If you or your loved one has had to give up or severely restrict a gardening routine because of a disability or limited ability, there are many different tools and ways to modify existing tools that will continue to make gardening a valuable part of life. Disabled gardeners probably have a limited range of movement. If sitting is necessary, for example, there are tools to make sitting an equally effective position as kneeling or standing. Tools for disabled gardeners are made from lighter materials than traditional tools. With the right tools, the garden and gardener will thrive.
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Tools for Gardening From a Seated Position
Wheelchair gardeners or gardeners who cannot stand for long periods of time will have to do their gardening from a seated position. From this position it is helpful to have tools that will do the reaching for the gardener. With extendable gripping tools it is possible to reach for small pots, do light pruning, weeding and pick up litter. If gardening from a seated position, it is necessary to have longer tools to compensate for a limited range of motion. There are long-handled trowels and cultivation tools, as well as tools for planting bulbs and other bedding plants. If gardening from a wheelchair, consider tools that snap on, twist and clip to give extra length from a seated position. Firm-grip weed pullers make it possible to weed from a distance.
Stools are a good idea for gardeners who find it uncomfortable or painful to kneel and stand repeatedly. These stools often come equipped with raised handles on both sides. A kneeler is good for using as a stool when tending raised beds.
Tools for Arthritic Gardeners
Gardeners with arthritis will find it more difficult to grip gardening tools and to position garden hoses. Trigger grips have a thumb pad on top and a trigger underneath for a better grip. Garden Tools For All Seasons explains that a ratchet pruner can produce up to 10 times the force applied and can cut easily through thick woody stems, requiring several gentle squeezes to work. Making threaded connections from garden hoses to sprinklers and other attachments requires gripping and twisting the wrist in a way that can be painful or even impossible for the arthritic gardener. Quick connectors make it possible to simply snap items together.
Tools for Gardeners With One Hand
Gardeners who are limited to one hand may find T-handled tools helpful. They allow for a better grip and help the gardener turn the tool for better results. There are also "cut and hold" tools that make a cut and grasp the cutting at the same time. These tools are good for light pruning, deadheading, reaching arches and pergolas. Some have a swivel head to prune and collect cuttings and shears with adjustable blades that swivel through 180 degrees for gardening next to walls or fences. One of the most important aspects of a functional tool for one-handed gardeners is a handle with a good grip. Any tape or foam that can be added to a handle will help the gardener a lot.
Adjustments and Accessories
Many of these tools have simple accessories that allow for easier gardening. Gripping aids are helpful for any disabled gardener. Add-on handles keep the hand in an upright position to improve grip, and they may be added onto an existing tool. These handles reduce undue back strain and offer a wider range of movement without the need to twist the body. Arm support cuffs keep the hand and wrist in a neutral, stress-free position and they provide a firmer grip on the tool. Telescopic tools allow the gardener to adjust the length to just what she needs as she changes her position for comfort.
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