Adaptive Gardening: 25 Tips and Tools to Keep You Gardening As You Age

If you’re looking for ways to stay safe and healthy in the garden as you age, stay tuned. Organic farmer Jenna Rich shares 29 tips and tools to comfortably keep you out in the garden.

adaptive gardening. Close-up of an older male gardener with a hoe in his hands digging the soil in the garden. He is wearing blue jeans, a light blue shirt and a gray cap. Next to him stands a large wooden cart with a wheel.


There is much proof that gardening is good for us. But how do we keep ourselves safe and healthy as we age while continuing to garden? Certain tasks become more challenging as we lose some of our strength, grip, and dexterity, but this shouldn’t keep us from being outside, doing what we love. 

Growing food and flowers continues to be good for our health and wellness, especially as we age, and with new tools on the market to make gardening chores more comfortable, it’s easier than ever to stay out there. 

Tools For Gardening As You Age

While ergonomic tools can and should be used by gardeners of all ages, some tools target parts of our bodies that need extra support as we age. Here are some amazing tools that will keep you gardening and feeling comfortable. 

Garden Kneeler 

Close-up of a garden with wooden raised beds and mulched paths with pine cones. Various vegetable crops grow in the beds including radishes, beets, carrots, lettuce and others. There is a light green Garden Kneeler on the path. The Garden Kneeler is a versatile gardening tool designed to provide comfort and support during gardening tasks. It is a rectangular foam mat with a rubber coating.
Protect your knees and garden comfortably with foam knee pads.

Our knees are often a part of our bodies that get ignored, but when overutilized and under-supported, they can cause aches and pains that spread throughout the rest of our body. The act of kneeling and bending repeatedly in the garden may be no big deal in our younger years, but it can cause detrimental stress on our joints as we age. 

A waterproof foam rubber knee pad is the perfect garden sidekick to protect your knees when you’re weeding, mulching, or transplanting. It will stabilize you while your hands are doing the important work, keep your knees dry, and protect you from sharp rocks and sticks that may otherwise cut your skin. 

Select something easy to clean, transport, and store. They’re inexpensive enough to purchase a few and store them in different areas of your garden.

Pro tip: Use the carry handle to hang them on a sturdy nail on the wall of a garden shed or in a barn for easy access and to keep it clean and dry.

Raised Garden Beds 

Garden view from Birdies Metal Raised Garden Beds. These raised beds are sleek and modern garden containers crafted from durable, powder-coated steel. They feature clean lines and minimalist design. They are rectangular and round in shape, light green and black. Various young seedlings grow on the beds.
Elevate your gardening game with customizable raised beds.

Raised beds are all the rage right now, and for good reason. Many companies sell garden beds you put together yourself at home to the specs you prefer. They come in different shapes, sizes, and heights to fit your needs. Ensure your raised beds are at least six inches off the ground, especially when growing crops with long taproots. The taller your raised beds, the less you’ll have to bend over

Epic Gardening’s metal raised beds can be configured to your liking and come in a variety of sleek colors, sizes, and depths. Benefits of gardening in raised beds include decreased weed pressure, improved drainage, and more control. The bonus for aging gardeners includes not having to bend over to the ground and being able to position them near your home for easy access. 

YouTube video

Ergonomic Hand Tools 

There’s no need to be uncomfortable while gardening when there are so many companies making tools that alleviate aches and pains. Let’s check out some of them. 

CobraHead Weeder & Cultivator

A close-up of a hand skillfully wielding the CobraHead Original Weeder & Cultivator as it digs into the earth, which is covered in rich brown wooden mulch and decomposed plant matter. The tool is being used for precise gardening tasks, enhancing the soil's health and appearance.
With the right tools, gardening can become much more manageable and even enjoyable.

One of my absolute favorite weeding tools is the CobraHead Weeder & Cultivator. When plants are young and vulnerable to damage, this tool slips in-between and around the stems, removing tiny germinated weed seeds. Our community loves this tool for the spade-shaped tip that breaks up crusty soil surfaces and grasps the roots of stubborn weeds. Use it to help you transplant and tackle weedy sidewalk cracks.

Its handle is soft and comfortable to hold during gardening tasks and it can be used by both right and left-handed individuals. Save yourself from tendonitis and achy hand and forearm muscles with this useful tool.

Long-Handled Standing Tools

Close-up of a farmer cultivating soil in the garden with hoe. The hoe is a traditional gardening tool characterized by a long handle attached to a flat metal paddle-shaped head. The farmer is wearing blue jeans and white gloves.
Upgrade to modern tools for ergonomic comfort and longevity.

Most vintage tools have wooden handles that can be sanded, oiled, and maintained for long-term use. For ergonomic purposes, I recommend selecting more modern and adaptive gardening tools with longer handles for people of all heights, soft padding for comfort, and shock absorption that are easier to clean and maintain. 

Some examples: 

  • Swivel/stirrup hoe
  • Standard hoe
  • Wire weeder
  • Standard rake


Close-up shot of a gardener in blue jeans and gray sneakers cultivating soil using a red broadfork in a sunny garden. The broadfork is a robust gardening tool characterized by its large, fork-like design with multiple sturdy thins and long, ergonomic handles.
Effortlessly aerate and amend the soil with modern lightweight broadforks.

If you practice no-till gardening, there are new, lightweight broadforks on the market that make aerating your soil and incorporating amendments quick and easy. Just step on the fork to push the tines into the soil surface as far as you can, gently pull back, and pull it out.

Repeat this down the length of your garden plot about every six inches or so. I like to do this before sprinkling amendments so they get into the soil more efficiently. Then, I go through the whole area with a rake to smooth it out before sowing or transplanting.

Battery-Powered Tilther

Close-up of a farmer plowing the soil with a cultivator. This cultivator is small in size, has a long handle and rotating blades under a black and white plastic frame.
Effortlessly prep tough soil with the convenient electric tilther.

This tool is especially great if you have thick or clay-like soil but don’t want to use big machinery like a tiller. Just connect a battery-charged drill to it, and off you go. It’s a standard walk-behind tool with adjustable height and handles.

It works great in 30-inch bed systems and gently fluffs up the top few layers, creating a smooth surface for direct seeding. A tilther can also be used on newly opened garden plots. 

Pro tip: Remove any large rocks before using this, as they may get kicked up and out of the machine during use.

Planting Tools

Planting is one of the toughest garden chores on the body. There are lots of adaptive gardening tools on the market today to assist. 

Push Seeders

Close-up of a woman sowing a lawn using a push seeder in a sunny garden. Push seeder is a handheld gardening tool with a simple yet effective design, featuring a hopper for seed storage and a series of evenly spaced openings at the bottom. It has two wheels and a long plastic handle.
Upgrade to a standing seeder for efficient large-scale crop planting.

If you grow large amounts of food and are seeding several successions a season of direct-seeded crops, you need a standing seeder! This adaptive gardening innovation allows you to sow seeds while standing up and wheeling a lightweight implement.

Hand-Held Standing Transplanters

Close-up of a gardener's hand in colored gloves planting flower bulbs using a bulb planter in a sunny garden. The bulb planter is a specialized gardening tool with a cylindrical metal tube and a handle, designed for effortless planting of bulbs.
Make transplanting painless with a standing planter tool.

All the bending over required when transplanting can be back-breaking. Standing transplanters are tall, tubular, metal tools that make this process much easier on the body. While standing, place the end of the tool where you want the transplant to live. Load the transplant, poke the end into the soil, squeeze the trigger, and then release. Boom! The transplant hole has been opened up and filled in just seconds. 

This adaptive gardening tool can save hours on your knees, bending your back awkwardly, and the repetitive hand-squeezing motion that causes pain and tension. It can be used with various-sized transplants, bulbs, and potatoes, all without the need for heavy machinery or fuel, and done while comfortably standing. 

Pro tip: Have a friend or your partner walk alongside you, holding the transplants as you use this tool. It will go quicker if they drop one in, you squeeze and release, and then you both move forward.

Power Planter AKA Auger

Within the garden, a man wields the Power Planter DIY Guru Auger, a robust tool with a spiral drill. The earth it pierces is rich brown soil, surrounded by green grasses, ensuring efficient drilling.
The DIY Guru Auger features an innovative rotating design that can be attached to any drill.

Similar to the standing transplanter, this handy auger can dig your transplant holes for you so you can just drop in your plants, tamp down the soil, and be on your way. The adaptive gardening auger works in conjunction with most electric drills and takes a little more practice to get the results you want. 

Grow Smarter, Not Harder

Simple and uniquely adaptive tools can help make gardening much more enjoyable and comfortable. Here are a few more of our favorites.

Quality Gloves 

Close-up of a gardener's hands in black and green gloves planting a young hosta seedling in loose dark brown soil in the garden. This seedling has medium, oval, dark green leaves with thin parallel veins.
Wear gloves for comfortable gardening.

This may seem self-explanatory, but the simple act of wearing gardening gloves is something many of us don’t do regularly. Sometimes we forget they’re in the laundry or they’ve been misplaced. After a long day working in the soil, our hands can dry out, become callused, and even cut from small items in our soil. 

Our hands are the second place on our bodies. We show age there since the skin is thin, and we use our hands for, well, everything! Keep them safe by wearing high-quality gloves

Sun Safety 

Close-up of an elderly woman working in a sunny garden. The woman is wearing a beige jumpsuit, a gray T-shirt, green gloves, and a sun hat. She plants various plants in the garden bed.
Wear a wide-brimmed hat and SPF.

Being in the sun for extended periods while tending to your garden can be hard on your skin. As we age, our skin naturally becomes thinner, making it even more important to protect ourselves from UVA and UVB rays. A wide-brimmed sun hat and SPF on all parts of our body, even our hands and feet, is crucial for preventing sun damage. Ideally, find an environmentally friendly and coral-safe SPF.

Garden Cart or Bag

A garden wheelbarrow and a rake in the backyard of the house. The garden wheelbarrow is a versatile and indispensable gardening tool, consisting of a large, deep tray on a single wheel axle with handles at the rear.
Ease gardening chores with a compact, wheeled tool cart adaptive to many garden tasks.

No one needs to be lugging heavy tools and equipment all over the garden. Invest in a small garden cart on wheels that holds all your hand tools, gloves, and a water bottle. Store it somewhere convenient to grab on your way out to the garden, where it stays clean and dry.  

Cushioned Seat

Close-up of a compact folding chair in a sunny garden bed with growing strawberry plants. This chair is low and consists of two supporting legs and a gray seat.
Stay comfy while gardening with a portable, foldable seat.

Why stand when you can sit? Purchase a small seat that easily folds up to be transported around the garden as you work and stored for later use. Most of these feature large side pockets for glove and tool storage to boot. Stay comfy while gardening with a portable, foldable seat. They are perfect for individuals with limited mobility, but also for taking a short break to grab a swig of water. 

Fabric Grow Bags

Citronella plant in eco-friendly fabric planter pot in a sunny garden. The Citronella plant has vibrant green foliage and slender, lance-shaped leaves with heavily lobed edges.
Elevate your gardening game with breathable, versatile grow bags.

Lined and unlined grow bags can be elevated up on pallets or garden benches to allow you to garden without all the bending over. Today’s grow bags aren’t your grandma’s ceramic pots. They’re breathable, prevent plants from becoming rootbound, and are virtually impossible to overwater.

Grow bags range from 3-gallon for lettuce, 7-gallon for single tomatoes, and 60-gallon for a wide range of crops. You can even grow trees in grow bags with ease!

Pro tip: To avoid spending money on potting soil to fill your whole bag, add compostable items like kitchen scraps, leaves, and wood shavings in the fall before you want to use them. Keep them out of reach of hungry critters. Allow the items inside to break down and turn into fertile soil, then top the rest off with a potting or seed-starting mix.

Dibble Boards

Close-up shot of two hands of a gardener planting seeds in a cell tray in a greenhouse on a white table. The cell tray is a rectangular gardening container made of durable plastic, divided into numerous small individual cells. These cells are filled with soil with a hole for sowing seeds.
Craft your perfect dibbler for effortless seed starting.

If you use cell trays to start your season, you know the struggle of getting an even dibble in each cell at the perfect seed depth. This may be difficult if you don’t have a lot of strength in your fingers.

Pre-made wooden and plastic dibblers sell online for a pretty penny, but if you’re handy, you can make your own that fits your trays exactly. With some plywood, strong glue, and wooden dowels, you’ll have a dibbler that will last for years to come. 

Vertical Growing

Close-up shot of two GreenStalk 5-Tier Vertical Planters with Quentova Globe Amaranth plants in flower in the garden. The GreenStalk 5-Tier Vertical Planter is a sleek and innovative gardening solution, featuring a tower-like structure with five stacked tiers of circular planting compartments. The Quentova Globe Amaranth plant blooms with delicate pink pompom-shaped flowers.
Maximize space with the GreenStalk Vertical Planter for easy gardening.

The GreenStalk 5-Tier Vertical Planter by Epic Gardening is perfect for people who have cut back on their gardening space but still want to grow some of their vegetables and herbs. The GreenStalk allows you to stand (for the most part) while planting, watering, and harvesting.

This adaptive tool offers 30 planting pockets with a wide range of gardening options, including strawberries, lettuce, herbs, and root veggies. Other ways to grow vertically include window boxes, hanging shoe organizers, or pallets on the wall. 

Pro tip: There is an optional base with wheels that makes moving the planter a breeze. 

YouTube video

Harvest Tools

Harvesting from the garden can be a big task at any age, but as we get older, simple tasks may become more difficult due to decreased strength and grip, difficulty reaching, or inability to lift as much weight. Here are some harvest tools that should help.

Harvest Pouches/Bags

Close-up of a farmer harvesting a tea plantation. The farmer is wearing a gray long-sleeved sweater with two large yellow bags attached to the back and front. These bags contain collected tea plant leaves.
Stay prepared with a handy harvest pouch for easy picking.

Have you ever been doing a quick chore or garden walk-through on a non-harvest day, but you notice lots of cucumbers begging to be picked? Have you ever filled your pockets and arms and random nearby buckets with produce because you went out to the garden unprepared? Keeping a harvest pouch nearby should relieve you of these issues

Harvest pouches are heavy-duty and adaptive, with a double-sided harness style to keep your body balanced while picking in the garden. Some models have adjustable straps around the chest and waist to allow the piece to fit comfortably, while others simply fit around your waist. The straps are thickly padded. Fill the pouches only as heavy as is comfortable, then empty them and begin again. 

Harvest Rakes 

Close-up of a gardener in a white striped shirt harvesting blueberries using a Harvest Rake in the garden. The Harvest Berries Rake is a specialized gardening tool designed for gently harvesting delicate fruits such as berries. It features a lightweight frame with flexible tines spaced closely together to prevent damage to the fruits and minimize loss during harvest.
Effortlessly gather delicate berries and flowers with harvest rakes.

These are simple tools used to harvest crops like low-bush blueberries, blackberries, elderberries, and chamomile flowers. Individuals with low dexterity or a weak finger grip may find it difficult to harvest small berries and flowers. Harvest rakes are lightweight and easy to maneuver, with a very small learning curve.  

Reach Fruit Picker

Close-up of harvesting apples with Reach Fruit Picker in a sunny orchard. The Reach Fruit Picker is a practical harvesting tool, characterized by its long telescoping pole with a small basket attached at the end. Three apples are collected in a basket.
Reach high-hanging fruits painlessly with an above-head fruit picker.

Apples and peaches and pears, oh my! Those fruits can sometimes be far out of reach and painful to harvest. An above-head fruit picker allows you to reach fruits without straining your neck, back, and arm muscles. Most models have a small basket attached, so you can work for several minutes before bringing the picker down to empty it before beginning again. 

General Tools

Gardening uses all parts of your body, sometimes in funky ways that we don’t even realize until we’ve tweaked our neck or back and need to head to the chiropractor for an adjustment! Here are a few items that can help keep you in tip-top shape as you complete everyday gardening tasks. 

Ergonomic Hand Snips and Pruners

Close-up of a gardener with pruning shears pruning a bush in the garden. These pruners have black and orange handles. The man is wearing a white sweatshirt.
Experience pain-free pruning with lightweight and durable pruners.

Nothing’s worse than a clunky pair of pruners that leave your hands throbbing after using them. Enter the lightweight Felco Long Reach Harvesting Snips and Felco 8 Hand Pruner.

You can use them for a long time without discomfort, and they’re easy to adjust and maintain. There’s a reason you know the name Felco! They’ll help your hands stay adaptive and nimble while ensuring efficient gardening chores.

Telescopic pruners have easily adjustable and long handles that can be used to do above-head pruning without using a ladder. 

Pro tip: Keep your tools clean, sharpened, and lubricated to keep them in their best working order.

Overhead Grabbing Tool

Close-up of a male gardener with a red Grabber Reacher Tool picking up cigarette butts in a sunny garden. The Grabber Reacher Tool is a handy device designed to assist with reaching and picking up objects from the ground or high shelves.
Simplify trellising with an overhead-grabbing tool for tall plants.

When using a tomato, cucumber, or pepper trellising system that involves clipping tall plants up, it can be cumbersome and tough to reach up above your head over and over. The tomato trellis system we have is about nine feet off our high tunnel floor. 

After the first few years of hauling around a step stool and busting into my garden beds each time I set it up, I received a tip from a fellow farmer to use an overhead-grabbing tool to place the trellis hooks on the trellis system up above. This simple gadget was less than $10 and is an absolute game changer. While it’s not technically a gardening tool, it’s a great hack, and I’m happy to let you in on the secret! 

Trellis Clip Bags

Close-up of a cucumber plant with a plastic plant trellis clip. The clip is a small yet essential gardening accessory, crafted from durable plastic. Its design features a U-shaped clip with prongs on each end.
Keep trellis clips handy with a clip bag.

Along the same lines as the overhead grabbing tool, a trellis clip bag is a simple pouch connected to a padded strap that fits across your body so you don’t have to bend over into a bucket as you move through your trellised crops. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to save your back the bending. It clips to your belt or pant loop and is lightweight. 

Tips For Gardening As You Age 

Now that we’ve gone through some tools you can use when gardening as you age, here are a few more tips for you before I send you on your way. 

Plant Native and Perennial Plants

Close-up of flowering Echinacea plants in a sunny garden. The Echinacea plant, also known as coneflower, is a striking perennial herbaceous plant known for its vibrant and daisy-like flowers. It features sturdy stems topped with large, cone-shaped centers surrounded by purple-pink ray petals. The foliage consists of lance-shaped, toothed leaves arranged alternately along the stem.
Choose low-maintenance plants for a resilient garden as you age.

This is a good gardening idea for all of us as we adapt to changing climate patterns, but as we age, these plants require less work and attention from us while still providing us with beauty. Select plants that thrive in your growing zone and soil type and that come back each year stronger. Look for plants, flowers, and shrubs that indicate they’re low-maintenance when it comes to soil fertility and watering needs. 

As you build up your native plant garden and your plants become well-established, you’ll notice their ability to withstand whatever Mother Nature throws at them. 

Use Drip Irrigation 

Close-up of a garden bed with growing onion plants and a drip irrigation system. Onion plants display a distinctive appearance with slender, upright stems emerging from a cluster of fibrous roots. The drip irrigation system is a practical and efficient method of watering plants, consisting of a network of tubing, emitters, and connectors. The tubing distributes water directly to the base of plants through small emitters strategically placed along its length.
Upgrade to drip irrigation for effortless garden watering.

No one loves dragging around heavy, awkward hoses and clunky watering cans. Drip irrigation is an investment for your garden and your body. The initial installation involves cutting headers and drip lines, attaching on/off switches, and laying them out in your garden beds. The lines last several years and are easily held down with a rock or garden staple. 

I recommend walking the line every few times the water is turned on to ensure the placement hasn’t moved into a path, no leaks have sprouted, and no lines have blown off. Always check the water pressure is appropriate for your size system so there are no issues. 

If your operation is too small for drip irrigation, look for small, ergonomic watering cans that have a long pour spout. This makes it easy for gardeners with arthritis or hand and joint pain and those who have trouble picking up a traditional watering can. 

Install Automatic Timers 

Close-up of a digital water timer on an automated drip irrigation system on a blurred background of wooden raised beds. The digital water timer features a compact, weather-resistant design with an LCD screen for easy programming and monitoring. It is equipped with intuitive controls for setting watering schedules, durations, and frequency.
Automate your gardening tasks with convenient automatic timers.

We’re all busy and have a lot on our minds so it’s understandable if we forget to water our plants, or worse, forget to turn the water off! Automatic timers are easily installed to grow lights, watering systems, fans, and heat mats, so we can rest assured we won’t forget something. 

Set them to the time you want certain things to turn on and off, test them a few times to ensure they’re in proper working order, and then go on about your days. 

Take Good Care of Your Body! 

A woman in casual clothes stands bend over near a flowering iris bush, holding her back in pain. A blue watering can is lying on the ground. The woman is wearing dark blue shorts, a plaid shirt, brown sneakers and a straw hat.
Prevent soreness and enhance recovery with targeted pre- and post-gardening stretches.

When you have an intense, laborious day in the garden, remember to stretch before and after. Base your stretching around the types of movements you’ll be doing to avoid pain and speed up any recovery time. Yoga and strength training can complement your garden hobby to keep you limber, strong, and pain-free. 

Remember to drink lots of water when you’re outdoors working, especially in hot weather, and enjoy the fresh air. 

Final Thoughts 

Gardening is a relaxing, rewarding, and healthy hobby that most of us wish to continue as long as we can. Luckily, there are many tools on the market and interesting hacks that allow us to garden gracefully as we age

Gardening is good for our bodies and our minds so we should do it for as long as we can comfortably and safely. Some studies show a regular dose of gardening may lower our risk of dementia and decrease levels of stress. Others show bacteria we encounter in the soil may increase overall feelings of happiness, and that’s plenty of reason for me to keep my hands in the dirt. Happy gardening! 

Garden cart in the garden filled with cut weeds and grass. Cleaning weeds in the garden to reuse weeds. Yellow yarrows, daisies, lilies and other plants grow in the garden.


7 Ways to Reuse Weeds in the Garden

In this article, gardening expert Kaleigh Brillon shows you the silver lining of weeds: they make great fertilizer that’s completely free to use and will make a world of difference for your soil health.