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

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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 are not into DIY and prefer to purchase ready to use specially adapted tools, I have listed the ones I have tested below and a few more here  adapted tools page

If you are the D I Y type and a bad back, limited mobility or working from a wheelchair is making gardening difficult, for you, 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, 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, now use the pipe to cover the seeds over with soil. This simple adapted tool will help to sow seeds without bending.

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, then 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.

If you are sowing small seeds over a wide area use an empty pepper pot or any container with a lid that has holes just large enough to let the seeds through.

Tools to help with 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.

 How to extend the handles of hoes and rakes.

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, should be used with an Arm Support Cuff to improve weight distribution and control.

One simple 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 that I have tested you might want to consider purchasing through amazon.

Not into diy these are tools I have tested you can purchase through 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 phisically disabled gardeners, an Ergonomic Trowel, Transplanter, Weeder and Cultivator


As well as using adapted tools, elderly, arthritic and disabled gardeners will find benefit from making a few changes to your gardens, like raised beds, having sound surfaces or roll out pathways, places, Rolling seats and kneelers all of these are explained on 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.
 
And a few tips for when you are out in the garden.
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 are a disabled gardener with back problems it is more practical to use raised garden beds described on my 
raised garden beds page, 
 
But it is also possible for people with back problems and those paralyzed on one side to enjoy gardening from a non-bending position by using aids like long reach tools that are designed for gardening in the sitting position. 
Gardening aids with attachable extensions, quick release tools and adjustable cushioned handles as described in the tips on this page. 
If you buy adopted tools and gardening aids try to buy lightweight ones made from aluminium alloy, carbon fibre or plastic that are  light and easy to use.
 
Home made Raised beds, Container gardens and adapting a garden to a more mobility friendly garden layout can eliminate much of the need for bending, for people with a back problem and very useful for wheelchair gardeners. My two Articles explaining how to change your garden to a more mobility friendly layout,  raised beds  and  garden layout  for elderly, disabled and wheelchair gardeners.