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In short, whether you have a disability or not, some common sense, and perfect tools can make all the difference and let you enjoy your garden and gardening every month of the year.
1. Think about how far you can reach, whether or not you can kneel, twist your torso, transfer to another seat, need to stand or sit, and whether you can grab tools with ease. Think how you do things around the house and transfer those actions to the outside environment. There are some great tools on the market, some that extend, others that twist in the hand, or add attachments to every day tools so that you have full control.
2. If you find seeds fiddly, then use a push button seed sower/dispenser. With an ergonomic design it fits within the hand. You just load the syringe-like dispenser with your favourite seeds (one type at a time, unless you are going for a mixed display) and then you can accurately start sowing with the push of the button, safe in the knowledge that they are going exactly where you want them. Ideal for pots, peat-free Jiffy 7s and modular cell trays.
3. I recommend that when buying a new tool that you try it out in the garden centre of store, walk or stroll around with it, get to know its weight, how it feels in the hand(s), does it do more than one task, can you grip it easily and is it comfortable to use. If you tick yes to all or nearly all of these, then the tool will probably work for you. In particular, I like lightweight, long handled, long bladed pruners/shears which can be used to cut back perennials, to cut grasses and to trim hedges.
4. Every gardener should have a lightweight portable stool that you can take around with you, so that you can sit down whenever you want. I also have a really handy tool caddy on wheels, which I push around the garden from my wheelchair. All of the tools that I need for the day are in the caddy, along with sunscreen, a bottle of water and a hat. Being outside is great for us, but we must remember to look after our skin. Long sleeves also offer some protection against the sun. When outside, time seems to disappear, so slap on the sunscreen every time you reach for another tool.
5. If you have problems reaching, or just need a little help then ‘cut-and-hold’ flower pruners are ideal. With their long reach handle, this lightweight tool is ideal for deadheading and cutting stems from high growing or difficult to reach plants. Its mechanism holds onto the stem or flower head that’s been cut, so it can be put straight into a container rather than falling to the ground. There is a long version at 1000mm with a handle that rotates 360 degrees. I use this in my own garden.
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