February 3, 2010

Gardening at Ground Level

My knee is a device for finding rocks.  I'm looking for a good pair of kneepads.

No one told me that so much of my retirement would be spent on my hands and knees.  Gardening, it turns out, is conducted entirely at ground level.

Even winter pruning of woody branches in high canopies involves scrabbling around on the frozen ground to gather up the pruned branches that drop.  My knees cry.

So I've been searching for a solution.

1. First, Jim bought me big hard-molded construction-worker pads that you strap on over jeans.  Very effective at protecting the patella, but they gap when kneeling, and all the mulch and dirt gets packed in.  I then spend every few minutes cleaning out the rocky debris stuffed between my knee and the pad.  No good.  Pads have to be on the inside.

2. Then I tried molded kneepads strapped on under my jeans.  Smaller ones will fit, but the bulkiness of the pad tends to pull at the fabric over the knee as I move, gradually dragging my pants lower and lower.  Now I have protected knees but plumber's butt as my pants scootch down.  No good.

3. I ripped the pockets off the back of my jeans, sewed them on inside the knees and stuffed removable padding into the open top of the repurposed pocket.  The only thing flat enough but hefty enough to fit in the pockets were oven potholders.  You judge.

4. I painted the knees of my jeans with thick layers of latex (did you know you have to buy liquid latex from body painting sex sites, and you can never get off their mailing list?)  Really no good.

5. I found Japanese gardening pants from Sloggers, which have removable kneepads inside, but the pants had a big stretchy waistband and elastic ankles and enough fabric to sail a small skiff in a light breeze.  No and no. 

6. I bought very expensive pants from a site called Gall's Law Enforcement that sells women's police uniform trousers featuring inner pockets for custom kneepads and, as a complete bonus, flashlight pockets, nightstick holder, a taser gun belt, walkie talkie pouch, and a strap for a pepper spray can.

Now when I go out into the garden my plants quake in fear, but my knees do not.


  1. Your post has me on my knees!

    Well, now at least I know not to buy body paint at adult stores. LOL.

    I kind of avoid the kneeling thing, my knees are too sore [at 46 ] from years of bending at the garden centre.

    So I have perfected the "squat", better for my back, and I find that I can actually stand up again, after doing knee oriented chores.

    Found you through Frances, love your blog.

    Good luck with getting off of that mailing list.


  2. Thanks for coming over here Jen. I can't imagine getting things done in the dirt without kneeling. But as you show, you work with what you've got (and bloom where you're planted... I visited your blog and love your photography!)

  3. You sure went through a lot to find the right knee protection. I guess your plants must be a little nervous now, those pants sound pretty elaborate. Hopefully there will be no need for a nightstick in your garden :)

  4. OMG how hysterical. Sore knees are a hazard of gardening.

  5. Hello, Catherine. Thanks for worrying about my nervous plants : ) I'm actually more worried about what my neighbors think of my get ups!

    Lisa, I can live with the soreness, it was the unsightly callouses on the knees that drove me to such lengths!

  6. Great post! (popped over via Frances). Thanks for the chuckle :)

  7. Thanks for visiting Joey!

  8. Good morning! I came over from the Faeregarden. Your new gardeneing pants seem to be the perfect thing!

  9. Thanks, Lotusleaf. Your gorgeous tropical photos sure warmed up my cold snowy day today!

  10. Hilarious! Best hold that nightstick up over your weeds ;-)

  11. Laurrie, I could see every image-right down to the plumber's ... well you know! I don't do knees anymore. I have a little rolling cart that works for the ground level efforts. That or I sit on my well padded behind. So much for gracefulness in the garden.

    I came via Frances and am so glad I did. Welcome to the wonderful world of Garden Blogging!

  12. Thanks Garden Ms. S, the nightstick is why my weeds are so sorry!

    Hello, Beckie, glad you stopped by. The rolling cart sounds intriguing, but it would wind up in the front garden when I need it in the backyard, I'm sure!

  13. So funny, Laurrie, and a great post! Every time I work in the garden, my knees remind me that I'm not a young woman anymore:) I use kneeling pads, but they have their disadvantages, too. I have thought about using my daughter's old kneepads from volleyball, but our legs aren't exactly the same size, if you know what I mean.

    I came here via Frances--welcome to the world of garden blogging! You'll love it!

  14. Thanks for the welcome, Rose. It's great to see you retired and found gardening late in life too! A rewarding second stage of life, even if we don't have the knees for it.

  15. Hi Laurrie - Found you on fairegarden...fun to find another new blogger (I'm about 3 weeks in). I love the tips on protective equipment. I consider myself young (may need to reevaluate), but I'm feeling aches and pains I've never felt before, so this all may come in quite handy once the season kicks in for real. Enjoy your blogging adventure, and check out LifeOutOfDoors.com if you get a chance. Thanks! Kelly

  16. Hi Kelly, it's nice to find another newbie, with a brand new blog. I'll head over there to see yours. We must be the last two gardeners on earth to start a blog, from what I've seen!

  17. Hi Laurie! Yes indeed, the quest for the perfect pants. I was going to try the suggestion of North Face cargo pants that zip off at the knee for when it gets hot! We shall see. I was doing my usual tour this morning after getting back in town late last night and there I was, ass crackin the hood. Darn it! Have a super weekend!


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