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Living with COPD Series

Gardening and Yard Work

COPD does not mean the end to gardening and yard work that we once enjoyed.  We may have to go slower, plan ahead and break our work up into manageable pieces, but we can still enjoy the outdoors within our various limitations.

  • It may be necessary to make your garden spot and flower beds smaller and easier to manage.

  • Alternate your tasks and incorporate frequent rest periods to avoid fatigue.

  • Monitor your local news for pollen and pollution levels and avoid working outside on days when the levels are dangerous.

  • Use your imagination and create raised beds, window boxes and containers that help you access them for easier upkeep.

  • Container gardens on a deck or porch can be very lovely and rewarding as well.

  • There are many easy-to-use garden implements on the market similar in size to those for a child with extended handles. They are easier to manage and expend less energy.

  • Use a small wagon or other similar item for carrying around your o2 and garden tools. 

  • A small stool or bench is handy while working in the yard and eliminates difficult bending and kneeling.

  • Use a good mulch or similar material in flower beds to help keep the weeds down.

  • Use a mask when mowing, spreading mulch or any fertilizers, dusts or sprays to eliminate inhaling more damaging materials into your lungs.

  • Try to plant perennials as much as possible. They come up year after year and require less work.

  • Check with your local nursery for those plants and flowers that do not require wind to spread pollen, but use insects instead.

  •  If you have a larger yard, a ride-on mower is almost a necessity. If you are still able to mow, the newer self-propelled models are a great help even if you are on oxygen.

  • If you are unable to do your own lawn mowing, look for a reliable lawn service and check out prices. Perhaps you have a friend or neighbor that has a teenager looking to make some extra money during the summer.

  • Consider planting a nice ivy or ground cover to cover areas in your yard. They can be lovely and eliminate a lot of care.

  • Watch prolonged exposure to the sun. Check warning labels on your medications and use appropriate sun block. Many of our common medications require care while out in the sun.

  • Winter work is also a problem for many. Shoveling snow is a very energy-consuming task. If you must clear your own snow, wear a scarf or mask to protect yourself from inhaling the cold air. Use a smaller shovel or lift only smaller portions at a time. Take frequent rest breaks. If you are on oxygen, use it while attempting snow removal as well.

  • Shoveling snow is also a task that many prefer to hire out, whenever possible. Again, perhaps a friend, neighbor or teen in the neighborhood may be willing to help you out.

  • Plan winter trips out later in the day after the sun has melted the ice and snow from your car.

  • Plan ahead, keep it small, best of all, enjoy!

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Last modified: August 28, 2002