Arthritis in your green thumbs?

Don’t let painful joints keep you from donning your dungarees and heading out to the garden. Here are six tips, from The Arthritis Society, to reap the pleasures and therapeutic effects of gardening.

1. Grow up, not out
Plant climbers and creepers against fences or trellises that can also act as handholds. Train fruit trees to grow against a support wall for easier harvesting and care.

2. Care for your joints
Take frequent rests, use kneepads or a lightweight bench. Wear padded gloves to ease pain and improve your grip. Avoid heavy tasks by trading jobs with your neighbours.

3. Water wisely
Mulch plants to help retain moisture. Use a child’s wagon to move your watering can and plants or transplants around the garden. Place a soaker hose or a drip irrigator in large pots. Purchase a hose wand for hard to reach places.

4. Be creative
Try using clothes pins instead of twist ties to restrain plants. Use long-handled barbeque utensils to harvest fruits and vegetables.

5. Get organized
Keep tools close to your work area. Replace “stoop and rummage” storage cupboards with more accessible hooks, shelves and counters. Carry hand tools in a pouch or carpenter’s apron.

6. Respect your pain
If you’re hurting more than one hour after gardening, reduce the length of your next session, or increase your rest periods. Use a kitchen timer to remind you to take breaks.

For more information about living with arthritis call The Arthritis Society’s Information Line at 1.800.321.1433. Or visit the Tips for Living Well section of to learn more about:

. Protecting your joints

. Managing fatigue

. Understanding medications

. Exercising

. Eating healthy

. Selecting complimentary therapies

The Arthritis Society provides hope to the four million Canadians living with arthritis by promoting education, community support and research-based solutions for a better life-today and tomorrow.