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Gardening season is full of promise: the fresh vegetables, beautiful flowers, and sense of accomplishment. But it can also be a—literal—pain in the neck (and back). Kneeling, crouching, reaching, lifting, and pulling are all part of garden upkeep, and sometimes these things catch up with even the most enthusiastic gardeners. Preventing injury will make your time in the yard that much more enjoyable. Here are a few tools to keep your thumbs green and your spine straight.
Bring the gardening work to you
The best way to keep from hurting your back is to eliminate the need to stay bent forward for significant periods of time. Instead, try bringing the gardening work to you.
Raised garden beds are one way to elevate the soil and make gardening less back-intensive. For some people, a foot or two won’t cut it though, so rolling planters that are elevated above the ground are a great alternative. These can be purchased, but they are relatively simple to build on your own, as well. They can be raised to table height or standing height, making them easy to reach, and eliminating the need to kneel or bend over. You can even pull up a stool or chair to do weeding, planting, or watering, making these one of the best ways to garden in a spine-friendly manner.
If you don’t have the space for a rolling raised planter, hanging baskets and window boxes also offer elevated gardening platforms. Window boxes don’t necessarily need to go under a window—they can also be arranged along a railing or fence. You can adjust the height of these, as well, for maximum accessibility.
Opt for assisted crouching and kneeling
For larger gardens and yards, you can’t always rely on moving the work closer to you, and you’ll have to find a safe way to get closer to the ground. In these circumstances, making it easy to reach things without straining your back is key. Rather than bending all the way down, a kneeling bench with padding allows you to get closer to the ground and also keeps your knees protected as you go.
There are also rolling stools that double as storage and kneelers, making carrying your equipment easier on your back, as well. For those who already have back issues but still can’t wait to get their fingers in the dirt, a garden scooter is a great option. These are sturdier than your average garden stool, and they allow you to sit while you work.
Try extra handles and extensions
Using tools like shovels, rakes, and hoses can often cause back pain, as well. Using extensions and attachments can reduce the amount of strain you put on your back and make these tools more comfortable to use. Putting a second handle on a shovel, rake, or hoe to use more leverage is a great way to stay upright while using these tools.
For watering with less stooping and crouching, try a watering wand. Standing up straighter and keeping strain off of your lower back while doing yard work will help prevent injuries.
Weeding your garden is a common source of back pain, as it often requires applying force while crouching or kneeling. Tools you can use standing up, instead, and leveraging your body weight mean you’ll spend less time bending and crouching while conquering weeds.
Some weeders operate similarly to a garden rake, pulling weeds up by the roots, while others are meant to cut through stubborn roots. Using these in combination with other ergonomic improvements can decrease back pain and make weeding less time-consuming.