Sue Daniels added three raised planters to her Mount Helix garden five years ago in hopes that her husband could join in vegetable gardening without aggravating his problem back. But the veteran Master Gardner quickly became a fan herself.
“I liked not having to bend down all the time,” she says. “It was easier to garden, and I didn’t get tired as fast.”
The sturdy, 9-foot-long redwood boxes are 2 1/2 feet tall and 6 feet wide, making them easy to reach across to weed or water without moving from side to side. A ledge around the top provides a place for Sue to sit while tending her latest passion: heirloom tomatoes.
Sue’s experience has reinforced her conviction that gardening can be a life- long hobby, regardless of age or abilities.
“You don’t have to give up gardening,” the 60-year-old says. “You just have to find ways to do it differently.”
Today there are many ways to alter the garden and gardening to compensate for aching knees, arthritic hands and other ailments, as well as more serious disabilities. Here are some suggestions.
• Raise Your Beds. You can build raised planters from scratch or buy an easy- to-assemble kit; they come in many styles and sizes. Gardener’s Supply Co. (gardeners.com) features a 10-inch-wide,
2-by-8-foot cedar planter on aluminum legs for $249. Other options include the V-shaped fir VegTrug (71 inches long), also $249, and raised cedar beds similar to Sue’s (2 feet by 2 feet for $195 or 2 feet by 8 feet for $339).
• Rely on Rotation. Get close to your garden in seated comfort with the Gardenaround Table. The raised circular planter, 57 inches in diameter, rotates for easy access to 12 pie-shaped mini- planters. Four adjustable legs are inset to accommodate wheelchairs and scooters. $818 at gardenaround.com.
• Use Easy Tools. Lightweight and effi- cient, ergonomic tools minimize wear and tear on hands, wrists, arms and shoulders. Fiskars PowerGear pruners and loppers require less effort than traditional tools to trim trees and shrubs. Corona trowels and weeders feature cushioned handles, while the curved handles on Radius hand tools minimize wrist discomfort. All are available from garden, hardware and online retailers.
• Lift Baskets. Avoid climbing a rickety ladder to tend hanging baskets and birdfeeders. The Plant Caddy by Riverstone Industries uses a ratcheted pulley system to lower and raise baskets (weighing up to 8 pounds) for watering and other maintenance. $20 for three
at Home Depot.
• Apply the Soft Touch. Protect your knees with a waterproof kneeling pad for working on the ground. Gardener’s Supply Co.’s Deep-Seat Garden Kneeler ($45) has side arms for support in standing up. Flip it over and it’s a low garden bench.
• Think Ahead. Plan for lifelong, easy access when designing your garden. Install paths that are level, smooth and wide. Terrace banks. Add railings along stairs. Also make sure there’s plenty of seating for well-deserved rests.
By Mary James