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Feb 28, 2008
Learn about ALS
I am an avid gardener and this will be the first gardening season for me with my new disease. Has anyone written on this topic? If not, what tools/aids have you found that work well? I'm trying to imagine weeding, planting and pruning with my poor balance and leg weakness. I'm having a difficult time seeing how I would continue with this very big part of my life. Also, are there any organizations that help to redesign a garden for the disabled?
I garden all the time i use a Quad cane to get around ,i have one for outside and one for in . I found i still can use my large base quad to get myself back up from my knees . If your arms are still strong you can get yourself up with one good leg by using it and your arms to get up .You could also use a walker , i use knee pads to crawl around in the dirt ,i have mulch .but make sure you have everything you need before you get down , i use a bucket and put my garden tools in it and make sure you keep pulling your cane with you or you'll have to crawl back to it to get up or find a tree or something to get up . If you buy a electric Wheel Chair get one that has big wheels they go through the grass better than the cheepies i dont have one i have a golf cart ,which i drive in my yard to get to the back to the back yard . Knee pads are a must . i bought some at Home depot for $15.00 nice and cumphy on the knees . I have poor Balance also but move slow dont get in a hurry .Find some comfortable gloves . You can make a window box garden where you make boxes and elevate them on legs but this can get expensive and they knock over easy . I would suggest lots of Mulch and put some weed block down (dont have to )The Key is make every move count ,you dont want to get up alot so think of what you'll need before you get down . I live in Florida so i do it year round . Good Therapy to get out in the Sun . Keep in mind Pace yourself so you dont get too tired
I get up and take a Break every Hour sit in the shade and have some ice tea or just relax for a bit . Geo
Hi, prometheus.

I'm new to this forum too, I was diagnosed in december '07. I'm sure there are others that have been at this a bit longer, but I'll weigh in here. I've done a bit of gardening, and work as a landscape architect. I've been thinking about this myself. A couple of thoughts.

First on tools/aids. One thing I've seen that might be worthwhile is a small seat on wheels with a tray below for garden tools. There is also a "kneeler pad" with little handrails to use to get back up with. A.M. Leonard horticultural supply is a good place to look for this stuff- a couple of links below.

I've also seen hand tools with longer handles, Am Leonard has those, too.

In terms of redesigning your garden, rasied beds would probably make things easier at some point. You might consider contacting the ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects- to see if there is a local chapter nearby that would consider giving you some design input. Another option if there is a university nearby that has an LA program is to contact them. Sometimes they have community assistance programs that the students sign up for. This would be a great project for that.

A couple of other resources to consider. One is your closest land grant university / ag school. They generally have a coopertive extension service that has a bunch of gardening related info. Here's a link to one at Purdue University that is worth checking out-

And lastly, if your state has a Master Gardener program, they are a great source of info, too.

Take care-

Thanks Geo! I'll look into those. I am still able to get up from a seated position but I need something to grab onto. The advice about remembering to always move the cane is very practical. I'll have to remember it!
Just wanted to jump in with something here which may be completely irrelevant but wanted to mention it all the same. I have a friend whose dad died of ALS and to this day, her mother believes that it was gardening that caused it - bear with me here because I know that sounds crazy. He was somewhat obsessed and used all manner of pesticides to protect his prized flowers over the years. While there may be no truth in it, pesticides are known to be toxic to the neuro system so whatever gardening you do, just do it without chemicals that might worsen your condition. God bless and enjoy the coming warm gardening months!
My sister was also an avid gardener. My husband and I helped her purchase several large self-watering pots for her plants and veggies and then we built garden paths to go around them. She was able to wheel around in her chair and we planned the raised platforms to be at the right height so that she could reach everything from her chair. If I can figure out how to attach pictures, I will.



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Thanks mamaoftwo! I've also heard of possible pesticide connections. I've been a natural gardener since I've started so in my case it may not be related... but I can see how it could affect some who use pesticides.

Marcia, Thanks for the photo. That is a very good shot of the layout of her garden. It may be something that I will copy some day. I like how everything is in raised beds and pots. Very accessible!
The little seat with wheels is great! (Useful as long as you've got some strength in your legs to scoot.)

There is a woman in here in Minnesota who was profiled on the news here a while back. She is an avid gardener and it looked like she had raised beds so she could motor through the garden and work without having to be low to the ground. A bit of work, but it looked lovely.

My mom isn't able to move her arms at all anymore, so this year I'll have to rely on her sage advice instead of her hands! I'm an idiot in the garden, so I'm glad she can still speak a little bit so that I don't ruin all of her years of hard work this spring! I can't wait for our long winter to be over so we can get back outside! I'm thinking I'll buy a chiminea so that we can sit out on the deck by a fire and have some wine together!
I love this thread! One of my favorite subjects! I also used raised beds as getting up off my knees is hard some days. BTW, Albert-welcome to the board. I see you are from Denver! One of my favorite places!
Thank you, Cindy. Its good to be here. Another spring snow here in Denver today they say, so the gardening is still a ways off. We've got bulbs coming up through the snow though. Fortunately it never sticks around long.

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