Dealing with a garden can be made harder if you have a disability, chronic health condition or just as you become older but it doesn’t mean that you can’t do any gardening, it maybe just means changing how and how often you do and also changing the planting.
I love gardening, my mum has always been an avid gardener and I learnt from her, but as my health has declined, it has become harder.
My wife cuts the lawn and I take care of the borders and plants and so we have more shrubs and also lots of ground covering plants that help to reduce weeds and I mean reduce not eliminate.
I now spend 30 minutes every now and then weeding and that means bum shuffling about dragging a small weed bin with me and my wife then empties that into the main garden bin.
It is about pacing, about listening to your body and dividing the jobs up and tackling them over months rather than a day.
It also means having to relax and stop worrying, it doesn’t matter if the borders aren’t pristine and I actually have now grown to love the more wild look of our big border.
The big border offers the biggest challenge, I can’t just step in and weed and so I have to belly crawl under the large black elder and dogwood into the middle where its sparse and weed from there.
It is important to remember to wear a hat as the sun can increase fatigue and take a bottle of water in with you, I take my Sho Bottle that also keeps the water cool.
You can also now get garden tools that are easier to use, our secateurs the Fiskars PowerGear P94 pruners have a gear system that means you need less effort to prune and this is great if you have arthritis in your hands.
It also means weighing up if the task you want to do is worth the payback, will it cause extra pain, fatigue or flare up of symptoms that will cause problems?
For me it is!
I am prepared to suffer a couple of days with higher pain and fatigue to get some weeding done, I enjoy gardening and I also find it great for my mental health and I am happy when I am in the middle of the border sweaaring at the Bindweed that is trying to strangle our shrubs.
It is a good idea though to set a timer on a watch or have someone tell you when you have been going for too long, I can lose track of time and I also don’t realise that it’s too much. It is then I look up to see my wife stood there, hands on hips and giving me ‘the look’.
When pain rises, adrenaline is released and this helps us to push on thinking we are okay, but when we stop, it’s not long before our body then starts telling us that it was too much.
I find that I can handle a flare up when I know the reason was worth it and the garden is worth it!
If it is still too much, contact some local charities to see if there is someone local to you who offers free gardening to help people with disabilities.