Save your knees and back while gardening

By Bob Dluzen
Special to The Detroit News

I hear people now and then grumble about how hard it is getting up and down while gardening. While some may have underlying health issues or are just not used to gardening, the No. 1 reason is they are getting older.

One solution is to build elevated, table-top height planting beds so gardening can be done standing up. They are certainly a pleasure to work with but are hard to build and are expensive compared to a plot of land of the same square footage.

A simple device known as a garden kneeler is a good compromise between an expensive raised bed and gardening on your knees or stooping to ground level. It is an improved version of the various kinds of homemade “milking stools” gardeners through the years have come up with.

The biggest improvement over a simple stool has been the development of a reversible kneeler. In one position the device acts as a lightweight gardening seat, allowing the gardener to work at a comfortable height while sitting. That greatly reduces the amount of time that a gardener would spend having to bend over.

The sitting position of a garden kneeler. Note the spring loaded folding mechanism.

When turned over, it is a padded kneeler that supports the gardener’s knees a few inches above the ground, keeping them away from damp or muddy soil. The legs of the seat then act as handholds making it much easier to stand up after kneeling for a period of time.

The slightly raised height of the kneeling position reduces the amount of stress placed on the knees compared to a flat pad placed on the surface of the soil.

The protective pads on the upper and lower surface of the seat are made of lightweight, dense foam that cradles the knees and makes a comfortable sitting cushion. The pads are waterproof and easily wiped dry when wet which is important in a garden where water is often sprayed.

Most models have folding legs, making it easy to transport and store.

I have one that has been knocking around in the garden shed for quite a while. I let an 85-year-old gardener try it out and she was absolutely delighted with it.

A quick search online for “garden kneeler” brings up more than 3 million results, so they are easy to find. Most local garden centers and some hardware stores carry them, too.