3/24/2021 | By Kari Smith

Gardening brings relaxation and a sense of balance to many – from those with a lifelong green thumb to folks with a newfound desire to grow things. However, gardening can be challenging for older adults. Mobility issues may restrict kneeling, standing, and digging. Outdoor elements – including relentless heat, humidity, and the glaring sun of the summer – can make the task difficult and even dangerous. But there is hope! We’ve put together some of the best gardening tools for seniors to make this situation easier.

Curate Your Tool Kit

To most safely and effectively enjoy gardening work, begin with a curated tool kit containing all of the most popular hand tools you will need. It should contain pruning shears, hand spades and shovels, hand weeders and hoes, snips, etc. Be sure to choose a kit that has quality, ergonomic tools that have a non-slip coating, which makes it easier to grip. Choose a bright color that stands out, as popular brown- and green-handled tools may be easily be lost in the dirt, grass, or plants.

The Best Gardening Tools for Seniors Includes the Right Gloves

A good pair of gloves is necessary! There are countless styles of gardening gloves, but beyond your typical cloth or neoprene-coated gloves, there are two other types are worth mentioning.

Claw Gardening Gloves

If you have never used Claw Gardening Gloves, it may be worth checking into a pair of these waterproof gloves tipped with “claws” for digging and planting. These pointed tips eliminate the need to manipulate an additional tool by using the strength in your fingers to dig.

Puncture-Proof Gloves

Also consider using leather puncture-proof gloves to protect your hands and arms while working with prickly or sharp thorns or briars. Wearing a lightweight, light-colored, long-sleeved shirt can also help protect your arms from injury and sunburn.

A Long-Handled Shovel

It is almost impossible to garden without digging, but using a shovel for planting, preparing ground or removing roots can be difficult on the back. Although it may not have quite the same precision as a small hand trowel, using a long-handled shovel prevents kneeling with a hand shovel. Using a V-shaped cutting bade will help to cut through the soil much easier than a square blade, and a rounded ergonomic handle will be easier to hold. Look for an edge to place your foot on to utilize your leg strength to help push the shovel down through the dirt.

Kneeler Seats

Getting up and down in the garden can range from difficult to nearly impossible. It can be especially dangerous for those who suffer from low blood pressure, as they may become dizzy or faint upon standing, especially in the heat. There are many varieties of kneeler seats available. There are basic lightweight folding seats that allow you to quickly and easily unfold for sitting. There are also kneelers that store a variety of tools and kneeling pads under the canvas seat. Be sure to tuck in a bottle of cool water to stay hydrated!

A Garden Cart or Seat

A garden cart is also handy for holding your tools, equipment, plants, and bags of potting soil or fertilizer. A similar adaptation is the rolling garden seat, which stores your tools as a garden cart does, but also converts to a mobile seat. As a bonus, and what else makes it one of the best gardening tools for seniors: these can also be used for hauling groceries, packages, or trash and are more stable and easier to control than a wheelbarrow.

Finding the Right Garden Hose Nozzle

For those with carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, or diminishing hand strength, an ergonomic garden hose nozzle is a must-have. With this type of nozzle, your thumb locks the hose into the on position, and you do not have to use hand strength to continuously squeeze the nozzle as you water your garden.

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Raised Garden Bed

Consider a raised garden bed. Many gardening, landscaping, and home improvement stores sell raised garden bed kits, and they can be built out of scrap lumber. Raised beds allow you to garden without kneeling or bending, and puts the plants right at your level, even for gardeners in wheelchairs. Not every plant thrives in a raised bed, but many plants are easily adaptable to raised beds or container gardening.

Kneeling Pads

If you are able to kneel in the dirt, be sure to use a kneeling pad or protective kneepads. There are many sizes, thicknesses, and styles of kneeling pads, so choose the one that works best for you. Beyond keeping your knees dry and clean, they also cushion your joints from the hard ground.

Protect Yourself!

Finally, two of the best gardening tools for seniors are probably something you already have on hand: sunscreen and a sun hat! Choose one with a wide brim that offers UV protection. On top of sunburn, there are a number of heat-related illnesses, including dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

In addition to being great exercise, gardening is a highly therapeutic activity. Fortunately, there are a myriad of tools that make it accessible and easier for any plant enthusiast to continue pursuing their love of growing things.

Kari Smith

Kari Smith is a frequent contributor to Seniors Guide, helping to keep those in the senior industry informed and up-to-date. She's a Virginia native whose love of writing began as a songwriter recording her own music. In addition to teaching music and performing in the Richmond area, Kari also enjoys riding horses and farming.

Kari Smith