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Sweeping and raking when you have sight loss

Sweeping garden paths and paved areas keeps them clear and safe.  Sweep regularly, especially at leaf-fall, or when you’ve been weeding or doing other work.  

Top tips to make sweeping easier

  • Sweep with a dustpan and brush
    You will find sweeping easier if you use a dustpan and brush and get as close to the area as possible so you can sweep and feel as you work. Wear strap on knee pads for comfort.
  • Reduce the amount of sweeping that you need to do when weeding by gathering up weeds as you go and put them in a bucket or barrow. Alternatively, spread a plastic sheet on the ground when weeding or hedge cutting to collect the debris. 
  • When sweeping larger areas, some visually impaired gardeners find right-angle guides invaluable. These are home made guides that can be laid on the ground to give you a set area to sweep. Find out how to make your own right-angle guide and read more about how the guide can be used in the garden

Taking care when sweeping

  • Sweeping can strain the arms, back and knees so stop and take a break if you feel too tired.
  • Always ‘warm up’ with a few gentle stretches and only work for short periods, to avoid strain.  

Equipment and tools

  • Choose a brightly coloured dustpan and brush with comfortable handle grips and a good sized pan to collect any dirt and debris. Adding brightly coloured rope or tape to a dustpan and brush can also help make it more obvious to you.
  • If you have some sight, a long-handled dustpan and brush can take less effort to use and can mean less bending.

 

Raking 

Raking break ups and levels the soil, helps to remove stones and prepares the soil surface for planting and seed sowing. A garden rake with short, strong prongs is used for this job.

You also need to rake the lawn using a spring-tined lawn rake to clear ‘thatch’ – the build-up of dead grass and moss, etc, that can stifle the lawn. Leaf rakes, also with springy tines, are used to gather grass cuttings and leaves from the lawn. 

Top tips to make raking easier

  • Rake using a right angle guide
    When raking, some visually impaired gardeners find right-angle guides invaluable. These are home made guides that can be laid on the ground and pegged to give you a set area to dig, fork, or rake. Find out more about how to make your own right-angle guide.
  • When raking soil, lift the rake towards the end of each sweep, this action will help break up the soil.
  • You may find it easier to rake kneeling close to the ground. Wear stap on knee pads and a hand rake. Feel the soil as you go, raking towards you and removing any stones and debris.
  • When raking standing up, use a rake of the right length and weight for you to avoid bending and strain. A mower with a grass box can reduce the cuttings that collect on the lawn – and the need to rake the lawn to remove thatch. 

Taking care

  • Lifting, dropping and dragging the rake can jolt the arms and strain the back and it can take strength to draw the rake towards you.
  • Raking can be surprisingly strenuous work so take lots of breaks. Always ‘warm up’ with a few gentle stretches and only work for short periods, to avoid strain.  

Equipment and tools

  • Fist grip and arm support
    A fist-grip can be fitted to a rake to help you to lift it and is useful if you use one hand.
  • The lightest rakes have plastic heads and aluminium handles. However, you may find it easier to use a rake with a heavier head as the weight helps to push it into the soil. Choose a brightly coloured rake as well.
  • Rakes with telescopic handles can be adjusted to suit your height and if you need a shorter rake, there are various handle options in the multi-change ranges that can be used with a rake head attachment.
  • A spring-tined lawn rake is best for clearing lawn ‘thatch‘ – although a stiff ‘besom’ broom can work for some people.
  • A hand, or adjustable, lawn rake can be used to gather up weeds or other debris, especially from a wheelchair.
  • To save bending when collecting raked leaves, try a grab and lift rake that collects leaves as you go.

 



Large lightweight broom  

Large lightweight broom

The lightest brooms for outdoor use are from the multi-change ranges. The lightweight brush head fits onto a handle long enough to prevent too much bending.

Find out more about Large lightweight broom


Small hand rake  

Small hand rake

Light and easy to handle, this rake tool head fits on different length handles, or a telescopic handle, and is ideal if you sit or stand to garden.

Find out more about small hand rake