July 14, 2017

Gardening with a Lung Condition

With spring just around the corner, you may be thinking of getting out into the garden which is a great way to keep active and get out in the fresh air. Many people with a lung condition find that gardening is one of the activities that can be difficult when they are short of breath. Nevertheless, if you are a keen gardener, there are some strategies that can help you continue to enjoy gardening even if you have to do things a little bit differently. The British Lung Foundation’s online forum has some useful tips contributed by people with lung conditions themselves including:

  • Consider the use of raised flower beds e.g. you could use a low wall decorated with flower pots of various sizes.
  • Use a stool, or a kneeler. Purchase long handled weeders or other tools to save you bending down.
  • Use plenty of ground cover plants to reduce the need for weeding.
  • Take things one step at a time and make sure you have plenty of stop and rests.
  • Place chairs strategically around the garden so you can sit to catch your breath whilst admiring your handy work.

For full details, visit https://healthunlocked.com/blf/posts/135464856/gardening-with-a-lung-condition. More information can be found on the Better Health Channel’s website at https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/gardening-people-with-disabilities or Thrive’s website at http://www.carryongardening.org.uk/top-tips-for-disabled-gardeners.aspx.

Equipment such as long handled gardening tools and raised garden beds can be purchased from companies including Independent Living Centres Australia or Aids for Daily Living or you could ask an occupational therapist for advice.

Allergies are also a common problem in Australia and if you do suffer from them, it is important to take this into consideration in the garden. The National Asthma Council’s guide to the low allergen garden, including a list of plants to include and avoid, can be found at https://www.nationalasthma.org.au/living-with-asthma/resources/patients-carers/factsheets/the-low-allergen-garden.

In addition, Australian gardener, Don Burke, has some useful information including a checklist for allergy sufferers at http://www.burkesbackyard.com.au/fact-sheets/in-the-garden/gardening-tips-books-techniques-and-tools/low-allergy-gardens/.

It is important that you take care in the garden, especially when using potting mix or mulch. Here are some tips:

  • Read the instructions printed on the bag before you use potting mix.
  • Be careful not to inhale airborne particles when using potting mix, wear a mask that fits over your nose and mouth and open the bag slowly and away from your face.
  • Dampen potting mix and mulch with a light spray of water to reduce the risk of airborne particles.
  • Always wear gloves when handling these products, rinse gloves afterwards and wash hands thoroughly after use.
  • Store potting mix securely away from children.

We would love to hear your tips on how you continue to enjoy gardening. Email enquiries@lungfoundation.com.au or visit our online forum, Breathing Space, at http://lungfoundation.typeandpixel.com.au/forum-breathing-space/.