How to make or adapt gardening tools for elderly and disabled people

If you are elderly, suffer from arthritis or other disability that makes digging, planting or weeding your garden difficult, even painful. Using the correct garden tools that have been especially  adapted can make a lot of tasks easier and gardening enjoyable again

Adapting your own garden tools can be less expensive and the tools just as comfortable and easy to use as tools specially designed for use in the garden. So if you are elderly or have a disability that restricts movement or a bad back that makes bending painful I have included a few (how to modify tools) tips here. 

making gardening just that little bit easier
making gardening just that little bit easier

Gardening tools you can make or adapt yourself.

If you prefer to purchase ready to use specially adapted tools, I have listed the ones I have tested further down this page. 

But read on if you like Diy maybe have a bad back or limited mobility or working from a wheelchair making gardening difficult for you or maybe have an elderly or physically disabled relative or friend, read on, these simple tips to make and adapt your own gardening tools really can make many difficult or uncomfortable gardening jobs easier and  adapting or making your own tools is a lot cheaper too. 

These are gardening  tools that are easy to make or adapt yourself. 

Tools for sowing seeds.
Back pain can be a deterrent to sowing seeds, if a painful back or knee condition make the job difficult this simple homemade tool reduces bending.
  • To make a seed sowing tool that will help to sow seeds without bending
  • Cut a four foot length of 2 ½ inch PVC pipe making a 45 degree angle at one end.
  • Use the sharp end of the tool to make furrows or holes in the soil.
  • Put the seed or seeds in the top and let them fall down through the pipe into the soil,  
  • Use the pipe to cover the seeds over with soil.

 

  • If you have a weak grip or arthritic fingers a roll of toilet paper can be a useful planting tool for gardeners,
  • Pour the seeds on to a piece of dry light coloured cloth, 
  • Dampen a piece of toilet paper and use it to pick up the seeds, the seeds will stick to the toilet paper, push the paper the seeds are stuck to into the hole and cover with soil.

 

  • For sowing small seeds over a wide area 
  • Take an empty pepper pot or any container with a lid that has holes just large enough to let the seeds through.
  • If you need to make  the holes bigger pierce with a small screw driver or scissors.
  • Sprinkle the seeds like you would pepper.

 

Tools to help if you have a weak grip.

Making the handles of hoes, rakes, spades or shovels thicker, make the tools easier to use if you have a weak grip.

Tools with wider padded handles are easier to grip if your hand grip in not as strong as it used to be. Adapting your own tools by padding out the handles with foam is a lot cheaper than purchasing new ones and can make the tools as comfortable as the adapted tools you find for sale in the shops.  

  • How to make tool handles thicker, easier and more comfortable to grip.
  • Cut rectangles out of foam that are long enough to fit your hands and wide enough to wrap around the handle.
  • Slice about three-quarters the way through the width of the foam rectangle, stopping an inch short of the top.
  • Fit the handle of the hoe, rake, spade or shovel into the notch and secure the foam with strong waterproof tape.

 

Long reach gardening tools for gardeners working from a seated position or with bending difficulties are more difficult to make or adapt yourself. They provide additional length to assist reaching ground level, or across wider garden beds and because of the balance and resultant stress on your wrist and arm and should be used with an Arm Support Cuff to improve weight distribution and control

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  • There are a couple of fairly simple ways to extend the handles of hoes and rakes.
  • One way is to fasten a broomstick handle or similar length of wood, either by screwing or using waterproof tape, parallel to the handle. Make sure the overlap is sufficient to take the weight.
  • Another way is to fit a longer handle to the existing tool head.   

If adapting your own tools is going to prove difficult I have listed some here  I have tested that you can purchase through amazon.

these are tools I have tested you can buy from amazon.

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..

  • Made of durable metal frame, and solid steel axles allow for easy steering and mobility
  • Tools and supplies can be held in the basket and tray cane, keeps your supplies at the ready
  • Easy to use, and no more aching knees and painful backs; front wheel can be controlled by easy-to-reach turn bar
  • Adjustable height and 360 degree swivel seat for meeting your various needs
  • Overall dimension: 81L x 44.5W x 46-59h (cm); weight capacity: 150kg

 

Long reach and easy to grip garden hoe 

  • Designed for gardeners working from a seated postion, those with bending difficulties or a weak grip
  • Ergonomic handle keeps hand in naturl position, preventing sprain
  • Non-slip grip, prevents tool slipping in the hand even in wet conditions
  • Brightly coloured handle - easy to find in garden or shed
  • We strongly recommend that the Arm Support Cuff is always used to improve weight distribution and control

 

 Long reach and easy to grip garden fork 

  • Stainless steel tool,Brightly coloured handle - easy to find in garden or shed
  • prevents soil adhesion for easier use and cleaning,Overall length c. 80cm (30") gives greater accessibility without need for bending or stretching
  • Ergonomic handle allows more work for less effort
  • Option for Arm Support Cuff (recommended) uses strength of forearm in addition to hand & wrist
  • Non-slip grip,prevents tool slipping in the hand even in wet conditions
  

 

Long reach and easy to grip garden trowel 

  • Designed for gardeners working from a seated postion, those with bending difficulties or a weak grip
  • Ergonomic handle keeps hand in natural position, preventing sprain
  • Overall length c. 80cm (30") gives greater accessibility without need for bending or stretching
  • Brightly coloured handle - easy to find in garden or shed
  • We strongly recommend that the Arm Support Cuff is always used to improve weight distribution and contro

 

Arm support cuff
 
  • Can be purchased at the same time to provide extra arm support. 
  • It simply plugs into a hole in the back of the tool grip.
  • Plastic moulded cuff , 
  • Soft-feel lining, Plug in rod, 
  • Attaches securely to garden tool

Ergonomic Garden Tools feature a patented ergonomic grip that provides more leverage with less wrist stress.

Traditional garden tools force you to use your hands and wrists in ways that can cause injuries. The  Ergonomic Trowel, Weeder and Cultivator can minimise the risk, 

This Gardening range of tools is designed as part of a collection of solutions for improved mobility and independent living.

The Ergonomic Garden Tools is designed to reduce wrist stress and is surprisingly light. Included are a selection of the most useful hand tools for elderly and physically disabled gardeners, an Ergonomic Trowel, Transplanter, Weeder and Cultivator


Here's a summary of things you can do to make gardening easier on your body when you are out in the garden.

 

As well as using specially adapted tools elderly, arthritic and gardeners disabled in other ways will find benefit from making a few changes to your gardens, like growing in raised raised beds, having sound surfaces or roll out pathways, rolling seats and kneelers all of these are explained on or linked from my disabled gardening page. 

 

Being old or disabled doesn't mean gardening has to stop. Just the opposite, time spent in the garden is good for us and fun. 

 

  • Don't spend to much time at each gardening task, do just as much as you can without your disability becoming uncomfortable. It's more important to enjoy the garden and the exercise you will be getting.
  • If you suffer from back problems it is more practical and makes sense to use raised garden beds  to avoid bending and stretching.  
  • People with back problems and those paralyzed on one side or unsteady on there feet  can carry out most gardening jobs from a non-bending sitting position using long reach tools with attachable extensions and quick release tools.
  • People with weak grips can use ergonomic garden tools to reduce wrist, hand and finger stress and adjustable cushioned handles as described in the tips on this page. 
  • Practical changes to your garden need not be expensive and can include Raised beds, Container gardens. Adapting a garden to a more mobility friendly garden layout can eliminate much of the need for bending.
  • Wheelchair gardeners. where possible and this need not be a costly exercise need to adapt there a gardens to be able to get around using the wheelchair. Things to consider when changing a garden to facilitate a wheelchair are gradients, camber, materials and width for paths to make access safe and easy.   
  • When buying adopted tools and gardening aids look for lightweight ones made from aluminium alloy, carbon fibre or plastic that are light and easy to use.
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