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Taking a few simple precautions like using the correct tools and changing your garden layout, can take the pain out of most gardening tasks and bring back the pleasure of gardening, providing exercise that can be beneficial to back pain sufferers.
Correct posture when walking, lifting and bending over is important.
Adapting your garden layout with special attention to access, getting around easily and
Bare patches encourage weeds to
grow, mulching the surface of the soil with bark, compost from your bin or well rotted manure shuts out the weeds and helps to retain the soils moisture, saving on
watering. Planting ground cover plants or laying a weed suppressant material and planting through it also helps to keep borders weed free.
Raising flower and vegetable beds reduces a lot of bending down, especially if they are raised to waist level. I have included a lot more information on my raised garden page. Keeping the beds narrow reduces stretching and bending across to work. Even the most basic raised bed made from old car tyres can dramatically reduce back strain as you won't need to bend over your garden for long periods.
Lawns even small ones, are high maintenance needing regular mowing during spring summer and autumn. Wildflower lawns need less maintenance and can be interesting and fun.
Steep steps can put a lot of strain on your back, consider adapting them to have more steps with lower rises or even a gently rising ramp. Bear in mind the more steps you build the further the steps will need to run. Its better to build the steps backwards into the border rather than forward, causing a trip hazard. If adapting the steps isn't feasible adding handrails could help take the strain of your back.
More about garden layout on my elderly garden design page.
Adapted gardening tools for working with a bad back.
Where possible use tools with long handles that reduce your need to stretch. Most tools can be extended by fitting specially designed extensions or telescopic arms.
Keep smaller tools in a holster on your belt to save bending down to pick them up.
Loppers and pruners with a ratchet mechanism and blades that are kept sharp help reduce the strain on your back.
You can have a look at a selection of specially adopted gardening tools for gardening with a painful back here tools for the disabled.
Digging my garden is painful.
No dig gardening is ideal for gardeners with bad backs, its also better for the soil and can produce better results than the old fashioned double dig method. It takes a bit of hard work setting up but if you have a painful back its well worth getting someone in to do the hard work for you. All the information you or your helper will need is on my gardening without digging page.
Planting with a bad back.
Slow growing shrubs are easy to maintain but if you are using easy
to access, raised beds try a few annuals and herbaceous perennials for interest and colour.
Use containers that are easy to reach for growing vegetables like courgettes, potatoes and lettuce. Try to group them in one spot as they will need more watering than border grown plants. container growing.
Fruit trees grown on dwarf root-stock or trained along trellis to keep them low so you can pick the fruit at a comfortable height.
are a good idea and minimise back strain.
Use ground cover plants to reduce weeding and add colour and variety.
Try to make your garden as accessible as you can, bear in mind the stuff we have discussed on this and other pages and you can plant almost anything.
Planting tips and advice can be found by selecting the page from the menu top left, some pages lead to others.
Summary of Caring for your back in the garden tips.
This Wheeled gardening seat is a great gardening aid if you suffer from a bad back that makes bending difficult it reduces the stooping and bending associated with weeding and planting etc.
The swivel tractor-type seat lets you sit and work up to 23" above the ground and roll around on four large 10" diameter pneumatic tires.The tray under the seat is handy to carry your gardeners tools along with you..