Moving and lifting in the garden

Alan Titchmarsh looks at ways of lifting and moving heavy objects in the garden safely.

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In this No Fuss video guide, Alan Titchmarsh gives advice on lifting heavy objects in the garden to reduce the risk of injury. He advises on getting help from another person, stretching beforehand and keeping the back straight while bending. He also looks at gardening kit that can making heavy items easier, such as barrows and trolleys.

The one thing in the garden that can be a real pain, quite literally, is lifting heavy objects. I mean, it makes sense to grow plants in large containers – that way they’re more stable and they dry out less frequently. But it also means they’re much heavier to lift. So, what do you do to reduce the risk of back pain, slipped disks and
all that malarkey and still enjoy your garden?

Well, the answer is, if possible, get somebody else to help. You don’t always do it on your own. And whenever you do it and whatever you’re doing, warm up first. You know, do a few of those stretches where you pull your legs up and then you push ’em back. I know it sounds a bit fussy, but it does make sure that everything is
working before you start to lift. And then, remember to keep your back straight and move your knees rather than bending over. (Bending from the back) That’s a disastrous way to lift, you know; it’s this kind of movement you should be getting. But, above all, look for ways of avoiding actually having to heave that thing in the air altogether.

If you want this container over there, there are two things you can do. One is to put it over there empty and plant it out when you’ve got it in the right spot. It’s amazing how many people don’t think about that. But if you’re doing a brand new container in spring, move the container to its spot, put the drainage material in, put the compost in and then put the plants in, having moved it. If you do it all here and it wants to be over there, well, then you’ve got this lifting problem. Get your transportation equipment – which is a little trolley like this or a wheelbarrow or, if you’ve a lot of things to move, a trolley like that – as near as possible, as close as possible to the object that you’re going to move. And then, if possible, spin it, leaving part of it on the ground, so you’re taking very little weight. That gets it onto the trolley. Make sure it doesn’t come off the trolley with something like one of these bungee cords – that will just keep in place there so it doesn’t fall off when you start to move it. Wearing gloves is quite useful – it gives you a better grip, particularly for things like ceramic pots, which can slip out of your hands; and then, having got it on the trolley, lever it upwards and move it to where you want to move it. Then lower it very gently – and the same is true in reverse. You’re doing what you did before, but
backwards when it comes to getting the thing out and leaving it where you want it.

So by being sensible, by warming yourself up first, by keeping your back straight, planting your legs, your feet level with your shoulders, and then doing your lifting when you have to, you’ll find you’re not feeling a strain on your back and on those muscles which you suddenly discover, in places where you didn’t even know
you had places. Good luck!