Updated 18 January 2017

Arthritis and gardening

The fact that you have arthritis should not put an end to your gardening activities.


With a little planning and ingenuity, there is no reason why your garden should not look as lovely as always.

10 handy gardening tips for those with arthritis

  • Vary your activities. Don’t spend an hour and a half doing the same thing. You will only place extra stress on a particular joint. Spend twenty minutes doing one thing like weeding and then switch to watering beds or planting seedlings. After an hour you can start the cycle again.
  • Raise your flowerbeds. This will prevent you having to bend down to tend them. Now you can do your gardening while sitting down.
  • Put in wide and paved paths. This would mean not having to step on soil in order to work on flowerbeds. If the beds are no wider than a metre and a half, you do much of your gardening from the stability of the garden path. Long handled gardening implements could go a long way to reducing the amount of bending and stretching you have to do.
  • Get a comfortable old office chair on wheels. This makes it easy for you to move around in your garden and reduces the number of times you have to get up and down.
  • Get help for the heavy jobs. Carrying heavy stuff like huge compost bags should be left to others. There is no point in putting stress on your joints by doing these jobs.
  • Get lightweight implements with rubber handles. This will greatly reduce the stress on your joints and muscles, as it reduces the amount of effort required to hold them.
  • A little pushcart or trolley is invaluable. This will prevent your having to carry plants, pots and implements around. The help of a young child can be enlisted to push the trolley around.
  • Choose plants that do not require daily TLC. If you have arthritis, it is quite possible that there will be periods of time when you will be unable to garden. Choose plants that will thrive in your absence.
  • Put in a garden sprinkler system. This need not be expensive and can save you many hours of unnecessary standing.
  • Put mulch around plants. Not only will this reduce the amount of watering you have to do, but it will also reduce the amount of weeding required.

Read more:

What is osteoarthritis?

What is rheumatoid arthritis?


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Professor Asgar Ali Kalla completed his MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 1975 at the University of Cape Town and his FRCP in 2003 in London. Professor Ali Kalla is the Isaac Albow Chair of Rheumatology at the University of Cape Town and also the Head of Division of Rheumatology at Groote Schuur Hospital. He has participated in a number of clinical trials for rheumatology and is active in community outreach. Prof Ali Kalla is an expert in Arthritis for Health24.

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