For people of any age, using the right tools makes working outdoors safer and more enjoyable. But in my experience in talking with senior gardeners and the health-care professionals who work with them, seniors especially need to choose their tools thoughtfully.
The best gardening tools for seniors offer features like lightweight materials, ergonomic shape or design, longer handles and electric or automated features. These tools can help allow seniors to work in the yard or garden with less pain and reduced risk for injuries like falls and low-back stress.
Today, you’ll learn more about how using the best gardening tools for seniors can help reduce discomforts and increase your productivity. We’ll also cover several tips to help you stay safer while working in the outdoors. To finish things off, we’ll take a detailed look at 15 of our favorite gardening tools for the elderly and how they can help you take back the outdoors!
RELATED: Are you a family member or caregiver who’d like to garden alongside a senior citizen? Don’t miss our post reviewing some classic tools used for gardening to discover some new favorite garden tools for yourself!
Table of Contents
Does Using the Right Tools Matter?
Lalitha McSorley, Senior Physical Therapist at Brentwood Physio, works with many seniors who are active gardeners. “The most common problems experienced by seniors when working in the garden are aches and pains. This is often due to the fact that they are not as agile as they used to be, and they may not be able to stand or bend for long periods of time. More serious issues that I often see are lower back injuries. This happens far too often and will often take 4-12 weeks to heal.”
Lynette Stotler, a senior who’s been gardening and landscaping for more than 40 years adds that she find uneven ground especially problematic. “Your balance isn’t as good as it was when you were younger, and it can take longer to react” to situations like rocky ground or a stumbling over a power extension cord.
Is there any real difference between the various kinds of garden tools out there? Aren’t they all pretty much the same? As it turns out, your choice of tools can make a serious impact on your safety, comfort and productivity in the garden.
Instead of letting your limitations dictate what garden jobs you can do, why not look into the specialized, adaptive tools out there? Here are a few features to look for that can help ease your aches and pains and maximize your time in the garden.
You may hear the term “ergonomic” tossed around often, but what does it mean?
When a tool has an ergonomic design, it has a specialized shape that fits easily and comfortably in your hand.
This thoughtful shape can benefit you as a senior in a couple of ways:
- It can leave you with less pain and stiffness if you have arthritis.
- If you have decreased grip strength in your fingers, it’s often much easier to get (and keep) a firm grasp on an ergonomically-shaped tool.
Some shovels, rakes or other large tools can quickly start to feel cumbersome or heavy after just a few minutes of use. This can be especially problematic if you suffer from back problems.
Thankfully, more manufacturers are recognizing the importance of offering lightweight tools.
Here are a few feather-light materials to be on the lookout for:
- Carbon steel
Some gardening tasks, like rolling up your garden hose reel or hauling a loaded wheelbarrow, require repetitive motions or heavy lifting.
These jobs can be difficult or impossible if you don’t have the same amount of strength you once did or you have health issues.
So does that mean you’ll have to let those tasks go undone or ask someone else to do them?
Not so fast! Using smart tools can help you both stay safe and maintain a little more independence.
Look for tools that use electricity or automatic mechanisms to do the hard work for you. You can turn on and operate many of these tools with just the touch of a button, and many of them are also lightweight to boot!
Caution: Neighbors may become jealous and give you the evil eye!
Tips for Gardening Safely
Did you know about the benefits of gardening for seniors? Working outdoors can help strengthen you in body and mind, and it can also be a relaxing activity.
No doubt about it, gardening can be a great hobby for senior. But making your time outdoors as safe as possible is a must.
Lalitha McSorley has some professional insights to share here too:
- “Lift with your legs, not your back! This is by far the most common mechanism of injury.
- Make sure your tools are comfortable to use and the right size for you.
- Take breaks often, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- Use kneeling pads or a small stool to make it easier to get down into the garden bed.
- Ask for help when needed – there’s no shame in admitting that you need a little assistance sometimes!”
In my experience in talking with senior gardeners, I would add these tips:
Be smart about sun exposure. While some sun exposure is a good thing, you’ll need to take some steps to enjoy the sunlight safely.
The hours between 10 AM and 4 PM are peak sun hours, particularly from 12 PM to 2 PM. Try to do your gardening during the morning or evening hours, when the sun’s UV rays are less intense. Use sunscreen during peak sun hours, and wear a wide-brimmed hat that provides sun protection and shades your eyes.
Garden with a buddy. Working in the garden alongside a friend or loved one a great way to add some social interaction to your day. Not only that, but having another person nearby is also a good idea in the event of any falls or injuries. Also, you’ll have an extra pair of hands to help with heavy tasks!
Our Choices for the Best Gardening Tools for Seniors
Heavy? Hard to maneuver correctly? Leaves you in pain? As a senior citizen, these don’t have to be words you associate with gardening and landscaping work any more. Thanks to today’s fresh crop of smart tools, gardening for seniors can be safer and more enjoyable than ever.
1. The Gardener’s Friend Ratchet Pruning Shears
Standard pruners use a squeeze-and-release action that can be hard on the hands, even if you’re not a senior yet!
But especially if you have arthritis or weakness in your hands, simple trimming or pruning jobs can be a challenging prospect. What’s worse, struggling with a difficult pair of pruning shears could leave you at a higher risk of injury.
These pruning shears from The Gardener’s Friend address these issues with a clever ratchet mechanism and an ergonomic design.
Shaped more like scissors than a standard hand pruner, these shears are gentle on your hands. The design also maximizes whatever grip strength you have to work with.
Does your to-do list include trimming bushes that have a few larger branches? Instead of trying to muscle through with just one squeeze, the ratchet mechanism lets you make your cuts in stages.
Although this pruner is ideal for larger trimming jobs, it’s also perfect for precision cuts. If you’re cutting a bouquet of flowers or trimming a delicate plant, these are the pruners for the job.
In my opinion, a ratchet-style pair of hand pruners can be one of the best investments a senior can make in their outdoor tools. If you’re like me, you find yourself reaching for the pruners more than any other tool!
2. Vitscan 2.2L Water Bottle
We’ve covered the importance of staying hydrated while gardening. Seriously, it’s a big deal!
Unfortunately, some water bottles can leave you struggling with finicky lids or slippery sides. Because it eliminates both of those challenges, this bottle from Vitscan is a great option for senior gardeners.
Instead of a round shape with nothing to hold on to, this bottle has a large handle that’s easy to grasp. Even if you have arthritis, hand weakness or are wearing gloves, you should be able to get a firm gip.
The top has a push tab that releases a flip-up straw, so there are no screw lids to deal with. You can drink directly from the straw, or use it as a spout to pour water into a cup.
The bottle itself has a wide mouth that lets you easily add ice cubes or use a bottle brush for cleaning.
3. Ohuhu Garden Kneeler and Seat
Over the years, the protective cartilage in your knees wears down and provides less cushioning than it did in your younger days.
This can make kneeling in the garden difficult or painful, and getting back up can be an additional challenge. In the quest for an alternative, you may have tried using a garden stool, only to struggle with planting or weeding tasks.
This lightweight, multifunctional kneeler/seat from Ohuhu solves both problems in one tool. Depending on which way you place it, you can have either a kneeling mat or a simple chair.
When placed upright, you have a comfortable, lightweight gardening stool for seniors. The seat is at an ideal height for taking a rest for a few minutes, working in a raised bed or cutting flowers.
When you need to plant seedlings or pull small weeds, flip your seat over and use it as a kneeler. The thick pad provides a comfortable cushion against the hard earth, and the high side arms come in handy for additional support while you stand up.
4. Anpress Garden Tool Set
Hand tools are essential for countless garden tasks, like digging small holes for transplants, loosening soil or making rows for sowing seeds.
To make these jobs as comfortable and easy as possible, look for tools with an ergonomic design and lightweight materials.
This set of five hand tools form Anpress includes:
- A transplant trowel with depth markings on the blade
- A hand rake to smooth and aerate soil
- A hand cultivator to loosen soil for planting (it looks like a mini pitchfork!)
- A standard trowel for small digging jobs
- A weed removal tool for pulling weeds out by the roots
These tools have a few special features that make them extra senior-friendly.
Large, rubberized handles keep your tools from slipping easily out of your hands, even if you have diminished grip strength. Also, each blade is made from lightweight, rust-resistant aluminum.
Have you ever laid a small tool in the grass after finishing a task, and then you couldn’t find it later? Hopefully, you didn’t find it only when you hit it with the lawnmower!
You shouldn’t run into this problem with your Anpress set. With their eye-catching yellow and black handles, your tools are easy to spot.
5. Garguard 50-Foot Expandable Hose
Watering your plants with a garden hose can be risky business. Not only is a traditional garden hose heavy and prone to annoying kinks, but it can also be a trip hazard.
While this expandable hose from Gardguard won’t eliminate all your hose troubles, it can certainly help.
Like all expansion hoses, this one has a stretchy inner latex core surrounded by an expandable knit fabric. As a handy extra bonus, Garguard also included a multi-setting hose nozzle.
When empty of water, this hose is lightweight, totally flexible and easy to store away. But when it’s time to water, your hose quickly expands to a 50-foot length.
Thanks to their flexible construction and fabric outer layer, expansion hoses, in general, tend to develop fewer kinks than their traditional counterparts. In my experience, knots are a more common problem. To avoid this issue, lay your empty hose down in a neat coil rather than tossing it aside. (Note to self: Do this!)
Since this hose has an attention-getting black color, it’s easy to see in the grass and can help you avoid trips and falls.
6. Giraffe Retractable Garden Hose Reel
When it comes to storing your garden hose in between uses, you’ve got a couple of options:
- Do your best to neatly coil it up, lay it on the ground and hope for the best. (Like we just talked about above!)
- Use a hose reel with a manual-wind turning wheel.
Or you could totally eliminate the hands-on work by using a self-retracting, mounted hose reel!
This hose reel from Giraffe easily mounts to the side of your house or a wooden post. The attached hose has 1/2 inch diameter and is 100 feet long, and you also get a hose nozzle with nine water pressure settings.
One feature that makes this hose reel stand out is the spring-loaded retraction mechanism. Many other hose reels use a battery, which tends to wear out quickly and be costly to replace.
To use the hose, gently pull it from the reel. The reel will automatically lock the hose in place when you stop pulling it, and you can simply pull it again to get more length if you need to.
Once you’ve finished watering, make sure to release all the water in the hose, then pull the hose again to activate the retraction. Gently guide the hose back into the reel, and you’re done!
7. Bojecher 14-Pocket Garden Apron
How often do you find yourself reaching for your small hand tools? Or, maybe a little more accurately, how often do you find yourself making another trip to your storage area to grab the tool you need?
Making multiple trips back and forth from the garden can be tiring and interrupt your momentum. Bojecher’s garden apron has 14 pockets that provide plenty of space for keeping your small tools within easy reach.
Quick adjustability and a simple closure system are two features that really make this apron senior-friendly.
The neck strap has a slider for adjusting the apron length to your liking. The waist strap reaches behind your back and buckles on one side, and it’s adjustable up to 47 inches.
This apron is made from water-resistant Oxford cloth, so it can stand up to dirt and moisture. The edges are also fully enclosed for comfort and durability.
If you like the idea of a wearable tool holder but want a little less bulk, consider a smaller garden tool belt. We’ve reviewed some of the best gardening tool belts that we could find. Check it out!
8. Martha Stewart Non-Slip Garden Gloves
While most gardeners appreciate having a good pair of gloves, they can be especially helpful gardening tools for seniors.
This 2-pack of gloves from Martha Stewart are made from soft, breathable fabric for excellent comfort.
Thanks to a non-slip coating on the palms and fingers, these gloves can help you get a better grip on small or slippery items. This can be especially helpful if you have arthritis or have lost some hand strength over the years.
As part of the aging process, your skin may become thinner and more sensitive to natural or chemical substances. These gloves reach a little higher up your arm than many other glove brands, protecting your wrists and lower forearms.
Also, the long cuffs help your gloves stay in place better rather than slipping down.
9. Radius Garden Pro-Lite Shovel
A shovel is indispensable in the garden, but many options out there are heavy and unwieldy. As part of Radius Garden’s line of Pro-Lite tools, this shovel combines thoughtful design and lightweight materials.
Weighing in at just 4.5 pounds, this shovel is ideal if you have weakness in your arms or hands. Also, it won’t add too much extra weight to your garden cart.
The carbon steel blade has a specialized cupped design that easily cuts through even stony or clay soil. The upper step ledge is also extra-wide and easy to set your foot on, so you can get more leverage with each scoop.
At first glance, the rounded handle on this shovel looks a bit odd. But many gardeners say that once you get used to the grip, it’s incredibly comfortable and easy on your hands.
The top of the handle also has padding, which you may greatly appreciate if you have arthritis.
10. Yaheetech Wood Elevated Garden Bed
Even if you use a wheelchair or you’re not able to bend down easily, that doesn’t mean your gardening days are over. With this elevated garden bed from Yaheetech, you can bring the soil and plants up to your level!
This planter stands 30 inches tall, so you can care for your plants without straining your back, hips or knees.
At 10.8 inches deep, the planter box easily accommodates various types of plants. Here are just a few options:
- Annual flowers
- Lettuces and greens
- Determinate tomato varieties (cherry tomatoes work best)
- Short varieties of root vegetables
- Green beans (bush varieties)
This garden bed is made of untreated 100% fir wood, which has natural anti-rot properties. If you wish, you can further extend your elevated bed’s lifespan by adding a liner.
11. Gorilla Carts Dump Cart
Gardening sometimes requires moving heavy materials, like dirt, rocks or mulch. Jobs like these can be exhausting for anyone!
Especially as a senior, it’s best to recruit a little help from a friend or loved one if you can. For the times when that’s not possible, this dump cart from Gorilla Carts is another great way to make heavy jobs more manageable.
(Even if you do have someone else to help, they’ll probably appreciate using this dump cart too!)
As opposed to a regular wheelbarrow that has just one wheel, this cart has four for extra stability and control. No more struggling to balance a heavy load on the way to your worksite!
Large, air-filled wheels roll over bumpy terrain easily, and the padded pull handle makes it easy to steer.
Best of all, the bin has a hinge on the back end that tips the bin upward to dump the load onto the ground. You’ll still need a shovel or rake for spreading and smoothing, but you won’t need to do any scooping from the cart bin.
And while four wheels are awesome, a two wheel wheelbarrow is another good option.
12. SuperHandy Electric Wheelbarrow
Does your garden sit on a hill, or do you have to cross sloping ground to reach it? If so, even the best-designed manual carts can still leave older muscles and joints stressed and sore.
So why not go electric?
This wheelbarrow can haul up to 330 pounds, and it easily goes up hills. All you’ll have to do is hold the handlebars and provide some guidance.
When you reach your destination, the bin easily tips forward to empty your load of soil or mulch on the ground.
The wheelbarrow’s power source is a rechargeable 12-volt battery that typically lasts up to five hours per charge. A variable setting also lets you choose your preferred forward or backward speed.
13. Lenikis Sun Hat with Neck Flap
Although sunlight brings several health benefits, it’s only safe in controlled doses. This is true for people of any age, but as a senior, your skin and eyes may be extra sensitive to the sun’s rays.
Using a good sunscreen can be helpful, but nothing beats the shade and protection of a well-designed sun hat.
This hat from Lenikis uses thin, tightly-woven polyester to provide SPF 50 protection that blocks 98% of UV rays. An adjustable chin strap lets you customize the fit to keep your hat in place regardless of the day’s garden agenda.
The material is ultra-light, so it won’t trap heat or feel heavy on your head. The wide front brim shades your face, and a breathable rear flap protects your neck without feeling stifling.
If you do work up a sweat in the garden, the material dries quickly, leaving you feeling comfortable for the next task.
14. Earthwise Corded Electric Tiller/Cultivator
Working the soil is a critical component of gardening, but full-size tillers can be too powerful or heavy for many seniors to use comfortably.
So does that mean you’re restricted to small-container gardening? No! This little tiller from Earthwise weighs just 15 pounds, is easy to handle and delivers a surprising amount of power.
Four strong tines work the soil up to 8 inches deep and about 11 inches wide. If you’re working with raised beds or small to medium-sized in-ground gardens, this small tiller gets the job done!
You can also forget about filling a tank with gas or pulling a cord to start the engine. This tiller is fully electric, and you simply pull a lever to turn it on.
Note: An extension cord is not included, and always be aware of the cord’s location while using the tiller.
15. ProPlugger 5-in-1 Lawn and Garden Tool
Traditionally, you’ve had no choice but to get down on your knees for some garden jobs, like digging multiple small holes. As you get older, those jobs may start to seem like they require more effort than they’re worth.
The ProPlugger lets you cut uniform holes in dirt and most types of grasses while you stand upright. If you have a bad back, this could be a lifesaver!
Standing just over 34 inches tall, the ProPlugger comes with three depth rings that allow you to make 2-inch, 4-inch or 6-inch deep holes.
This handy tool eliminates the need for you to kneel down for these five jobs:
- Plant bulbs
- Take a plug of soil for testing
- Aerate your lawn
- Remove weeds
- Planting small seedlings
To use the ProPlugger, place it in the area you want to make a hole. Step on the foot bar, press down and twist. After making the hole, pull the ProPlugger out of the ground and shake the plug out. Done!
Another plus: The ProPlugger is an American-made product!
As some outdoor jobs get a little harder with age, you may have to make a few adjustments to your gardening routine. Fortunately, there is a wealth of clever tools out there that make gardening for the elderly and handicapped easier and safer.
Use this list of tool suggestions to help you find the right ones for your needs, and then go out and enjoy your time in the garden!
We want to know what you think! Did any of the tools on our list surprise you? Do you have any other tools to add? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!