How to Garden When the Body Won’t Bend

Aging is particularly hard on gardeners who must bend, lift and stretch to make their beloved green things grow. But you don’t have to give up on gardening when your body no longer cooperates.

“No style or garden is out of reach,” writes Joann Woy in her book, Accessible Gardening. “As with so many things in life, you may have to be a little more creative, a little more ingenious, and a little more adaptive to achieve the results you want.”

Here are tips on how you can continue your green passion no matter what physical shape you’re in.

Raise Them Up: Raised gardens – the higher the better – are the best way to eliminate the grunt work of gardening. Not only can you avoid bending to plant seeds and harvest vegetables, but you can fill the raised boxes with a potting soil and compost mix that will cut down on weeds for many seasons. And when weeds eventually appear, the light soil mix makes them easier to pluck.

  • Buy or build your boxes waist or wheelchair high.
  • Make sure you have enough room between boxes to maneuver.
  • Place boxes near a water source so you can easily hook up a hose or dip a bucket.

Extended Tools: A world of ergonomic and extended tools exists for gardeners who have trouble bending, reaching and digging. You can find shovels with a D-grip that lets you arrange your hands in the most comfortable position, special pruners that reduce hand fatigue and blisters and extra long hand tillers with a grab bar that takes pressure off wrists.

Hanging Baskets: Plant strawberries, bush beans, chives—just about anything that doesn’t need a lot of room to spread—in hanging baskets attached to a pulley system that lets you lower baskets to whatever height is comfortable. Be sure to water often, especially during warm weather, and place baskets over a surface that will soak up draining water.

Vertical Gardens: Gardening is growing up—literally. You can attach planters or trellises to the side of your house and grow a garden that is easy to tend. Vertical gardens can be as easy as hanging clay pots from a chicken wire trellis, or you can repurpose wood pallets by stapling landscaping paper to the back, filling with soil, then placing plants between the slats. I’ve even seen a vertical garden made from 2-liter plastic bottles strung on rope and attached to the side of a building.

Perfect Plants: If you can’t get to the plant, let the plants get to you. That means selecting varieties that grow tall enough to harvest easily (tomatoes) or grow on trellises (peas and beans). If you’re planting a hanging basket garden, look for varieties labeled “compacta,” like Pixie tomatoes, which are smaller versions of larger cousins and won’t topple in containers.

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111 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Maria Mohoric
Marija M3 years ago

tks for sharing

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Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran3 years ago

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Kathryn Irby
Past Member 3 years ago

Good to know there's an option!! Thanks!

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Tony D.
Anthony D3 years ago

TY

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Julia Cabrera-Woscek

Oh, I loooove this idea!

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Shirley Plowman
Shirley Plowman3 years ago

So helpful for so many, thanks.

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

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Toni W.
Toni W3 years ago

Thanks for the great article - I have disabilities and this is very informative. YAY I can do some gardening again.

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