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The look of despair when I informed the children that their enchanted forest had to go as it was in fact a kingdom of weeds was not taken well. My daughter had a valid argument when she told me that it was the flowers that were the tallest, greenest and prettiest part of our garden. The weeds were literally taller than myself reaching heights of 175cm. Time to slap on the sun cream, slip on my four-dollar blue and white Bunnings gloves and spend my deserved Saturday rest pulling out weeds.

Unlike my father who loved and cherished his garden and was renowned on our street for creating perfectly symmetrical chess board designs in our lawn with his beloved Atco Royale B20 Rotor Lawn Mower- for me, it’s a chore. A chore that often leaves me with back ache twice a year, coinciding coincidently with verge pick-up.

Whether you are gardening guru like my Dad or a biannual weekend warrior like me- here are 5 gardening tips to avoid back pain and ending up in my office.

1. Weeding without stuffing your back

Pulling weeds and unwanted grass runners out of the garden bed is the height of tedious garden tasks, and often the greatest culprit of back pain. The first couple of weeds come out easily and then you start tugging on that of thicket of thistles that have properly rooted in. You put your back into it- and there goes your weekend.

Tip 1:

  • Always loosen the entire weed ridden area with a garden fork first before gently teasing the weeds out with your hands

2. Wheelbarrow Drama

Nothing gives me the ‘irrits’ more than when you go to empty the well loaded barrow of green matter and it starts to topple over. You put too much of your back into it to keep it up – and there goes your weekend.

Tip 2:

  • Inflate- a flat tyre can create a hell of a lot of strain to push the barrow, get it moving and any pivoting actions.
  • Plan -set your barrow up in the direction you will need to go once it is full
  • Use your legs- bend from knees and push up with your legs and your butt.
  • Lean in- keep your arms and your spine long lean in and drive the barrow with leg power.

3. Don’t be a fool use a stool

I was that fool for many years gardening for hours to get it all done in one hit, bending and straining and winding up with occasional dizziness and even bouts of reflux. You spend to many hours bent forwards, you can’t straighten up- and there goes your weekend.

Tip 3:

  • Invest in a stool-forget the milk crate go to Ikea and get yourself a perfectly washable plastic stool.
  • Do away with that kneeling cushion.

4. Roll up when straightening your spine to standing

It’s an all too familiar tale in my office on Monday mornings, “I just stood up from gardening and clunk my back went and I was locked forwards and I couldn’t stand up straight! – and that was the end of my weekend!”

Tip 4:

  • Never stand straight up. Put your hands on your knees and roll your spine up.
  • The facets or sliding joints are commonly pinches when people move to quickly from being bent to straight. The pain is intense and commonly they are locked and unable to move.
  • If this occurs, clean up, lie down flat with an ice pack and bend your knees.

5. Keep on moving

You finish up, clean up, and plonk down on the with a cold drink, flick on Netflix to unwind and relax. You take your legs off the coffee table to stand up, back pain strikes – and there goes your weekend

Tip 5:

  • Never mind the layers of dirt caked onto your sun creamed limbs, instead of washing off and sitting down- keep moving.
  • Water the plants, stretch and have a coldie
  • Kick the ball with the kids.
  • Play with the dog
  • Have a quick jump on the tramp sitting idle in that corner.
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