Tools are being redesigned for aging gardeners

Published: Sunday, Oct. 21 2012 3:00 p.m. MDT

Like it or not, gardening can be a lot of work.

Preparing soil, pruning trees and shrubs, removing weeds and many other garden techniques are physically strenuous.

As the baby boomers age, many still want to engage in what is America's No. 1 outdoor leisure activity. Recognizing that the population is aging but gardening is still a desirable activity, several companies have started producing gardening tools with that in mind.

Regular physical activity reduces the risk of premature death, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure and many other diseases. Gardening is great exercise and also reduces stress while producing beautiful flowers, delicious fruits and healthful vegetables.

Gardening can be very therapeutic. Enjoying a beautiful day outside in fresh air can clear one's mind and soul. It promotes healing of certain physical and emotional challenges under the right circumstances.

There are many tools required or useful for gardening. Many gardening tools are available to make the job easier.

These gardening tools are described in many ways. They are referred to as adaptive tools, handicapped gardening tools or reduced impact tools.

These tools are adapted for people with a variety of special needs, including low physical strength, arthritis, visual impairment or mobility needs.

There are many different adaptations. In some cases, tools with shorter handles provide better leverage for those who are in a wheelchair. Thicker handles may help those with arthritis, as it makes the tool easier to hold. Sometimes just adding a simple foam-cushioned handle makes it much easier for someone to use a garden tool.

The Corona Co. has numerous adapted tools that are designed for ease of use. These include padded handles, handles that extend to increase leverage reach and lightweight aluminum manufacturing construction.

They also have a line of smaller ergonomic eGrip handle designs on several types of tools, plus some long-reach pruners.

Another company that is no stranger to tool design and manufacture is the Fiskars Co. It dates from 1649, making it the oldest company in Finland. Engineers at Fiskars are always hard at work trying to improve their tools, and most of these tools come with a lifetime guarantee.

Fiskars currently has 13 garden tools that carry the Arthritis Foundation Ease-of-Use Commendation.

To earn this designation, the tools must undergo rigorous testing by an independent lab.

These tools are not just for people with arthritis — they're also for people with rheumatism and carpal tunnel syndrome. They can benefit many others who want to reduce the strain on their body while enjoying their hobby.

In an effort to make pruning easier, the company introduced the Fiskars PowerGear tools.

These non-circular gears transfer the energy from a wider range of motion, maximizing force near the middle of the cut where resistance is greatest.

The patented PowerGear multiplies leverage to make cutting up to three times easier than single pivot tools. That means tools can be smaller and lighter than single pivot tools and still have greater cutting power.

In addition to the hand pruners and the loppers, Fiskars also makes PowerGear hedge shears with sculpted handles that fit the hand shape and movement, and they feature nonstick blades that hold sharp edges longer.

Another tool that caught my eye was the Fiskars Uproot Weed & Root Remover.

If you have had a hard time wrenching weeds out of the soil, give this tool a try. The long handle lets you reach the weeds without bending.

There are numerous other techniques to assist in making gardening and yard work easier.

Don't overlook gardening in raised beds, window boxes or containers to allow easier accessibility to vegetables, flowers and other plants.

Vertical gardening requires less space, so it is useful for patios and balconies. Long tool handles extend the reach of those with back pain or limited motion range.

Garden benches, kneeling pads, garden carts and other tools with seating or moving devices make it easier to move people and produce in the garden.

Garden tips

Here are are some helpful sites for more information on gardening tools.

www.coronatoolsusa.com

www.fiskars.com

www.lifewithease.com

www.gripworks.com

If you are looking for a fun pumpkin event, visit the Giant Pumpkin Drop on Oct. 27 at Hee Haw Farms, 150 S. 2000 West in Pleasant Grove. It's not a bird, a plane nor even Superman but a great pumpkin dropping from the sky and smashing the car below. Bring a giant pumpkin to drop and receive a free family pass. For more information, log on to www.utahpumpkingrowers.com/events.html

Larry A. Sagers is a horticulture specialist for the Utah State University Extension Service at Thanksgiving Point.

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