Gardening tips for arthritis


It’s Spring!

Time to get out in the garden. There are so many benefits to gardening, it gets you outdoors, moving and is mood boosting. In fact, getting your hands dirty in the garden has been scientifically proven to increase serotonin levels (happy hormones) through contact with specific soil bacteria! 1

Get started by using the tips below.

How can you protect your joints?


  • Use long handled tools to eliminate bending
  • Use a knee pad but try to minimise the time you spend kneeling
  • Wrap foam or twist rubber bands around handles for a softer, more flexible and larger surface grip or buy tools with larger handles
  • Use a pair of gloves designed to increase your grip and minimise the pressure on painful finger joints
  • Use electric tools, for example instead of using manual shears to prune and trim, opt for an electric pair so you don’t have to go through the repetitive motion of cutting through tough plants
  • Mount a mailbox on your garden fence and store your tools in it

See below for a link to assistive gardening tools.

Completing tasks

  • When watering, use smaller containers with handles to reduce the weight you have to carry
  • Avoid staying in the same position for a long period of time, change tasks to reduce repeated strain on the same joints and release your grip every 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Use a small plastic bucket for weeds or clippings. As it fills faster it will encourage you to stop, change position or rest more frequently
  • Complete tasks differently, for example sitting down to plant seeds so you don’t have to keep bending down or planting pots at a table at waist height
  • Pace yourself by taking regular breaks (use a timer if necessary) and switch between harder and gentler tasks
  • Get help with some of the heavier jobs, recruit your partner, kids, or a friend to help or get a gardener to help you with the more difficult tasks.

Your garden design

  • Select easy-to-care for plants
  • Avoid weeds (and weeding!) by covering your garden beds in bark or black polythene
  • Consider changing the layout of paths and beds for easier access
  • Build elevated plant beds to avoid bending over
  • Prepare the soil so that it’s easier to manage (See the article Protecting your joints when you’re gardening below)

Remember – when you’re gardening, don’t overdo it. Consider spreading tasks over a week or two, only doing a few tasks/area of the garden each day as well as having rest days in between.

Garden assistive tools

Visit here to find information on devices to help make gardening easier or call them on 1300 885 886.

Talk to an occupational therapist

If you need more detailed assistance for your garden, it may help to speak to an occupational therapist. They’ll help you to understand why the task is causing pain and suggest changes to the way you do tasks or tools that will reduce the strain. To find an occupational therapist visit here.

Need more help?

Ask a family member, friend or hire a gardener.  The Australian Government also subsidises the cost of home support services, including gardening. Find a provider that can help you through the My Aged Care website here and see what you are entitled to.

You can also find a provider through My Aged Care Guide here.

Sources & further Reading 
Arthritis NSW – we’re here to help

We’re here to help whenever you need us. We have a variety of options available for support and information.

1 Learn more about Serotonin and Gardening: