Stretching getting ready to garden
A little bit of planning before any garden task can make a big difference. From the right tools to warming up, find tips to reduce possible stresses and strains.
  • Advanced planning can reduce the chance of any strain or stress. This allows you to enjoy gardening activities in comfort
  • Planning a task can help you feel confident you can successfully do it
  • Enjoy taking time to think about what you want to do in your garden, and how best to go about it
Secateurs and other tools laid out
Secateurs and other tools laid out

When gardening is comfortable to do, it can become even more enjoyable. Before getting going, think about:

  • Your garden design. Can you easily get around and carry out tasks? You may like to read our guide to accessible garden design for ideas. For example, adding raised beds, containers or elevated planters may be easier than ground level borders
  • If you have recent sight loss, you may want to get reacquainted with your garden before starting new activities. Walk around it at different times of the day until you are comfortable with the layout.
  • Where you need to be to carry out activities. For example, for seated activities like sowing seeds or potting up plants, you may want a table outside that's near the house
  • Weather. A cold day may call for thicker gardening gloves. Or, you may prefer to plan indoor activities

Check you have everything you need before you begin and that it's suited for you:

  • You could make a checklist of tools and equipment you will need. Many of our Get Gardening guides have a 'what you need' section to help you
  • Tools don't need to be expensive. Often, simple items will do the trick. You may find some specialist or adapted tools make some tasks easier, such as a kneeler seat with handles or lightweight tools. Read our guide to specialist and adapted tools for extra help
  • Before buying any new tools, try them for size, weight and ease of use. Well balanced, lightweight tools help prevent stresses and strains in your hands and arms
  • Gather together the tools and equipment you need and bring them to where you will be working. This will avoid trips back and forth to the shed or garage. Bags, buckets, garden carts and wheelbarrows are helpful for moving things

One simple thing I find important is remembering to tie my hair back! It makes such a difference when gardening, otherwise I have to keep pushing my hair away from my face.

Lizzie, home gardener

Getting your body ready can be as important as having the right tools!

  • When it comes to gardening, like any physical activity, starting slowly is important
  • It may help to ease yourself into gardening with low-intensity activities such as seed sowing, pricking out seedlings and pruning. Especially if you have had a period of being fairly inactive
  • Warm up with some simple bending and stretching exercises to loosen up your muscles. You could take a short walk around the garden as part of your warm up
  • If you aren’t used to digging, raking, weeding and mowing, go easy to begin with and listen to your body
  • Once you have finished gardening, it's a good idea to warm down with a few more stretches. Your muscles will thank you for it!

I stretch for 25minutes each morning. My routine includes hand and finger mobility to help my grip and shoulder exercises.

Survey respondent, gardener with arthritis

Thinking about how you will use your time in the garden can help make it more enjoyable and comfortable:

  • We all garden differently. Sticking to one gardening task at a time can help you stay focused. But, it is also good to vary activities. As a rough guide, spend around 20 minutes on a task before you switch to something else or take a break
  • If possible, try not to keep your body in one position for too long
  • Think about the order you do tasks in. For example, weed before watering or clear beds before you mow
  • Plan to take plenty of breaks. Depending on the weather, have a warm or cold drink when you rest – and maybe a snack!
  • Listen to your body, it’s so easy to get carried away in the garden! Stop work before you get too tired. It may help to set a timer

I have some slow days with sudden loss of energy. There's the old saying that gardens need a good dose of looking at and some days, that's all I do to them.

Mike, Thrive volunteer
A cup of tea and open book outside
A cup of tea and open book outside

Top tip

When planning a gardening task, if any job seems too much, ask a friend or professional for help. Leave the enjoyable jobs for yourself!

You are now ready to enjoy your garden space and opportunities for wellbeing it provides!

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