Jim Miller, an advocate for older Americans, writes “Savvy Senior,” a weekly information column syndicated in more than 400 newspapers nationwide. Based in Norman, Oklahoma, he also offers a free senior e-news service at SavvySenior.org.
Gardening is a favorite outdoor activity for millions of Americans, but it can be tough on the body. Garden work often requires a lot of repetitive stooping, squatting, kneeling, gripping and lifting, which can lead to back pain, knee injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis in the elbow.
To help make your gardening chores a little easier, a wide variety of gardening gear is available now that is lightweight, comfortable to use and ergonomically designed to help protect your body from the physical strains of gardening. Here are the best of these…
Specially designed gloves can improve your grip and protect your hands.
Atlas Nitrile Touch 370 Garden Club Gloves are form-fitting and made of a breathable nylon knit with palms and fingers that are coated with Nitrile. This thin and flexible synthetic rubber provides excellent grip with less effort and can withstand punctures from small thorns. Available in four sizes and six colors. $5.90. (Amazon.com)
ReliefGrip Gardening leather gloves have durable silicone fingertips and extra padding in the palm and finger joints that can improve gripping power and reduce calluses and blisters. $29.99. (877-524-6642, BionicGloves.com)
Ergonomically designed tools can help take stress off your wrists by reducing the bending and twisting wrist movement that often comes with digging and weeding.
CobraHead Weeder and Cultivator is a steel hook-shaped blade that flares at the tip, resembling the head of a cobra. It requires you to primarily use your arm muscles (rather than your wrists) to dig and chop into the soil. Available in various versions: A short-handled version (13 inches) for close-up work, $24.95…or a long-handled version (48-, 54- and 60-inch options) for standing work, $59.95. (866-962-6272, CobraHead.com)
Miracle-Gro Five-Piece Ergonomic Garden Tool Set has hand tools with curved handles that keep your wrist in a natural, straight position. The set includes a scooper, weeder, transplanter, cultivator and trowel. $54.99. These tools also are sold separately for $9.99 each ($14.99 for the scooper). (734-222-8044, RadiusGarden.com)
Radius Pro Stainless Transplanter is a multipurpose shovel that has a large O-shaped handle that allows you to comfortably grip it with both hands for better leverage. It also has a narrow blade and oversized areas for foot placement on the blade to provide better balance and ease of use. $46.99. (734-222-8044, RadiusGarden.com)
Fiskars makes three types of pruning tools that have earned the Arthritis Foundation’s Ease-of-Use Commendation, which recognizes products that make life easier for people who have arthritis and other limitations. These tools all have “PowerGear” mechanisms that increase leverage to make cutting easier than with traditional pruners…
Fiskars PowerGear Hand Pruner is for cutting stems and branches up to three-quarters-of-an-inch thick. It has a contoured handle that rotates toward you when you squeeze it to reduce hand and wrist strain. $24.99. Fiskars also offers the same pruner in a large size for people with big hands for $29.99 and a soft-grip version for extra comfort, $13.99. (866-348-5661, www2.Fiskars.com)
Fiskars PowerGear Loppers cut tree and shrub branches up to two inches thick. Loppers come in five different lengths, ranging from 15 to 32 inches, and cost between $26.99 and $47.99. (866-348-5661, www2.Fiskars.com)
Fiskars PowerGear Hedge Shears are for shaping and trimming hedges and shrubs. These shears give you up to three times more power on every cut. $41.99. (866-348-5661, www2.Fiskars.com)
Corona Razor Tooth Folding Saw, used for pruning branches, offers a seven-, eight- or 10-inch razor-toothed curved blade that folds into the handle for safe, easy storage. It has an ergonomic grip for comfort. $26.70 to $30.34. (800-847-7863, CoronaToolsUSA.com)
Knee pads and garden seats can protect your knees and save your back when you are working close to the ground. The Gardener’s Supply Company (888-833-1412, Gardeners.com) offers a number of well-designed products…
Jolly Kneeler is a lightweight polyurethane knee rest that is molded to support your knees and has a built-in handle. $29.95.
Garden Kneeler is a multipurpose knee pad with steel support handles to help you raise and lower yourself. Or flip it over, and it becomes a padded bench to sit on for weeding or planting. $34.95. There also is the Deep-Seat Garden Kneeler with a 30% larger knee pad/seat. $44.95.
And there is the GardenEase Kneeler (shown at top), with easy-to-grip round handles and a removable foam pad that you can use separately for indoor chores. $69.95.
Deluxe Tractor Scoot with Bucket Basket is a height-adjustable, swivel garden seat on four wheels. It has a pull handle that doubles as a support to help you get up and sit down, a built-in accessory tray under the seat and a rear basket mount that lets you carry tools, plants or other gardening paraphernalia. $89.95.
Lightweight garden hoses and hoses that put themselves away can make watering chores much easier. And ergonomic spray nozzles are easier to grip and squeeze.
Water Right 400 Series 7/16-inch Slim & Light Polyurethane Garden Hose weighs just three pounds for every 50 feet of hose and provides a four-to-five-gallon-per-minute flow rate (with normal water pressure), which is adequate for most watering chores. Available in 25-, 50-, 75- and 100-foot lengths and four colors. The cost ranges from $39.95 to $99.95. (800-796-5420, WaterRightInc.com)
Professional Water Coil Hose by Water Right is good for watering in small areas such as a porch, patio or small garden. Made of polyurethane with a three-eighths-inch inside diameter, the coil hose retracts when you’re not using it, making it easy to put away. Available in 25-, 50- and 75-foot lengths and up to five colors. $34.95 to $69.95. (800-796-5420, WaterRightInc.com)
Suncast Hydro Power Auto Rewind Hose Reel uses water pressure to automatically rewind the hose with just the flip of a lever. Eight different styles and sizes are available, ranging from 100-foot to 150-foot hose reels and costing $75 to $140 (the hose is not included). (800-444-3310, SunCast.com)
Easy-Squeeze Spray Nozzle has an ergonomic, insulated grip with a front-pull lever that is four times easier to use than the traditional back-pull lever. It provides seven spray patterns from gentle mist to forceful jet, a water-flow adjustment and a trigger lock that keeps the handle in spray position to reduce hand fatigue. $14.95. (888-833-1412, Gardeners.com)
True Temper Total Control Wheelbarrow is a lightweight (35-pound) one-wheel wheelbarrow with a six-cubic-foot polyethylene tub and steel loop-handle grips that make it easier to maneuver and dump than straight handles because you don’t have to readjust your hands. Around $70 at The Home Depot.