Guest Author - virginia hixson
Gardening Without Bending - Much...
This article is primarily a review of some helpful garden tools. The tools in this article reduce the force required to work, increasing efficiency and productivity. If you have a repetivie strain injury, they should assist you.
First, some basic tips. Work with softened ground. This allows all tools to work with least force and operate most functionally. If you have hard soil, like I do, its best to give the area you will work a deep watering the night before you begin working, so that the ground softens before you begin.
There are some postural techniques that will help as well. For those, please see the articles on lifting and posture.
I love gardening but for several years now, since I injured my knees, getting down to ground level has been a problem. As a result, I always keep my ears and eyes open for solutions tools and techniques that will let me play in the garden without needing to bend my knees very much.
Some of the most useful tools for anyone with a sore back or sore knees are designed to solve the problem of reaching the ground without a lot of bending. Some are well known standard tools while others are newer developments. Generally, they have long handles. Many have adjustable lengths, ranging from one foot to three feet. Some are full length.
Hoes of various types are useful, but their ability to decrease bending depends not only on the handle length, but the angle of the blade. Most have the blade protruding close to 90° from the handle. The close it is to 90°, the more you will have to bend (generally the back) in order to get the hoe at the proper angle in relationship to the ground. They can save knee stress.
The Backsaver Long Handle Tool Adapter helps to adjust for some of the angle problems in standard tools such as rakes and hoes.
The Garden Weasel (advertised on television) is an example of a long handled cultivator and weeder. It does take a fair amount of strength and force to use however, unless your soil is very loose. I loved the idea of it, but found it difficult to use.
I often check out Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH) for standard tools. These include a fruit picker, a dandelion digger (4 foot ), various rakes, and adjustable length loppers (2.5 3.5 foot), light weight shovels, and bulb planters. These are well balanced and durable.
Other tools are a little harder to find. Fiskars has a long handled grass shear that works better than others I have tried. Once you get used to working with it, it works well.
Fiskars also have a long handled weeder that works well and does not require excessive force to operate.
I hope you get a chance to try these tools - or try out the ideas anyway. If you've had to give up gardening, go slow and easy and they may make it possible again.
Ames Long Handled Dandelion Digger
Fiskars Weed Up-Rooter
Fiskars Long Handled Grass Shears