Featured image forAssistive Technology (AT) to Keep You Active in the Garden

Written by PATF’s Outreach Director, Wendy Davis

Gardening can be physically exhausting and difficult work for anyone. For my friend, Deb Habermann, gardening was no longer an option, according to her doctors, after a near deadly bout with COVID.

Deb is a fellow hockey mom. I only mention this because you know she is tough if she is an ice hockey mom! She spent seven weeks on a ventilator after contracting COVID in the spring of 2021. She beat the odds and worked hard to finally return home in July, two months earlier than her healthcare team thought possible.

On oxygen and still working to regain her strength, Deb was told she could not tend her garden. She had suffered 47% damage to one lung from a highly virile pneumonia she contracted while on the ventilator. Bending down to weed was impossible. Well, again I mention she is a hockey mom.

Her husband ordered a portable oxygen machine and Deb jumped online and searched, “gardening tools for old people.” In August, she was back on her riding mower zipping around the lawn and back in the garden tending her big, beautiful garden.

I share Deb’s passion for gardening, so I was excited for her to share with me the amazing gardening tools she found online. After all, I’ve had my share of aches and pains after a day in the garden and I would appreciate some assistive technology in the garden. 

Deb’s top picks for “gardening tools for old people.”

#1 Grandpa’s Weeder – The Original Stand Up Weed Puller 

Deb demonstrated this weed puller for my daughter and me, and I couldn’t wait to give it a try. Between the thistle and dandelions, I end up crawling around the garden on all fours from weed to weed. This device plucks the weed easily from the ground without needing to bend down.

Deb is wearing a blue tie dye tank top, black shorts, and sunglasses, holding a Tiller gardening tool. Caroline, a younger woman, wears a red tank top, jean shorts, and sneakers. Caroline is holding a Tiller gardening tool. They both are standing in the garden.
Caroline (on the right), handles the
Yard Butler Twist Tiller

#2 Yard Butler Twist Tiller – Cultivator and Hand Tiller 

This is on my wish list. Hope my husband and kids read this. We have a weeping birch that drops thousands of seeds every spring that start to sprout on every available inch of open ground. I’ve been using a small rake to loosen them from the ground, but my back can only handle that continuous raking motion for so long. This tiller requires no bending and dragging and should also help work fertilizer into the ground. My blueberry bushes will be thrilled!

Deb is standing, wearing a blue tie dye tank top, black shorts, and sunglasses, holding The Slayer, which is a gardening tool.
Deb uses the Radius Garden Root Slayer Shovel

#3 Radius Garden Root Slayer Shovel 

Deb’s husband, Gary, borrowed her Slayer to dig up a bush that was established under a big tree. If you are a gardener, you know that means fighting your way through a maze of roots to dig it out. This one has also earned a spot on my wish list. I’ve suffered a number of scrapes and bruises from trying to balance and jump on my spade to cut my way through tree roots to dig a hole. Time for the Slayer.

#4 Gardening Gloves with Claws 

I love these gardening gloves! When I’m done with them in the garden, I can wear them with my witch’s hat for Halloween. For those of us with dexterity issues or weakness in our hands, working with a trowel or hand rake can be difficult or painful. These gloves let you work the soil without holding a hand tool and saves your manicure!

#5 Knee Pads 

Let’s face it. Gardeners are happiest when they are down in the dirt so when tools #1 to #3 just aren’t fulfilling your need to get down close and personal with your plants, a good pair of knee pads are essential. I’ve tried a kneeling pad, but I end up losing it after I’ve crawled away in hot pursuit of another weed. Besides online, you can find knee pads in the tool section of your local hardware store or a gardening center.

Funding Your AT for the Garden

Gardening costs can add up quickly, but PATF can help you if you are looking to invest in these tools or others to help keep you active in the garden no matter your age or disability. If you want to buy all these tools, don’t just put them on a credit card. Contact PATF about our loan programs. You can bundle the purchase of all these items and apply for a PATF mini loan which has 0% interest and no fees and save yourself some money for next year’s garden.

In the photos: Deb (in blue tie dye tank top) is weeding while showing Wendy’s daughter, Caroline (red tank top), her gardening tools. Although Deb is gardening in bare feet, we recommend that you wear closed toe shoes while tending to your garden (digging, weeding, planting, etc.), due to health risks.