I often find gardening to be a grounding, relaxing activity. But even as it soothes and centers the mind, it can cause pain in the body, especially for individuals with arthritis. Fortunately, many companies have developed ergonomic gardening tools for people with arthritis, making it possible to continue caring for your plants with minimal pain.
Best Ergonomic Gardening Tools for People with Arthritis
The key features to look for in arthritis-friendly gardening tools include ergonomic design, simplicity of use, and safety. Gardening tools should be lightweight and comfortable to use yet sturdy enough to be effective. They should not look like a puzzle to solve but rather something that will make gardening easier: they are tools, after all. And safety, of course, is important as well, since the point is to reduce pain, not replace it.
Adaptive gardening tools
Add on grips and handles can make gardening tools easier to hold and more comfortable to work with, without replacing everything in your garden shed. Some, like the BackEZ Grip, add a D-shaped handle to long-handled tools like shovels, rakes, hoes, pitchforks, and even hoses for an additional grip and improved posture.
Others, like the Peta Easi-Grip Add-On Handles, add an extra vertical grip to long-handled tools and can even convert hand tools to a more ergonomic design. The further addition of an arm support cuff provides support for weak hands or wrists. Other examples include attachable extension rods and cushioned handles.
For a do-it-yourself approach, try using a plumber’s foam pipe insulation to improve grip and comfort on too-small hand tools. Cut a length of pipe insulation to match the handle, then cut a slit down the length of it and fit it over the handle. Secure the foam with duct tape, wrapping it carefully around the handle so that there are no uncomfortable seams. For an even better grip, add an additional layer of athletic tape, again checking for and adjusting any seams that might rub.
Best ergonomic hand tools
Radius Garden makes some of the most popular gardening tools for arthritis sufferers. Their lightweight yet sturdy hand tools have ergonomic, curved handles that reduce stress on hands and wrists. Look especially for their ergonomic trowel, weeder, and transplanter.
The Peta Easi-Grip Long Reach Garden Tools offer long-handled versions of hand tools, with a set of a stainless steel cultivator, trowel, hoe, and fork. The soft, nonslip handle of each tool sits at a right angle to the shaft to allow your hand and wrist to work in a natural position. If you like the vertical handle but not the long shaft, Peta also offers short-handled versions of these tools.
Pruning shears that are good for arthritic hands
Ratcheting pruning shears reduce the effort required to cut through small woody branches as well as herbaceous stems. Popular ratcheting pruners include The Gardener’s Friend Pruners and Gonicc 8″ Professional Ratchet Anvil Pruning Shears. Similarly, Fiskars PowerGear2 Softgrip Pruner features a patented gear technology that triples the power of each cut, and it has a contoured, rolling handle for comfort and ease of use.
Ergonomic shovels and other long-handled tools
One of the most popular long-handled tools for people with arthritis is the Fiskars 4-Claw Weeder. This unique tool has a serrated, stainless-steel claw that easily removes dandelions, thistles, and other invasive weeds without requiring the user to bend or kneel.
In addition to hand tools, Radius Garden also offers long-handled tools, such as their Pro-Lite Floral Shovel. Its lightweight design and smaller head mean easier digging and lighter loads. And like all Radius Garden long-handled tools, it has a patented O-shaped handle for a natural grip and extra leverage. Other tools in this line include a digging fork, transplanter, edger, and spade.
Garden hose for arthritis sufferers
Lightweight coiled hoses are one great option for watering your garden or look for a kink-free hose like the Flexzilla Colors SwivelGrip Garden Hose. This lightweight, tangle-free hose coils and uncoils easily yet lays flat when stretched out. When buying a new hose, you might also want to consider purchasing an easy-to-use garden hose reel and a spray nozzle that won’t hurt your hands.
Garden hose reel
If hand-cranking a hose reel has become difficult, try an automatic rewinder like the Suncast Powerwind Automatic Rewind Hose Reel. It winds up your hose for you with the press of a foot pedal and comes with a rechargeable battery.
The best garden hose spray nozzle
Once again, Radius Garden makes the list with its Dragon Nozzle/Sprinkler, which has five settings for hand watering and two for sprinkler use. A thumb control regulates water volume, and you don’t have to hold down a lever while watering. The lightweight, aluminum Dramm One Touch Rain Wand has a similar feature, allowing you to switch the water flow on and off with simple a thumb valve.
How to keep gardening with arthritis pain
Arthritis pain does not have to keep you (or your loved ones!) from enjoying gardening work. With the right tools, you can continue tending to your garden and doing what you love. Remember to look for the three key features: ergonomic design, simplicity of use, and safety. Comfortable, lightweight, functional tools will help make gardening enjoyable again.
Serena Manickam is a freelance editor and writer and sustainable market gardener in rural Virginia. She holds a BA in environmental science and runs Fairydiddle Farm, a small market garden in which she grows no-spray produce and herbs to sell at a local farmer’s market.