Ergonomic Gardening with Arthritis

Published - Jun 07, 2023

Ergonomic Gardening with Arthritis

By Anne Dahlin, OTR/L, CHT, hand and occupational therapist at IRG Physical & Hand Therapy – Frederickson


Spring showers brought May flowers! Now onto summer in the Pacific Northwest, which provides many opportunities to engage in the hobby of gardening. Gardening offers many physical and psychological benefits to those who actively engage in gardening tasks. These include building strength, promoting sleep, helping you to maintain a healthy weight and benefits to brain health, such as boosting mood and improving cognitive function (Healthline, 2020). Of course, the reward and sense of accomplishment of beautifying an outdoor space or growing edible fruits and vegetables has been enjoyed by many since the beginning of time.

Although gardening is a great way to stay active, some actions can lead to swelling and pain, and it’s important to determine your limits and garden in a way that doesn’t cause damage. Luckily, commercial companies are now using ergonomics to design tools to better fit our grasp and make gardening more joint friendly.

One of the most rewarding and difficult gardening tasks is pulling weeds. The act of pulling a weed and using a constant pinch pressure while forcefully twisting and pulling your wrist to get the weed's roots is a joint demanding task. As we all know, there is never just one weed, which is why it is called weeding. This process of pinching and pulling can be lengthy – over 30 minutes in one sitting. This task is the most destructive to a hand that is already experiencing some instability due to arthritis. Do we ignore the weeds? Never! There is so much gratification getting rid of those invasive weeds.

You can avoid the position of deformity to your arthritic joints and use an ergonomic weeding tool. Fiskars® offers an ergonomic weeding hand tool that keeps your wrist neutral, and the design uses the prong to hit the root and your body weight to lift the pesky weed from the root base.

When using an ergonomic weeder like the Fiskars ® Ergo Scratch tool garden weeder (pictured above), all pressure of removing that weed is off the small joints of the fingers and thumb. Ergonomic weeders come in both standing versions and hand tool versions. With other joint-friendly tools, you can enjoy gardening with less pain.

If you are experiencing hand pain or looking for ways to manage chronic conditions, such as arthritis, while participating in your favorite summer activities, IRG hand therapists can help! Reach out to our team any time to get started on your journey to feeling better by going to


Anne Dahlin, OTR/L, CHT, is a hand and occupational therapist at IRG Physical & Hand Therapy – Frederickson with specialized training in custom splinting, desensitization/sensory reeducation, hand therapy, orthotic fabrication, post-operative care, scar management, IASTM and taping.

Learn more about service offerings at IRG here, including physical therapy, hand therapy, massage therapy, performance enhancement, athletic training and more.