All gardeners know that this ‘hobby’ of ours can be hard work. But when you have the added challenge of coping with a painful condition like arthritis, it becomes much harder.
In the UK, there are millions of people with arthritis of one form or another, with the knees, wrists and ankles being the most commonly affected joints. On the whole, most sufferers are able to live a fairly normal life – with the aid of pain relief and support. But gardening can still be a painful and uncomfortable experience, and watching a beloved family member struggling to perform the simplest tasks in the garden is heartbreaking.
This inspired me to search the internet for the best garden tools for arthritis sufferers to maybe reduce strain and stress on those aching joints and help people enjoy their hobby once again.
So, here’s my list of arthritis-friendly gardening tools that I hope you’ll find helpful!
Pruning Tools For Arthritis Sufferers
Arthritic hands often struggle to grip tools, making it difficult to use secateurs, pruners and loppers. I checked out some excellent ergonomic gardening tools that reduce pain and are great for weak hands.
These brilliant secateurs use a ratchet action to increase the cutting power with minimum effort from the user! They are surprisingly lightweight at only 220g, and the manganese steel blade slices through plant stalks, stems and small branches with remarkable ease.
The soft rubber grip makes this tool comfortable to hold and very easy to use – all in all, an excellent choice for anyone with arthritis affecting their hands.
These secateurs look like they mean business! They’re still lightweight, though slightly heavier than the ones above, at 330g. The ingenious ergonomic soft-grip rotating handle makes it very easy to use and helps to avoid wrist strain, while the fingerguard protects against knocks and scratches.
Another good feature is the adjustable width, making them suitable for big or small hands.
Finally, those wickedly sharp carbon steel blades make short work of pruning, and the ratchet mechanism increases the shearing power by at least 30%.
For something with more oomph, check out these lopping shears from Fiskars. This brand is well-known for its ergonomic garden tools that take the strain out of gardening, and this is a good example.
They are surprisingly lightweight, weighing only 379g! The stainless steel blades work efficiently, cutting branches up to 3.5cm thick and requiring much less effort due to the clever rack and pinion mechanism.
Another plus is that they are suitable for left and right-handed gardeners.
If you need some extra help cutting through small branches, Scotts have got you covered with this handy tool. The 7.2volt 2Ah lithium-ion battery powers two blades that cope easily with tough, woody stems, bushes and shrubs. The rechargeable battery lasts for about 2 hours, giving between 200 and 800 effortless cuts on a single charge.
As you’d expect, this tool weighs a little more than the others. However, at 816g it shouldn’t cause too many problems for most people with arthritis, especially as it is well-balanced and comfortable to hold. Also, the dual-action power switch makes it safe to use.
Digging Tools For Arthritis Sufferers
Gardening often involves getting down to ground level to dig those flower beds with trowels and forks. Aside from putting strain on knee joints (more on this later!) it can be difficult to hold those small hand tools.
In my search, I discovered some excellent ergonomic tools that will make gardening easier on your hands.
This four-piece set includes a fork, trowel and cultivator, along with a pair of tough gardening gloves. The beauty of these tools is that they have a unique ergonomic design with an upright handle that allows for a more natural grip. Traditional tools stretch the tendons and put pressure on the wrists and thumbs, while these ones are far more comfortable.
Also, they’re more effective as the different style of handle offers extra leverage as you work! That means you need less effort to get the job done, making life easier and reducing the risk of aggravating your condition.
The round, ergonomically designed handle is very different from a traditional spade and looks a little strange, to begin with. However, it is seriously comfortable with its foam padding, and it offers four times as much gripping space as your ordinary D-handle spade.
The lightweight design, combining a fibreglass shaft with a serrated carbon steel blade, brings it in at a little over 2kg, so it’s pretty easy to use without getting fatigued. It also has extra wide footplates to assist you when pushing the blade into the ground using your foot.
Another point in its favour is that it was featured in the Arthritis Today magazine!
This is another brand that has pushed the boundaries of ergonomic design, creating special tools to make gardening more accessible for those with chronic pain conditions.
The Roamwild Multi-Digger looks a bit futuristic, but it works a treat! Weighing only 2kg, it’s incredibly easy to lift about, and the unique dual-grip handle gives you more control. The designers used reinforced fibreglass for the shaft to keep the weight down, and then made holes in the handle to shave off extra grams!
This versatile tool is ideal for digging and shovelling, and one side of the arrow-shaped blade is serrated, cutting through roots like the proverbial hot knife through butter. The large footplates add another dimension, and you can feel that none of your energy is wasted as the blade bites down into the earth with little effort.
Weeding Tools For People With Arthritis
Environmentally conscious gardeners always avoid using harmful chemicals to control weeds, but that can mean hours of back-breaking work as you dig out all of those pesky weeds! This is always much worse for those coping with chronic pain.
But never fear, there are arthritis-friendly gardening tools that can make the gardening experience more enjoyable and less painful when it comes to weeding.
Here’s one example from Fiskars:
This brand has proven its dedication to producing excellent tools for people with arthritis and other such conditions. However, this particular tool was awarded the Arthritis Foundation’s ease of use commendation!
This neat gadget only weighs 1.36kg, so it won’t strain your arms. It’s designed to be used from a standing position, helping you to avoid joint pain from too much bending (good news for gardeners with back pain, which you can see in my other article!). The offset handle helps to avoid stress to your wrist, and the foot pedal is excellent for getting those four serrated stainless steel blades into the ground.
The blades grip the weeds, including the root, and the whole thing is pulled out when you tilt the tool backwards. The quick-release mechanism is really easy to use, allowing you to deposit the weed into a wheelbarrow or compost heap with one easy movement.
Other similar tools include –
All of these are excellent for gardening with arthritis! You can also check out our posts about the different power tools.
Other Helpful Garden Tools
Aside from digging and weeding, other jobs can be difficult for arthritic hands, knees and ankles.
The trick is to look for gardening tools that help you to avoid bending or having to lift heavy items. I found a few great ideas in my search for the best garden tools for arthritis:
- Green Haven Premium Garden Seat/Kneeler – This lets you sit or kneel in comfort as you are tending your soil or lawn, so you don’t need to bend all the time. It has handy pockets on the side for your small garden tools.
- GARDENA Premium Lance – Few people with arthritis relish the thought of lifting a full watering can! While most would probably have a garden hose, it’s still difficult to reach all areas, especially hanging baskets. This hose wand is lightweight, weighing only 400g. It is really easy to use and is 90cm long, allowing you to water your plants and hanging baskets with ease. The spray nozzle is adjustable, with three settings: soft-shower, spray and piercing jet. When used with a lightweight hose, this item is ideal for arthritic hands.
- COSTWAY Rolling Garden Cart – A brilliant little trolley with two generous storage baskets and a comfortable seat that can be adjusted to your height. It swivels sideways so you can reach flowerbeds without bending.
- SyeJam Arthritis Gloves – These comfortable gloves support your hands and prevent inflammation by boosting blood circulation. They keep your hands warm but are breathable so they don’t get too hot!
How To Keep Gardening With Arthritis
When arthritis (or any other debilitating condition, like fibromyalgia) hits you, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give up gardening. Of course, it depends on how bad your individual case is and how much pain you’re in.
Even so, there are a few ways to reduce the pain, as well as investing in ergonomic gardening tools like the ones I’ve listed above:
- Raised beds are a perfect solution! By raising the level of the growing beds you make life easier as there’s no bending and you can even use a seat or a cart for extra comfort.
- Take it easy. Don’t overdo it and have regular breaks. Try to gauge how much work you can do before it starts hurting and stop for a while.
- Work smarter, not harder. Tackle jobs little and often, and use the right tools. The gardening tools I’ve mentioned are only a tiny example of what’s out there, but even these ones would bring many benefits for anyone with joint pain. Take advantage of them as much as possible!
- Get further advice from the Arthritis Foundation or a qualified physician. Don’t suffer in silence! Help is out there when you need it. You don’t have to give up being a gardener because of arthritis or joint pain.
Finally, don’t be discouraged. Arthritis is unwelcome, painful and horrible. But help is at hand and with a little investment and effort, you can keep your garden in good shape. Also, if you’re looking for the best gardening tools for bad backs, you can check out our post.