Adaptive Gardening Tools

March 24, 2021
Andrea on a kneeler pad in the garden

Wisteria plant blooming with greenhouse in backgroundThis time of year always makes me want to step outside and get closer to nature. The bright sunlight, crisp air, and blossoming plants that are abundant during spring inspire me to dig in the dirt and plant new plants! At the Sunflower Hill Garden, we love to make gardening fun and accessible to all. One of our goals is for anyone who comes to our garden to always want to come back! Teacher Abby and I strive to make gardening tasks easy and accessible to every person and all skill levels. One of the ways we accomplish this is by providing a variety of tools for participants to choose from. Not only do we help participants identify the best tools for the job, we help them select the best tool for their unique ability level. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is helping people find new ways to interact in the garden and accomplish tasks they may never have thought possible! Having the right tool to make gardening accessible and fun enables everyone to enjoy the best of every season!

Here are several useful, sturdy, and effective gardening tools we use to make gardening more approachable and safer for all.

The Fiskars Soft Grip Bypass Pruner is known for maximizing leverage to reduce hand fatigue. It’s been recommended by the Arthritis Foundation because it’s so easy to use! These pruners are handy garden tools that can be used for a variety of common garden tasks. They are sturdy enough to harvest broccoli, kale and chard, fruit and a myriad of other larger produce. In addition, you can prune bushes, small tree branches and cut irrigation lines. Think of them as a strong, robust pair of scissors used for cutting through many different types of vegetation. They are a must have for any home gardener.

Pruner Alternative
If traditional pruners aren’t a good fit, you can try these alternative garden pruners. These lightweight loop scissors are easy-to-manipulate, self-opening and have rounded tips. They work well when pruning soft vegetation and are perfect for harvesting salad greens, arugula, snap peas, green beans, cilantro, parsley, basil, and flowers.

Small Shovel
Program participant using a hori-hori tool to dig in a raised garden bedThis tool is called a Hori Hori. Hori-Hori is Japanese for “dig-dig”, and that’s just what this shovel/knife was designed to do! Beveled for shoveling and lightly serrated for sawing, it can be used to dig, weed, transplant, divide perennials and more. It has a comfortable handle with thumb rest and also sometimes includes a handy, engraved ruler on the blade for measured spacing when planting.

Ergonomic Cultivators
Similar to a straight handled garden trowel, these ergonomic cultivators reduce strain on your wrists, are lightweight yet sturdy, and make it easier to push and pull. In addition, they are precision tools that help gardeners work in tight areas such as small raised beds and garden pots. Ergonomic cultivators work great for scratching up small weeds, breaking the soil surface to prepare for planting seeds, mixing in soil amendments (like compost, bone meal or other natural fertilizers) and more!

Kneeler Pads
Two people working in garden on kneeler padsA little cushioning can go a long way toward making gardening more enjoyable and less painful. It can protect your skin or clothing from potentially wet ground, dirt or mud, and even rocks, twigs, or other potential skin irritants. Kneeler pads come in a lot of different styles, colors, and thicknesses. They are lightweight, easy to transport, and can easily be stacked if a thicker padding is what you desire. A kneeling pad is another important tool that Sunflower Hill makes available for participants and volunteers to ensure their time in the garden is comfortable and enjoyable.

Knee Pads
If I have a lot of weeding to do, these knee pads go a long way in protecting and preventing sore knees. I love knee pads and like to use them when I’m working in an area where there is a lot of gravel or rocks. I prefer knee pads over kneelers because they attach easily to my knees using the handy Velcro straps. This feature means I don’t have to fuss with picking up and positioning a kneeler every time I move in the garden, freeing my hands up for other important tasks.

Garden Kneeler & Seat
Two people working in garden. One is on kneeler pad. The other is sitting in garden kneeler seat.If a basic kneeling pad doesn’t quite meet your needs, this garden kneeler and seat is another great option. It provides added comfort, sturdy support, and is reversible to meet a variety of gardening needs. Not only will this cushion sore knees as you work, the handles on the sides offer great stability and let you use upper body strength to get up and down safely. We use these quite frequently in the Sunflower Hill Garden. Sometimes our participants and volunteers can’t or prefer not to do a lot of bending, or their backs get sore easily. Its reversible design allows you to kneel when working down low, closer to the ground, or sit when working at a raised bed or alongside someone else. Because these kneelers are light, collapsible and allow for easy sitting in between garden rows, people can plant, prune, harvest, and weed a lot more comfortably. One of my favorite features is that it’s collapsible! This makes it easy to fold down flat for convenient carrying and storage.


Garden Scoot
If kneeling in the garden isn’t a great option for you, and your space allows, another wonderful option for assisted seating is a garden scoot! This is ideal for anyone with back problems or those who struggle getting low to the ground. The garden scoot allows you to work from a seated position, thus easing strain on your back and knees. The handle also acts as a sturdy handhold, and can be locked in place. The heavy-duty garden scoot includes sturdy, air-filled tires and a swiveling, height-adjustable seat. It also features a back basket to hold plants, tools, or a water-bottle, and beneath the seat is a tray where other supplies can be stored conveniently.


With such a wide variety of helpful gardening tools available, I hope you find one that enables you to get outside, get close to nature, and enjoy the beautiful spring weather! Happy gardening!


Story by: Andrea del Rio, Garden Coordinator
Contributing Writer: Rachel Clark, Communications Manager

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