Gardening season is full of promise: fresh vegetables, beautiful flowers and a sense of accomplishment. But it can also be pain – literal – in the neck (and back). Kneeling, squatting, reaching, lifting and pulling are all part of garden maintenance, and sometimes these things catch up with even the most enthusiastic gardener. Preventing injuries will make your time in the yard much more enjoyable. Here are some tools to keep your thumbs green and your spine straight.
Bring the yard work to you
The best way to avoid hurting your back is to eliminate the need to bend over for long periods of time. Instead, try bringing in the yard work yours.
Raised beds are a way to elevate the ground and make gardening less intensive. For some people, a foot or two just won’t do, so above ground rolling planters are a great alternative. These can be purchased, but they’re also relatively simple to build on your own. They can be raised to table or standing height, making them easy to reach and eliminating the need for kneeling or bending. You can even pull up a stool or chair for weeding, planting, or watering, making it one of the best ways to garden with less spine.
If you don’t have room for a rolling raised bed, hanging baskets and planters also provide raised gardening platforms. Planters don’t necessarily need to be placed under a window – they can also be placed along a railing or fence. You can also adjust the height of these for maximum accessibility.
Opt for assisted squatting and kneeling
For larger gardens and yards, you can’t always rely on getting the work closer to you, and you’ll need to find a safe way to get closer to the ground. In these circumstances, it is essential to facilitate access to objects without straining the back. Rather than bending down completely, a kneeling bench with padding allows you to get closer to the ground and also protects your knees as you move forward.
There are also rolling stools that double as storage and kneeling, which also makes it easier to transport your gear on your back. For those who already have back problems but are still eager to get their hands dirty, a garden scooter is a great option. They are sturdier than your average garden stool and allow you to sit down while you work.
Try additional handles and extensions
Using tools such as shovels, rakes, and pipes can also often cause back pain. Using extensions and accessories can reduce strain on your back and make these tools more comfortable to use. Putting a second handle on a shovel, rake or hoe to use more leverage is a great way to stay upright while using these tools.
To water without bending over and squatting, try a watering wand. Standing up straight and avoiding strain on your lower back while gardening will help prevent injury.
Weeding your garden is a common source of back pain, as force often has to be applied while squatting or kneeling. Tools you can use standing up, instead, and leveraging your body weight mean you’ll spend less time bending and crouching while conquering weeds.
Some weeders work similar to a garden rake, pulling weeds out by the roots, while others are meant to cut through stubborn roots. Using them in combination with other ergonomic improvements can reduce back pain and make weeding less tedious.