at your garden layout and perhaps rethink certain areas to make it easier to work and reach the soil. Raised beds, containers at different heights, easy-reach trained fruit trees, replacing the lawn with hard surfacing and plenty of seating around the garden will make a difference. Find out more about raised beds
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 a sunny area of the garden.
- 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.
- Avoid straining your hands by resting your hands frequently and change jobs to vary the action needed.
- You might find it easier to move your equipment around the garden in relay fashion, taking your chair out first, then your tools. Alternatively, use a tall garden cart or wheelbarrow with a bar-style handle.
- 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.
- If you need to take thing easy to start with, think about doing some gardening jobs like sowing seeds or potting on a table indoors. You could also have a table to work on outside in good weather.
Equipment and tools
Look at tools with different grip options. These include fist-grips at right angles to the tool, T shaped grips, grips made from soft materials and tools with extra wide handles – they are all designed to make gripping the tool easier.
- For pruning, you might find it easier to use loppers, which are operated with two hands, than secateurs which put all the strain on one hand.
- You can make standard hand tools easier to hold by sliding some plumber’s insulating tubing over the handle, or look at specialist ranges with wide spongy grips.
- 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 lightweight tools to help prevent stresses and strains in your hands and arms.
- 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.
- Hand tools can be carried in a tool belt, apron or bag – whatever you find easy. Secateurs can be safely carried in a holster.
- When working in lower beds, avoid strain and over reaching by using lightweight tools of the correct length.