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Adaptive Tools - Maintaining and Watering Your Garden

The best tools are the ones that suit you personally, but today there are a lot of specially designed tools available.

Ergonomic tools are available for gripping anything from cooking utensils to adaptive steering wheels, as well as gardening tools. Look for them at discount department stores, cooking departments, garden centers, and specialty shops. And sometimes you can make your own traction, just by wrapping a piece of foam rubber around a tool and taping it securely. Graspers, utensil holders, shin splints, and cutting aids are sold in medical supply catalogs; they pick up anything from pencils to canned food. For people with very little or no gripping ability, universal cuffs are now available in medical supply catalogs (See Sammons & Preston in our gardening resources) or from a rehabilitation hospital. Newer types of prosthetic grips with specific uses have been developed for amputees. Don't forget to look on the Internet!

Lightweight tools help. Look for tools made from fiberglass, aluminum, and other light metals by reliable manufacturers—something poorly constructed might bend. Children's gardening tools are often small, light, and durable. Also look for small-headed tools for better control.

Long-handled tools can extend your reach up to six feet and provide leverage, but find the lightest models you can. Anything from weed-pullers to hoes and pruners come with long handles. Reachers of every variety are also handy and found in medical supply stores and garden centers.

Spring-released tools, such as pruners and scissors compensate for weak hands and save time. Cordless power tools also help.

Tools with specific uses can really make life easier. New gadgets are put on the market every day and always have been. Be inventive and try new ways of using old tools.

Watering is integral to gardening, but weighs about eight pounds a gallon. It's tough to haul around a watering can so watering aids were created to make things easier. They come in many styles. A watering wand (from 18 to 36 inches) attached to a hose will extend your reach to high places and those farther back. Extension hoses (with hose guides to keep them ruley) are also very useful. Many people find a soaker hose set on low provides an efficient method of watering or try an oscillating sprinkler—it covers a lot of ground—literally! Give beds a good soak at night or early morning so the sun won't evaporate water or cause burning from reflection. An automatic irrigation system is the best, if you can afford to have one installed.