Choosing the right tool and saving your back!

Gardening can take its toll on the body and that dull ache in the back is a sure sign of a hard day in the garden.

Especially for those of us that are tall!

But there are a few things we can do to help look after our bodies whilst keeping our fingers green.

I’m blessed/cursed, take your pick, with the lanky bean pole gene with orangutan like limbs that make pruning tall trees and getting the ripest plums easy but this does mean in the past I have been hunched over ill-fitting tools.

When choosing garden tools, if possible, try as many as you can and don’t just take the first one off the shelf, try the one behind it and the one behind that as whilst we manufactures work to strict tolerances, wood is a natural product and one handle may have a tighter grain than another and feel slightly heavier/lighter and fit your build slightly differently. It’s these minute natural differences that can make a big difference after a day’s digging.

Whilst weight is important, I would rather have a heavier tool that is well balanced than a light tool which is top or bottom heavy and leaves me constantly fighting to keep it where I want it.

Weight can be your friend, it gives you extra gravitational force to penetrate the soil, yet on the flip side you wouldn’t want a heavy shovel to shift heavy ballast.  So it’s also a great idea to know your garden soil type and what is best to shift it.

Handle length can make a big difference, if you are tall then a long handle is essential for stopping the stoop and giving you reach, especially on rakes and hoes for instance where the longer handles will allow you to keep you back straighter.

One thing often overlooked is the thickness of the handle. Chunkier handles are easier to get hold of and need less grip strength to hold (your fingers don’t have to wrap around the handle so far).

Something that was pointed out to me was that digging is a one foot activity and we always favour one foot over the other so if you can switch your foot every now and then I must admit it did feel unnatural to begin with, but now I see it as a challenge and its definitely helping.

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