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Growing plants

Sowing seeds

If you have trouble bending down to ground level, you can buy tools to help with sowing seeds. The loaded tool is pushed along the drill, emptying seed as it goes along. You can also buy or make your own ‘seed tapes’, which are strips of soft paper with seeds attached at even spaces. You can lay these into a shallow trench and cover them over.

To sow peas or beans, you can sow drop them into the trench down a length of plastic pipe. Use a lightweight mini-rake to draw a shallow layer of soil over the trench to cover the seeds.

Planting out

Planting out summer bedding plants involves a lot of bending. You can avoid this by only growing shrubs and herbaceous perennials. Alternatively, you can dig a hole using a long-handled trowel, put the plant on the blade and lower it into the soil. You can do this sitting down if it’s easier. Pot-grown plants are the most suitable for this method.

To avoid bending, use a long-handled trowel.

Using containers

You can use containers to make sure you can work at a height that’s suitable for you. You can grow annual bedding plants, heathers, herbs, spring bulbs and even dwarfing vegetables and fruit trees in this way.

Heavy tubs can be put on wheels in case you need to move them around. Wheeled containers with a braking system are also available – these may be easier to manage, but they’re more expensive.

Watering the plants

It’s useful to have a mains water supply at a central point of the garden so that you can water any part using a short hose or sprinkler. If this isn’t possible, attach a short hose to on outside tap if you have one, or place water butts where you need them most. You can fill them from time to time with a hose if you need to, and dip a small watering can into the tanks when you need to water the plants. Use both hands to spread the weight when you use a watering can.

If you have free-draining borders that are in full sun, it’s best to use them for growing drought-resistant plants such as wallflowers, rosemary, broom and cotton lavender, which come to no harm if they dry out for a few days. This will help reduce the amount of watering you need to do.

Mulching with shredded bark reduces water loss, but the mulch should only be put in damp soil.
Hanging-baskets keep their moisture longer in light shade, and plants like fuchsias, ivy-leafed geraniums, lobelias and busy Lizzies grow well in these conditions.

A hanging-basket sprayer is useful for watering a basket that’s too high to reach with a watering can. You can buy special hanging-basket compost with crystals that help keep moisture in so you don’t have to water so often. Crystals are also available for mixing in with standard compost.

For more information, go to www.arthritisresearchuk.org.
Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.