Now your garden can thrive, even when you have a bad back
National Gardening Week is 13 - 19 April and, as the weather improves, green-fingered gardeners are itching to get outside. If back pain makes gardening a painful pastime, our simple tips will allow your garden to flourish without the added strain on your back...
Get clever with your garden layout
Design your garden so that you can easily manoeuvre around plants and flowerbeds without having to reach or stretch too far. One back friendly landscaping trick is to use raised flowerbeds, which require no stretching. If the beds are built well you can sit while planting, giving your knees and back a rest.
Tools that won't strain your back
Use tools that will allow you to do your gardening without having to bend down to the ground. Forks and trowels with long handles let you tend your flowerbeds from an upright position, and some tools have extensions or telescopic arms that reduce your need to stretch. If you do need to kneel down, use a portable garden stool to protect your knees and joints. Always use a wheelbarrow to transport gardening tools instead of carrying them. Also, trade in your heavy watering can for a hosepipe, so you're not straining your muscles carrying it around the garden.
Low maintenance plants
Reduce your work in the garden by concentrating on slow growing shrubs, such as low maintenance Lavender, that are easier to maintain than annuals and herbaceous perennials. If you don't want to give up your favourite annuals that require lots of digging and attention, such as courgettes, potatoes and lettuce, you don't have to. They will thrive in easy access containers or window boxes, so you can save your energy for bigger gardening jobs.
Digging made easy
Digging soil is strenuous, often requiring twisting motions that result in back pain, but there are other ways to dig up weeds and level the soil. The no digging garden method involves spreading manure, compost and fertiliser over the surface of a flowerbed. Some initial weed removal and digging is required, so ask a friend for assistance, but you'll avoid repeat painful motions in the future and have a healthy garden to enjoy.