How do tend to a garden if you have arthritis, are elderly, or otherwise are mobility-impaired? It's one thing to overcome indoor obstacles like reaching toilet paper on a high shelf; but it's quite another thing to lift big bags of mulch, kneel in dirt, and hoe weeds.
First thing, you need to completely change your way of thinking about garden tools. Traditional garden tools are inappropriate for people who must deal with hand and finger discomfort, as well as for those with mobility challenges. The solution is to seek out garden tools made just for such a situation. In fact, after using some of these tools for awhile, you may wonder why you ever used the "classic" type of garden tools in the past!
The 90-Degree Handle for a More Comfortable Grip
The key to any ergonomic tool is the ninety-degree angled grip. Most gardening tools, such as the shovel, trowel, hoe, cultivator, and others, provide a gripping surface that runs in a straight line from the tool head to your hands. This means that you must adjust your hands to conform to the tool. Twisting your hands, wrists, and arms in a linear fashion usually results in pain.
By contrast, the ergonomic garden tool conforms to you. The key element is a short handle that rests at a ninety-degree angle, or perpendicular, to the garden tool shaft. This allows you to grip the handle with one hand in a natural upright position.
You will find trowels, cultivators, hoes, and forks with just such a smart design. If you don't want to give up your traditional linear-shaft garden tools, you can even buy add-on grips that turn these into ergonomic tools.
The Support Cuff for Added Stability
One other aspect of ergonomic garden tools is the support cuff. Available for many types of garden tools, this support cuff works in conjunction with the 90-degree handle mentioned above.
The support cuff is positioned behind the 90-degree handle, allowing you to slip your forearm through the cuff. You now have two points of stability: the cuff and the 90-degree handle.
Soft, Non-Slip Grips
Classic garden tools have wooden handles or perhaps even hard plastic handles. The core feature of ergonomic garden tools is the soft, non-slip grip that absorbs sweat and conforms to your hand.
Extra-Long Garden Tool Shafts
Finally, for gardeners who cannot quite reach their intended target, there are garden tools with extended shafts. Cultivators, hoes, trowels, and forks are available with long shafts between 31" and 34" which allow a gardener to sit on a garden seat caddy or on the ground and tend to plants from a distance.
© Copyright 2007 The Wright Stuff, Inc. Articles may only be redistributed in its unedited form. Written permission from The Wright Stuff, Inc. must be obtained to reprint or cite the information contained within this article.