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5 Smart Gardening Hacks for Pain-Free Planting

From lifting heavy pots to preventing knee pain, these tricks will help you feel as good as your garden looks.


Aah… spring. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and your garden is beckoning. Our clever gardening hacks will ensure puttering in your patch of green is even more relaxing-and pain-free.

Prevent knee pain with a pool noodle pad.

Crouching down to plant and weed can make joints cranky and cause knee pain. Instead of shelling out for a fancy kneeling pad, grab a few pool noodles. “They’re a great way to cushion your knees,” says avid gardener and physiotherapist Lalitha McSorley, owner of Brentwood Physio in Canada. “Just cut three sections from the pool noodle wide enough for your knees to rest on and bind them together with rubber bands so they look like a mini ‘log raft’ or cushion-the foam provides enough support to last all season.”

Make digging easy with cooking spray.

You know the perfect spot for your vegetable garden. And you also know as soon as you start digging, soil will cling to your tools, making them hard to lift or clean. To the rescue: a can of cooking spray. Just give the metal blades of shovels and trowels a quick spritz before you start digging-the spray will form a slippery seal over the surface that causes dirt to slide right off so you can dig easily.

Lighten heavy pots with packing peanuts.

Your container garden is the pride of your patio, but lifting the heavy pots is a pain in your back. The solution: Fill the bottom third of containers with packing peanuts. “Not only does this make it easier for you to move the pots, it also creates extra drainage, preventing root rot,” says Jo Cosgrove, owner of Native by Nature Design and Horticulture. “Just cover the top of the Styrofoam layer with a bit of landscaping fabric, then fill the rest of the way with dirt and plant as usual!”

Banish aches with a sponge ‘grip.’

You love gardening on a pretty day. If only your hands didn’t hurt so much after using the tools. To stave off soreness, just use rubber bands to secure a sponge around the handles of spades and trowels. “This both stops the friction that leads to blisters and provides wider grips that are much easier on hand and wrist joints,” explains physical therapist Jocelyn Wallace, PT, DPT. “That means significantly fewer hand aches and pains from digging or pruning.”

Weed without strain with spring timing.

Waiting until the soil is a bit wet after a light rain can make weeding a breeze. “Everything relaxes in a damp garden,” says Cosgrove. “The soil loosens and roots will let go more easily when you pull them. It’s also the ideal time for transplanting-when roots lift out of the ground more easily, they remain intact and will quickly spread out to reestablish the plant in its new home.”

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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