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Special Garden Tools Help the Physically Challenged

By Margaret Page Culver, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, Master Gardener, Denver County

Avid gardeners who are challenged by a myriad of physical problems now can choose from a wide variety of therapeutic tools to ease the aches and pains that come with gardening. Many of these tools are readily available locally and by mail order.

If you're unfamiliar with the idea of therapeutic gardening tools, visit the Denver Botanic Gardens (DBG) Center for Horticultural Therapy. Ergonomically designed garden tools are permanently on display at the Morrison Center, located across the street from DBG's main entrance on 11th and York. Staff members are willing to answer questions. Raised gardening beds (shown above), outside the building, further help gardeners envision the possibilities. Various height beds are suited for different people and garden spaces. onehanded-snips  (21760 bytes)

Several Denver area stores, including Birdsall and Company, carry garden tools for special needs. Oscillating hoes, which relieve pressure on the back, are helpful to persons with diminished strength and endurance. They work through a push and pull movement from a standing, not crouching, position. One-handed flower snips (left) are designed for persons with bending difficulties or impaired mobility. The tool neatly holds stems after cutting so flowers don't drop to the ground.ratcheting-pruner (24387 bytes)

Birdsall also carries ratcheting pruners (right) and loppers. It takes little pressure to cut through branches with these tools that magnify and conserve the force applied. Any gardener who hastrigger grip trowel (29296 bytes) ever suffered a bruised palm from pruning will appreciate these tools.

Look to Smith and Hawken for oscillating hoes as well as long-handled pruners for persons who experience bending difficulty or mobility impairment. These longer-than-average tools promote good balance for a safe pruning experience. This type of pruner can be useful to persons in wheelchairs.

Also shop Smith and Hawken for trigger-grip trowels (left), forks and cultivator forks designed to aid persons with limited grasping ability or diminished strength and endurance.

Youcan Toocan carries a wide variety of products for the disabled, all designed to promote independent living at home. Among these are a number of gardenErgonomic garden tool (20678 bytes) products that can enable disabled and older persons to continue horticultural activities. The Good Grips garden tools brand feature rubber grips (left) to help persons with swollen or deteriorating joints of the hand. Ergonomic garden tools (right), such as small hoes, cultivators and spades, are engineered to allow use of elbow joint strength rather than that of the hand or wrist.

Not Stooped Garden Tools is an on-line site "Dedicated to Developing Garden Tools that Require Less Stooping, Kneeling,rubber grip (21524 bytes) Squatting and Crawling During Garden and Lawn Maintenance".

Also browse the reachers, designed to pick up dropped garden tools or plant debris. Other items include foam tubing that can be cut to length and applied to tools for a better grip. The "Uniturner" is an aid for turning on outdoor faucets.

You also can find tools with soft, rubber grips at many neighborhood stores. These tools will help persons suffering from arthritis or degenerative bone diseases. In addition, ask about therapeutic tools. Increasingly, they are stocked by local garden centers.


  • Birdsall and Co. - 1540 S. Broadway, 303-722-2535.
  • Smith and Hawken - 268 Detroit, 303-329-6938.
  • Youcan Toocan - 2223 S. Monaco Parkway, 303-759-9525.
  • Gardener's Supply Co. - 128 Intervale Rd., Burlington, VT 05401. Phone 1-800-863-1700, www.gardeners.com.
  • Not Stooped Garden Tools - P.O. Box 40185, Denver, CO 80204-0185. Phone 303-837-8490, email email@notstooped.com

Photos: Judy Sedbrook

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Date last revised: 01/05/2010