Gardening is enjoyable on so many levels. Gardening with osteoarthritis presents challenges but none that should interfere with your love of gardening. While gardening is a productive hobby that allows you to grow beautiful flowers and healthy vegetables, to get to that point, there is some work involved. The goal is to be able to do the work of gardening while enjoying yourself -- and not make your osteoarthritis symptoms worse. So how can that be accomplished? Here are some tips to keep you gardening. Don't let osteoarthritis stop you!
Buy Arthritis-Friendly Gardening Tools
There are gardening tools that have been designed to assist people with physical limitations including decreased range of motion and joint pain. Many gardening tools have longer handles, built-up grips, and added features to improve leverage. Make gardening easier by knowing what's available.
Build Raised Flowerbeds
Create a garden that you will be able to maintain. Planting, trimming, weeding and other gardening tasks require movement, bending, and reaching. Make your garden as accessible as possible from the start. Consider raised flowerbeds. Bring gardening up to a level that is more comfortable for you.
Perennials Versus Annuals
Choose plants that are easy to grow and low maintenance. For example, there are perennial flowers that come up every year after planted. Annuals will flower for one season only, and the following year you would need to re-plant. Research varieties of plants and choose what fits your style of gardening.
Protect Your Joints
Use your largest and strongest joints, so you will not stress single joints or weaker areas of your body. Be aware of proper ways to stand, sit, bend, reach, and lift that will allow you to put less stress on your joints. Also avoid staying in one position for too long -- otherwise pain and stiffness will increase. Balance activity with rest. If you notice that you are having more joint pain, take it easy.
Utilize a Wagon or Cart With Wheels
Carrying gardening tools, bags of dirt, or even a hose, will make your joints scream. You can't lift and carry easily with osteoarthritis as healthy people do. Find an alternative that works for you. Some sort of wagon or cart with wheels would minimize physical stress.
Your garden will need to be watered on a regular basis. First of all, get a hose caddy so you don't have to retrieve the hose every time you water. The hose caddy should stay close to the area you will be watering. If you have an in-ground sprinkler system, make sure each plant has its own extension -- it's own water source.
Even with arthritis-friendly gardening tools, raised flowerbeds, a well-planned garden, and an awareness of joint protection, if it feels overwhelming -- downsize. Buy a number of decorative pots so you can still enjoy gardening with containers. You will still have a garden, but container gardening may be more manageable for you.
Listen to Your Body
You will need to pay attention and listen to your body signals. Just because you did great the last time you spent time gardening, you may have a different experience the next time. If you find you are in a lot of pain, or you are dealing with fatigue, and the gardening feels more like a chore than an experience -- take a break, a nap, or put it off for another day. Take care of yourself. The garden will wait for you.