Finding the perfect tool solutions for the aging-in-place gardener

Looking for the right tools for yourself or a parent to keep gardening? When arthritis, swollen joints, cranky knees, limited strength and stamina make it harder to garden, the helpful tools are getting better and better.

It’s been raining – and  raining – and raining - where I live.

On one hand, it’s lovely for the gardener. My tight clay soil is made up of tiny powdery particles that hug each other like a mother saying goodbye to her child leaving home for the first time. But when that soil is saturated, those particles spring apart from each other. All the sprouted hackberry seeds with 3-inch roots that don’t let go in dry soil now slide out easily. Latex coated gloves like these help my grip and protect the skin on my hands.

On the other hand, after 4 years of drought, all the native plants have jumped into growth, making up for their earlier struggles. Once the rain moves on, it will be time for serious pruning, even of smaller plants. So, time to clean out the shed and check for the right tools.

Nolinas and native ruellia taking over the agaves

Nolinas and native ruellia taking over the agaves

Here’s what is on my checklist:

  •  Foam grips for the handles of small tools like trowels
  • Well-made trowels – the last one from a big-box store broke at the weld with its first use!
  •  A folding stool that converts to a knee-saver for ground-level work when flipped over
  • A standing weed puller
  • A strong ratchet pruner like this one from Fiskars
  • A small bucket of sand mixed with clean motor oil on a shelf for quick tool cleaning

I’m also fascinated with some of the new ideas coming out.

Researchers in Canada studied the ergonomics of using long-handled tools like rakes and shovels. They found three types of body motion we use when gardening – lifting (like with a shovel), pushing & pulling (like with a hoe) and twisting (like with a rake or broom). These D-grips and T-grips can increase the amount of leverage in your hands, making the tasks easier with less strain on the body.

Our newest rain gauge

Our newest rain gauge

And here’s the one for my hint list – a HERgonomic® shovel. Yes,  there is now a shovel designed for the way a woman’s body moves when she uses a shovel. It’s available in three different handle lengths. The company says it has an enlarged step to maximize female lower body strength, plus a blade/handle angle to work with our digging style.

So, bring on the lushness, plants. I'm ready to help you look your best!