Throughout my gardening/landscaping career, I’ve spoken with a good number of senior citizens striving to manage their garden with back ache or with serious disabilities.
And what was their most common complaint when it came to gardening? Chronic or acute lower back pain issues and lack of ergonomic gardening tools.
Based on these experiences, I decided to create a must-have list of 5 gardening tools for elderly accompanied by a comprehensive guide on gardening with a bad back.
You’ll find the gardening tools for seniors list in the beginning and the needs of the elderly when gardening how-to in the end.
Hope my years of practice will be to your aid. Happy reading!
Fiskars Ergo D-handle
✔️ Stands the test of time
✔️ Nearly flat shape makes it easy to push into soil
✔️ Ergonomic handlebar
✔️ Still lightweight at 4.12 lbs
Fiskars PowerGear2 Pruner
✔️ Inflict 3x more power than a regular pruner
✔️ Approved by Arthritis Foundation
❌ Some will find the rotating handle a bit awkward
Mac Sports Wagon
✔️ 22.5 pounds, lightweight construction
✔️ Can hold up to 150 lbs
✔️ Easily ride soil, mulch, gravel or patio
✔️ Fold it away when not needed
Fiskars 25-inch PowerGear Bypass Lopper
✔️ Can withstand anything for years
✔️ Feels easy and smooth to cut woody branches
✔️ Still lightweight at 2.2 lbs
Greenworks 17” Cordless
✔️ Lightweight construction
✔️ Battery poweered – 1 charge – 7000 sq. feet
✔️ Powerful motor to cut 1 foot grass easily
Best Spade for Elderly: Fiskars Ergo D-handle
One of the best long handled garden tools for elderly is the Fiskars Ergo D-handle. I’ve used this digging shovel for the past 11 years and I can honestly state: ergonomic gardening starts with the Ergo D-handle.
Although I must admit it broke 3 times, but I wasn’t an occasional gardener. We had tortured this little baby on a daily basis and I’d never found a true competitor among the vast line of spades. Needless to say, I always returned to my baby and bought another when it cracked.
Here’s how a Fiskars light digging spade looks after 4 years of total destruction (root killing, shoveling, concreting and peeling the upper grass layer):
The magic of this shovel lies in three aspects.
The first is the shape of the spade. If you compare the form of the head with a common shovel or spade, there’s a big difference.
Fiskars Ergo D-handle’s head is nearly flat, whereas a common shovel usually comes with a bent head.
With this nearly-flat spade, you’ll notice instantly how easy it is to dig it into the soil. Much to my surprise, manufacturers still haven’t realized how a bent head makes the digger’s job so difficult.
The second benefit is the shape and length of the ergonomic handlebar. If you inspect the images, you’ll spot that slight curve in it, the length itself and the D-handle on the end. These three combined let you turn out the soil much easier compared to a common spade, putting the least stress as possible on your lower back.
The third is weight. With 4.12 lbs, we truly consider this shovel one of the lightest in weight among shovels and spades on the market.
And before you think that this Fiskars digging spade comes with a horrible price tag, you’re wrong. The inviting price tag makes it worth buying even when its cracked after years. Give it a shot and save your back.
Pruners for arthritic hands: Fiskars PowerGear2 pruner
Among Fiskars pruning shears the PowerGear2 is king without doubt, and cannot miss from the list of gardening tools for seniors.
With the PowerGear2 pruner you can inflict 3x more power with every single cut, compared to a regular bypass pruner. The basic concept of the PowerGear2 is the built-in gear into the handle.
As you press the upper handle against the bottom one, you’ll notice that the upper one slightly rotates in your palm wreaking triple the force you could with a regular pruner. Here’s how it looks like in operation:
This means that you can prune all day along without straining your tendons in your hand, because pruning feels smooth even when cutting ¾” woody branches.
There’s a slight drawback with the Fiskars PowerGear2 pruner. Although you’ll inflict much bigger force with less effort some users (including my colleagues) simply cannot get used to the PowerGear rotating handle system. I could easily adapt to it, but not everyone does.
If you can bear with this mechanism, it’ll be a perfect pruners for arthritic hands.
Note: The PowerGear system is officially approved by the Arthritis Foundation.
Gardening trolley for the elderly: Mac Sports wagon
Oh I forgot the lopper in the other end of the garden. And the pruner in the upper end. Darn it! Why not take all the tools with you in a convenient way? Probably the best gardening trolley for the elderly is Mac Sports’ Folding Utility Wagon.
Weighing only 22.5 pounds but holding up to 150 pounds is without doubt a great tradeoff all made possible by the heavy duty framing.
Apart from weight, the biggest advantage of this trolley is easy maneuvering thanks to the rotating wheels designed to ride lawn, mulch, soil, sand, gravel or patio.
If these weren’t enough the best gardening trolley for the elderly, the Mac Sports wagon has an impeccable capacity of 32.5” x 17.5” x 10.5” meaning that you can easily fit a shovel, a lopper, a rake in it. It serves good as well for collecting cut grass or leaves which you can transport to the compost.
If not in use, you can simply fold it away into your garage, or perhaps fit in to the back of your car.
Any drawbacks? No I can’t really think of. For such a reasonable price, this little garden trolley is bargain.
Ergonomic lopper: Fiskars 25-Inch PowerGear Bypass Lopper
Tired of sawing? Then use a Fiskars PowerGear lopper.
To be honest, I don’t use Fiskars products, because I’m a Fiskars fan. I don’t really care about the name. But these tools stood my test of time. Again, I used the PowerGear (and PowerGear2) loppers for 10 years on a daily basis, cutting branches way more thicker and drier than the prescribed one.
So what are the benefits of a Fiskars lopper? First, it feels so smooth to cut through a branch whether it’s a regular or a dried one.
Secondly, the 25-inch handle is long enough to reach the top of higher hedges and the lower branches of trees without the need of using a ladder.
The only drawback I can mention here is weight. Holding 2.2 pounds isn’t really fun, but since it takes half the time to cut the branches with a PowerGear Bypass Lopper, I’d still recommend, even for seniors to give it a shot. You won’t regret it.
Since I tried a lot of professional loppers, (Gardena, Wolf Garten, etc.) I know what it takes to be a really good lopper even on the long term. I simply cannot compare any brands’ lopper to the Fiskars PowerGear Bypass Lopper.
Best lawn mower for elderly: Greenworks 17” Cordless
I chose the Greenworks 17” to be on my Gardening tools for Elderly people for a good reason. Furthemore, I’ve nominated it as the Best Lawn Mower for Elderly as well, because I think it has no real challenger out there.
The biggest benefit using the Greenworks 17” Cordless mower is its power combined with lightweight construction. It’s nearly as lightweight as an electric mower.
Beyond usability, another selling point of this cordless mower is battery power. You’ll be able to mow 7000 sq. feet at a charge, and you’re all good for 35-40 minutes.
Although batteries usually take up several hours to recharge, the Greenworks excels in this as well: it takes no more than 60 minutes to fully recharge. If you want to finish quicker, you can buy an additional battery pack and switch over to it, when the other is depleted.
The motor is powerful enough to easily cut through a 1 foot medium density grass layer which I consider more than adequate compared to the price range it sits.
One more important benefit here is the single lever height setting with 5 different height positions. It’s more than useful for back pain sufferers and seniors because you’ll need to kneel down only once to set the proper cutting height.
With such lightweight design powerful motor and great battery specs, the Greenworks 17” is the winner among the best lawn mower for elderly without doubt.
Gardening seat for elderly: Step2 Garden Seat/Kneeler
The reason why I chose the Step2 as the best gardening seat for elderly because of durability and weight.
If you dig a bit deeper into this market you’ll see that there are a lot of mediocre options which probably won’t support a lot of people’s weight. Let alone the ones who want to lose weight by doing some garden work but need to sit a lot because of their knees.
The Step 2 is a great solution for them, and for every senior citizen.
It weighs only 6.1 lbs and offers a good grip for portability thanks to the molded-in handles on top.
On the other hand, this little fellow can withstand 250 lbs of weight securely without fearing of falling over.
It’s got plenty of space for your bottom making weeding as comfortable as possible.
Speaking of which: if you want to get closer to the ground, just flip the Step2 over and it becomes a soft-padded kneeler. The kneeling pad is attached to the bottom of the seat, so you won’t ever need to take it with you besides the seat itself.
To sum up things: the Step2 Garden Seat is a durable portable and reasonably priced solution which I can heartily recommend for any elderly person who enjoys landscaping jobs.
How to: Gardening with a Bad Back / Elderly Gardening
Gardening can be a tough thing not even for seniors but for me as well. Throughout my years of landscape design I noticed that if I don’t pay attention to a couple of things, I’ll be ruined at the end of the day.
Never lift with a bent back – I can’t stress this enough. Whatever you’re lifting, don’t do it with your back bent, even if it’s a light object. The most useful advice I can give here is to bend your knees (just watch how kids do lift, and you’ll realize) when getting something up from the ground. Keep your lower back as straight as possible at all times, but especially when lifting.
Warm up before work – This might sound funny but it has grown to be my second rule of thumb when it comes to gardening with a bad back. Stretch your back, knees, do some squats and you’ve done a lot to your health, believe me.
Always ask for help – Even I (being in my 30s) ask for help most of the times when lifting something I’m unsure of. A lawn mower, for example. My colleagues used to call me a weakling but to be honest, I had never regretted being a rabbit at times. It did save my back from strains indeed.
Rest when needed – Gardening, even with back saving tools is tough. What I’ve learnt going from garden to garden is that I need rest, regardless how urgent the job is. We always took the time to have a small chat, or to consume our lunch in peace. You’ll regain a lot of strength with these chillout sessions, believe me.