Garden Tools For Back pain Sufferers
Tested and Reviewed by Fred-in-the-shed
Updated 25th July 2017
Do You Suffer From Back Pain? Can't Do As Much Gardening?
Before starting Fredshed I worked for 6 years as a horticultural therapist, helping elderly and disabled people at The Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Oxford, England. The Nuffield is one of the worlds leading Orthopaedic hospitals and is famous for pioneering surgery. As part of my work I helped teach on a course for people with serious back problems.
My job involved researching tools and techniques to help people use gardening as a form of rehabilitative therapy; often after surgery. During this time I produced 2 books and obtained and tested hundreds of tools from around the world.
Working as a Horticultural Therapist at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Oxford
On this page I will outline some important principles for working with tools in the home and garden and feature a few special tools that are particularly good if you have a back problem.
** The advice on this page is written for people with
minor back problems such as low grade pain (backache) and difficulty bending. If you have
these problems or anything more serious then I recommend that you consult a
qualified physician or therapist before undertaking any serious gardening or DIY work.
New Fiskars Long reach lawn Puller
Fiskars Weed Puller - Black
Fiskars Light Weed Puller - Black
This excellent lightweight gadget requires no bending to use, (as long as your eyesight and co-ordination is good).
It has 3 jaws that clamp around the weed and when you pull it backwards the weed is pulled out.
You can then remove the weed from the jaws by sliding the orange apart of the handle to push them off into your bucket or barrow.
I have tested literally hundreds of weed pulling tools in my long career as a garden tool reviewer and it is important to be realistic about their performance.
No weed puller will get every weed out as they tend to work better on larger deep rooted weeds.
Also they require accuracy to use so if your eyesight is bad and you can see the weed you want to remove these precision weeders are no use as you will end up bending down to trap the weed first.
As weed pullers go this is a good one and I like using it in the right conditions.
Back is done in and I cant do the gardening anymore!
How many times have I heard this from
desperate and depressed patients in the hospital. Well for what it is worth my own back
really is "done in"** so much so that I am paralysed from the waist down and use
can usually do the gardening, and if I had the time, I could come and do yours too!
The secret to gardening with any kind of back problem
is to use your brain, think more, find special tools and equipment to
reduce strain and most importantly
PACE YOURSELF - TAKE RESTS
DONT DO TOO MUCH
STOP BEFORE IT HURTS
Unless you are prepared to take on these ideas in full
then, I would recommend that you give up now, hire a gardener or concrete your
Still with me?
To overcome this type of problem you need
to be determined and not be put off. There is a saying, "where there is a will-
there is a way".
Firstly, know all you can about your condition, seek
advice from different sources, and become your own expert, but part of the team. You could
even keep a diary to try to identify what effects your condition.
Before doing any gardening or DIY make sure you do a
few warm-up exercises. Gently stretch and move to prepare your body. Wear the comfortable
clothes, and try not to get cold.
Think of your garden or work area as a GYM,
do the work carefully and properly and you will benefit. Overdo it or misuse the equipment
and you may get hurt.
Pace yourself, even keep a timer in your pocket.
Dont be a Turkey and stop when you hurt. Stop
before and come back to fight another day.
Think like an athlete, when you stop, cool
down, do a few gentle cool down exercises, go and rest, maybe have a cup of tea, (have one
The following tools are some of those I often recommended for people with
Solid Forged Digging Fork with longer handle
This traditionally made digging fork has an extra long handle to make digging easier for taller folk.
It is arguable that most forks and spades sold today are too short as they are the same length as tools made hundreds of years ago when people where shorter. I dunno about that but it is obvious that longer tools suit longer people and this fork has the strength to be able to take the extra strain *
* it is possible to bend any fork if you try hard enough or use it inappropriately
Garden or digging forks are designed for soil and are most commonly damaged when use to lever roots and rocks which is a task more suited to a crowbar or pickaxe.
use links below for smaller "border size" size digging tools
Bulldog Premier Border Fork
Bulldog 5609 Premier Wood Border Spade
The handle on this Bulldog spade is 4 inches longer than the standard version.
Soil Cultivating Tiller
The tool shown above is the Wolf soil Miller. It is a well made German tool that has been in production for at least 25 years. It is ideal for re-cultivating large areas of soil without the need to dig or bend. It will not clear away large weeds as they will get caught in the spiked wheels that are designed for breaking down the soil.
The rear of the tool has a swinging blade that cuts down to 4 inches in the soil. It is used in a backwards and forwards motion to enable the spiked wheels to break down the soil dug up by the swinging blade.
I have used this fantastic tool for over 15 years and recommend it to people who have good soil and regularly prepare open soil for vegetable planting.
The Wolf Soil Miller is part of the excellent Wolf Multichange system where around 50 tools and handles are interchangeable.
Many manufacturers have introduced this type of tool system but none have lasted as long as Wolf or made them to the same quality or had the consistency of distribution in the UK.
Price approx £50 with handle (sold separately)
Wolf Garten UIMC Multi-Change Leaf Rake
Wolf Garten ZM140 3944142 Eschenstiel Multi-Star
click here to buy wolf Multichange handles
If you found my page useful please come back and use my Amazon, and other links when purchasing as this helps pay for my site and work, thanks, Fred
Long Handled Cut and Hold Pruner
Darlac DP110 1000m Cut-n-Hold Snapper
Telescopic Snapper Adjustable
NEW BARGAIN VERSION -USE LINK BELOW
Spear & Jackson 8200RS/09 Razorsharp Easy Reach Pruner
This long handled cut and hold pruner is one of my favorite tools and one that I have used for over 10 years. That's why it won the first ever Golden Shed Award.
It comes in different sizes from the 650mm version shown here right up to the telescopic one that extends to 3m!
This tool is ideal for light pruning up to16mm thick, and for deadheading roses etc. Whilst working as an NHS horticultural therapist I recommended this tool to hundreds of patients with back pain. I received many letters of thanks and never had a tool returned faulty.
650 mm version shown left- but the best version is longer at 1m and is superb for reaching climbing roses or into the back of deep prickly borders.
The "snapper" can be used one or two handed and has a lot of handle adjustment. It is also very well made and I am still using one that I have had for over 10 years.
2 Tools in 1
Grass and shrub trimming!
The Bosch ISIO can be converted from a grass shear to a small shrub trimmer in seconds and is surprisingly efficient.
Running time is very good thanks to the Li-ion batteries and I get 20 minutes use which included some woody shrub material. The softer the material you cut the longer the battery will last between re-charges.
The Bosch ISIO is available as a grass trimmer and/or a shrub trimmer. There is also a kit that includes both blades which is very good value and known as the "Bosch ISIO shape and edge kit"
A new , breakthrough in powered garden tools, this lightweight grass shear and shrub trimmer has Lithium Ion batteries for power and durability.
Lithium ion batteries are also more environmentally friendly.
Bosch Isio Cordless Shrub/ Grass Shear
Bosch Teleskopstiel Isio
Bosch Sprayer Attachment for Isio III Shrub & Grass Shears
Best tool to pick up leaves without bending
Darlac Grab-n-lift - does what it says on the tin.
Its simples .. It works, I have one,
Raised Beds and Raised Planters
If you have difficulty bending and/or digging then growing your plants in raised timber beds may be a good solution. By bringing the plants nearer to your reach and not walking on the soil means that there is less compaction and therefore less cultivation of the soil required.
When I first started researching tools and techniques for gardening with back pain there were no off the shelf raised beds available and most were custom built out of railway sleepers and concrete panels.
Thankfully today kits are available in eco friendly treated timber so that you can build a raised planter to your size and height easily and cost effectively.
For aesthetic reasons and also to accommodate plants of different heights I like to see raised beds of a mixed height as shown in the photograph opposite.
Raised bed kits - Designed and delivered from a Fredshed approved supplier
Raised bedding is now an established and proven method of growing plants - as well as having benefits for the gardener who cannot bend.
Helping Hand Pick Up tools
These tools can be useful in the garden, my personal favourite is the one below which can even pull out weeds and has a extendable spike to collect litter too.
The Gardena Gripper is an excellent long reach pick up tool for gardening.
It has strong jaws with a metal tip that can actually grip some weeds to pull them out.
If the jaws cannot get the item , the Gripper also has a flip out spike that is designed to stab rubbish.
Best Garden Kneeler Seat
This sturdy little seat can be used for kneeling or sitting and has the added advantage that it can be folded flat for easy carrying and storage.
These seats have been around for many years and I often recommended them to people during my work as an NHS Horticultural Therapist at the Mary Marlborough Centre in oxford. (now known as Oxford Centre for Enablement)
Some of the plastic garden kneelers and seats are very slippery to grip or unstable to sit on.
This seat is manufactured by Draper Tools and is the best I have found.
If you want a similar seat that is a little higher for taller people there is one made by Town and Country.
Also if you don't need a seat but kneel a lot then save your knees from bruising with a foam pad.
Thumper Sport Pro Massager
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© Fred Walden 2015