Gift Ideas: For Gardeners with Physical Limitations
by Dawn Lesley Stewart
I love to garden. My father is a great teacher, and over the years shared a lot of valuable gardening information, lore, and helpful tips with me. Time keeps rolling along, though, and he’s now in his eighties. He is not as agile as he used to be, but he is still interested in the gardens. Even now the two of us have been pouring over the garden catalogs that are arriving at the house.
Here are some gift ideas for gardeners who have physical limitations. Let’s make their time in the garden easier and more enjoyable.
Garden Stool or Bench
Consider a sturdy multi-purpose portable garden stool and kneeler. This looks like a small bench when set upright. Turn it upside down, and the bench “legs” become arm supports for helping one to lower down to the bottom of the bench (which is now a kneeling pad) … and the arms also lend support for standing up again. I make sure the yard has plenty of sturdy chairs, too, which my father uses to leverage himself up and down from the areas he wishes to weed.
A simple canvas style apron that clips around the waist like a fanny pack can hold a variety of items. I have one that has pockets for a water bottle, cell phone, and a few gardening tools. Having these items within reach eliminates having to bend or reach for them. It’s also a great idea to have a cell phone at hand in case of emergency.
My mother introduced me to “grabbers”. The physical therapist gave her “grabbers” when she had knee replacement surgery. This nifty tool resembles a giant pair of tweezers. At one end of the pole is a handle with a squeeze trigger that operates the “pinchers” at the opposite end of the pole. The pinching device is outfitted with non-skid material to help hold objects. Grabbers can be used to reach items that are too far away to easily pick up. For outdoor use, they are great for picking up yard waste or even trash that someone might have thrown in the yard.
Here is a list of tools with long handles to reduce bending or having to lower one’s self to the ground. I have purchased all of these for my father. Pruners with long handles enable him to trim plants and bushes with less strain. If short handled pruners are preferred, look for ergonomic choices that have soft grips and easy spring action. Also check for safety locks to keep the blades locked when the pruner is not being used.
This is an often used tool. The long-handled shovel allows us to dig with less back strain. Plus, with the shovel point firmly in the ground, my father often uses the long handle as a prop for a brief rest during digging.
A variation of the long-handled shovel, a trowel with a long handle works great for more precise digging. I bought one that has a rubberized cushion grip for additional comfort.
Long-Handled Weed Digger
Remember the old-fashioned dandelion weeding tools. They have what I consider a “forked tongue” at the end of metal shaft. The long-handled weed digger is crafted along the same lines, except the handle is much longer.
My father loves the upside-down tomato garden. This planter stands tall so that he can easily work the soil and harvest the plants in the top portion of the planter, and try to grow tomatoes in the bottom section. I say “try” because we have had minimal success growing upside-down tomatoes. However, the planter is well constructed and has withstood years of outdoor use.
Raised Garden Beds
A raised garden bed lifts the garden area higher into the air, which requires less bending. There are kits that provide the garden bed walls and corner pieces so all that is needed is the dirt and plants. Another variation of this idea is to buy or build a garden table on legs. This resembles a regular table except that the table “top” is actually a planter that holds dirt. Those who are in wheelchairs benefit from this type of garden since the chair can be rolled up to and a bit under the table for easier gardening.
Perhaps the gardener in your life prefers smaller garden projects. The shepherd’s hooks I have throughout the garden make excellent hangers for garden baskets. I have grown flowers and vegetables in the baskets with success. Growing a garden in hanging baskets keeps the plants off the ground so no stooping over plants is necessary.
Online or Catalog Shopping
I do most of my garden shopping online. The catalogs are fun to browse through, but I let my fingers tip-tap the keyboard when ordering. Those with physical limitations might prefer to buy their seeds and gardening supplies online and have them delivered directly to the door … no tiring treks to and from the store, or lifting and fitting items into the car.
Happy Gardening !
Dawn Lesley Stewart has enjoyed organic gardening for over forty years, learning at a young age from her father. First love is vegetable gardening followed by her interest in butterfly and bee habitats. She considers her yard a sanctuary for birds and wildlife. Her writing has appeared online and in print and has won writing awards. Dawn is the author of Harriet’s Horrible Hair Day (picture book), Mist-Seer (paranormal novel), and her newest book 300-Plus Quilting Tips, Tricks & Techniques features over 35 years of quilting knowledge.
Copyright 2010 Dawn Lesley Stewart