Gardening Tools for Women Designed by Women

garden tools(ARA) - Winter will soon give way to spring and women across the country are already starting to think about what they’ll be planting in their gardens. They’re also thinking back to last year when tending to their gardens caused them pain. It doesn’t have to be that way.

“You need to be comfortable when you garden. It lets you enjoy the activity rather than having it feel like a chore, and a good place to start is with the right tools” says Dan Hurt, CEO of Vertex, a Minneapolis-based gardening supply company with a line of ergonomically friendly gardening tools.

Hurt knows the importance of comfort in the garden from experience. He used to own a landscaping business and saw his workers, particularly women, struggle with their rakes, shovels and hoes every day. “The tools we’ve been using in our gardens for more than 100 years were designed to get a job done, not for comfort. Our goal is to revolutionize the industry by changing the emphasis,” says Hurt.

The legacy began well before Vertex’s creation in 1997 with the Original Garden Rover. Hurt and his landscaping business partner, Brad Carlson, designed the mobile organizer to serve as a way to get the tools their workers needed to and from the truck with minimal effort. They started marketing the cart after a number of their own customers asked where they could get one. You can load up to 18 tools in the cart at a time, and roll it right to the garden. Its 150-pound capacity lift plate allows users to move bags of mulch, seed, and other cumbersome items with ease

The Garden Rover is among 20 tools in the Garden Brand line, all designed with the user’s comfort in mind. The hand-tools in the collection -- the cultivator, v-hoe, shrub rake, trowel and line of WristSaver extendable tools -- were designed for women, by women with input from physical therapists and ergonomic experts.

“Our hands and wrists aren’t as strong as a man’s, but we can make up for that with smarter tools that utilize leverage,” says Patricia Greene, founder of WristSaver Garden Tools, formerly Earth Bud-EZE. The tools Greene and her partners designed transfer stress and strain from smaller muscles in the hand and wrist to larger muscles in the arms and shoulders. They achieve this through a combination of a vertical handle and lower arm cuff. “Your arms and hands naturally dangle at your sides. It only makes sense that they are at their strongest when kept in that position,” she adds.

Cheryl Volkman agrees. She has been working with people who have disabilities for years, and came up with the concept for Vertex’s Garden Rocker, which keeps the spine aligned with the pelvis and able to move. “Whenever you’re in a hunched position, working in the garden for a while, your lower back and knees get sore; but with this rocker, you can get low to the ground, and rock forward, backward and side to side, while still maintaining your body’s natural position,” she says. “During the testing phase, a woman who had arthritis tried it out and she was able to work comfortably for more than an hour. Without the rocker, she would freeze up within 15 minutes.”

“Women can garden longer and with less strain and fatigue when they use tools that were designed specifically for them,” adds Greene.

Other ergonomically friendly tips to keep in mind:

* When designing your garden, leave large, firm paths alongside each row so that you can do most of your work without having to step or kneel on unstable soil. An alternative to kneeling to tend plants on the ground is to build a raised plant bed.

* If you don’t have an automatic watering system, use a watering wand attached to a hose instead of a water can. This will cut down on the need to bend down as much.

Vertex Garden Brand products are available at Frank’s Nursery stores, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Fred Meyer stores on the West Coast , Menards Home Centers in the Midwest, and independent garden centers nationwide. They are also available directly from the company. Log on to for more information or to place an order.

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