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Accessible Gardening: Garden Ergonomics PDF Version

What is ergonomics?

a photo of a group of garden tools

Ergonomics looks at how to do a task in the safest and most efficient way. It looks at designing tools, machinery, and anything else involved in a task to fit how a person naturally moves their body. A person's movement is looked at so using tools and completing the task have as little physical impact on the body as possible. In general, ergonomics looks at matching the physical demands of a task with the capabilities of the person doing the task. This match is important because it can lower the risk of injury for the person doing the task; improves the person's work efficiency; and increases the person's satisfaction in doing the task.

More specifically for gardening, ergonomics focuses on choosing the right tool for a particular chore and choosing the tool that best fits the gardener. You know you have picked the right tool for the job when you do not have to adapt the tool. The tool fits you well (matches your height or fits your grip) when it feels comfortable and natural when using.

In this packet, ergonomics refers to doing gardening chores in the safest way possible while lessening the physical impact to your back, knees, wrists, arms and hands.

Ergonomic considerations

Keeping good posture, i.e. keeping your back straight, is a quick and easy way to lessen stress on your tendons and joints. Injuries can be prevented by reducing this stress. Keeping good posture also decreases muscle pain and fatigue.

a photo of a trowel that uses an arm brace for leverage

Ergonomic tools are designed to lessen the physical impacts of gardening on your body. Ergonomic tools offer many benefits to gardeners.

What to look for in ergonomic tools

There are two main positions gardeners are in when gardening. Gardeners are either standing or kneeling.

For tools that you use your feet to do the work, like a shovel, make sure the tool has a 'comfort zone' for foot safety. This zone should position your foot directly over the tool head.

General rules of thumb when selecting ergonomic tools

a photo of a woman using an ergonomic trowel to dig up a bulb

Resources

Find more information on gardening posture and picking the tool that is right for you in these resources:

  • To learn about ergonomics and making gardening more accessible for people with special needs, visit http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu. Type 'ergonomics' to search the site.
  • Making Gardening more Accessible, a book by Charlie Nardozzi

If you would like to talk to someone about accessible gardening, or would like a garden assessment done, call Green Thumbs, Healthy Joints at 800-841-8436.

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