Gardening has an abundance of health benefits including keeping you physically active and helping to lower anxiety and depression, both of which are linked to arthritis. Using the right tips and tools for the job can help ease any gardening task. Our experts share how to grow your green thumb.
- Employ adaptable gardening techniques. Whether converting an old garden or planning a new one, try raised beds, vertical gardens, hanging baskets and containers to make access and care easier.
- Use garden tools that minimize stress and maximize power. Wear gloves and opt for tools with padded, wide, long, extended (or telescoping) and ergonomically designed handles that can be held with joints in neutral positions. Pistol grips are held with hand and wrist joints in a more relaxed and neutral position to reduce strain. And opt for tools that can be easily held with two hands, such as those with an “O” grip. Or, wrap handles with foam pipe insulation for easier grasping and extra padding.
- Use a bulb planter. Choose one with a long handle to dig small holes from a standing position. A shovel step can also provide a larger surface and better leverage when standing on a large shovel when digging big holes.
- Water plants with ease. Handheld watering cans can strain joints. Instead, use soaker hoses, simple sprinklers on timers or professionally-installed sprinkler systems. Opt for coiled hoses that are lightweight and don’t tangle like traditional garden hoses. Use ergonomic, auto-locking and/or lever-style hose nozzles to reduce or eliminate hand pressure from continuous squeezing. Self-watering systems and devices for outdoor or small indoor container gardens are also handy.
- Use Spring-loaded or power-assist pruners and loppers (like those from Fiskars, www.fiskars.com, many of which have received the Arthritis Foundation’s Ease of Use Commendation) to reduce the force needed to trim plants.
- Mulch and apply weed barriers and borders to reduce the amount of weeding (and watering) required. Use spray-on organic weed killers to eliminate stooping to pull and pry up weeds, or a long-handled weeding tool (like Fiskars Deluxe Stand-up Weeder, www.fiskars.com) to stab, step on and pull up weeds while standing.