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Tools for Gardeners with Bad Backs


I mentioned last week that I’ve had back issues and had to find new ways to take care of my garden raised beds and those not raised. Click here to see pictures. I’ve always bent from the waist, either sitting or standing to weed and plant. I can’t do that anymore. As a result, I’ve been prowling the garden tools sections of Home Depot and other garden shops for tools that will make digging weeds easier while standing erect or sitting (without bending) on the edges of the raised beds. Here’s a few that I’ve come up with.


Tools: left to right ((top) Child’s shovel, child’s rake, long-handled weed digger, weed hound, long-handled grass clippers, spatula picker-upper, scuttle hoe

Children’s garden tools:

Rake, shovel, and hoe. These are great for sitting on the edge of the raised beds and reaching across to the other side. No more stretching, straining, and pulling my back muscles.

Long-handled weed digger:

I love this tool! It’s perfect for digging around weeds that the weed hound can’t handle. Just plunge it into the ground near the base of the weed, tip the blade up, and pop up the unwanted plant. Works great on the sloped areas of the garden.

Weed hound:

When I discovered this tool in my own garage, it still had the original packing wired to it. I’ve owned it for many years, but never used it. No need to when I could stoop and bend like a teenager. Now it’s my go-to tool for digging up things like dandelions and low spreading purslane and chickweeds. Single weeds come up better than a mass of weeds. I just position it on the base of the weed, step on the lower handle, hold the plunger up and pull. Most weeds come up, root and leaves, with one try. It is a bit heavy to handle and usually takes out a plug of dirt along with the weed.

Extra-long hand edgers:

I’ve always avoided loud power tools, favoring the old-fashioned, quiet method. I like to hear the birds singing while I garden. So when edging the grass, this is my trimming go-to tool. The length allows you to stand and trim. The head swivels so you can angle the cut.

Spatula picker-upper:

When I first hurt my back, stretching to reach an upper shelf shot pain into my hip. I started using long-handled barbeque tongs to reach into the washer to get out the laundry. Then a friend suggested I buy a handy-dandy reacher. I did, but it wasn’t great at picking up garden trash. The hubby tried to figure out a way to add paddles onto the reacher, but couldn’t. Then we found a reacher in the garden section of Home Depot that had suction cups attached with screws. We snapped that puppy up. Hubby fastened the spatulas from a barbeque tool onto the new reacher. This thing works like a charm. Last week he trimmed my phlox, and I was able to scoop up big heaps into the trash can.


Close-up of spatula picker-upper and scuffle hoe

Scuffle hoe:

I first saw this tool being used at Disney World on one of my trips during the Flower and Garden show. A Disney employee was cutting the tops of low-growing weeds through the mulch. No back-breaking slamming of the hoe blade on the ground, just a gentle back and forth action. I haven’t used this yet, since most of my current weeds are thick and nearly half a foot high. But the minute I saw it this summer, I had to have it!


Tools( bottom left to right) extra-large dustpan, long-handled pruners, pointed hoe, child’s hoe.

Extra-large dustpan:

Since I can’t bend to pick up garden waste, if I have more than a couple of pieces, I’ve been raking it into piles and sweeping it into this large dustpan. The contents of about 3-4 dustpans fills my collapsible trash can.

Long-handled pruners:

I have a 20-foot section of ground evergreens that constantly grows over the front steps and driveway. Periodically, I have to trim them, which I’ve always done sitting on a stool. Can’t do that anymore since it kills my back. Now, I can trim standing up, since these trimmers are long enough for me to reach the ground. I’m short, so this works. If you’re taller than 5’2” you’d probably have to stoop to reach ground level. One of the drawbacks to these trimmers, however, is their weight. I need to take rest frequent breaks. Guess I need to start pumping iron.

Pointed hoe:

Because of the sharp tip on this hoe it’s great for tight places and stubborn weeds. Honestly, I never used a hoe before I hurt my back. Now at least one hoe goes into the garden with me on every weed digging excursion.

Long-handled trowel: (not shown)

Sometimes you need a tiny shovel and this fits the bill. It’s perfect for digging smaller holes to plant your flat of annuals. A couple of steps on the edge of the trowel and you have a mini hole.


Now I’ve shown you what’s in my garden tool shed. What’s your favorite garden tool? Or favorites? After all, every gardener needs more than one tool in the shed.