Gardening with a lung condition? - British Lung Foun...

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Gardening with a lung condition?

BethanyBatemanBritish Lung Foundation

Hi guys,

Over the last 5 years I’ve spoken to loads of people about the way that their lung condition has affected their lives. We’ve talked about things they struggle to do and the ways they’ve found to overcome their breathlessness while they carry on with their hobbies.

One subject that’s come up many times is gardening. It can be gutting if you’re struggling with breathlessness when you bend and generally finding gardening more difficult.

I’ve also heard people say that they love getting out in the garden more than ever. It’s great to keep active and get out in the fresh air, although sometimes they need to do things a bit differently.

Do you still do gardening, despite your lung condition? What (if anything) do you do differently now, to help you in the garden? It would be great to share your hints and tips!

We’re carrying out a pilot project called ‘Breathing Green Air.’ We've teamed up with a charity called Thrive (, and designed a 12-week course specifically for people with a lung condition. We’ve got funds to trial it in two sites – Birmingham and Reading. Hopefully, if it goes well, then we’ll be able to get funding to do it elsewhere too.

The courses start on Thursday 25th May. If you live in Birmingham or Reading and are interested in finding out more about this course, get in touch with Mayana on 0207 688 5570 or to find out more.

All the best,


21 Replies


Although I don't have a garden. One solution wound be raised flower beds. One of my neighbours as a low wall decorated with flower pots of various sizes.

BethanyBatemanBritish Lung Foundation in reply to stone-UK

That's a great call Stone. Raised beds are one of the things we're trying with the pilot project.


A few ideas.

BethanyBatemanBritish Lung Foundation in reply to stone-UK

Love it!

emmo in reply to BethanyBateman

Yes but they cost a lot.

Some suggestions and solutions here:

I still garden, but slowly now.

I use a stool, and my late father used a kneeler.

I have bought long handled secateurs, shears and a grabber.

I have plenty of ground cover plants so there is hardly any weeding.

Up until last year I had a small allotment, I could park my car on the end of my plot and keep my portable nebuliser close.

I have my bags of compost delivered now, and am very careful when opening them.....I guess I should wear a mask that I do not breathe in any spores.

Small steps , and plenty of stop and rests .

BethanyBatemanBritish Lung Foundation in reply to knitter

You've really covered all bases Knitter! I particularly like the idea of long handled tools. That's genius.

Hi Bethany, I've got a device called a 'speedy weed' you can pull up dandelions & so on, including the root by pushing in the tool & twisting then it comes out - it's so simple. I'm booked in with Thrive & spoke to Mayana this morning. Really looking forward to it 😁🌻Christina

I treat the garden like a cake and do a small slice as and when I can.

I garden as usual but at a pace that suits me. I also have chairs strategically placed around the garden so as I can sit to catch my breath and it gives me an excuse to admire my handy work. I love gardening and if I have to stop at some point I don't know how I'd cope.

I use a sack trolley with pneumatic tyres when moving bags of compost and heavy pots around- wouldn't be without it now.

I have raised beds and some lightweight plastic chairs I use to sit on as I garden, with long handled tools as well as small hand tools. My fruit trees are on dwarf stock so that I don't have to bend and stretch too far to pick the fruit. I have a slab path circling the garden and shingle in the centre so that wherever I need to work I can place my chair. Love my greenhouse - I have staging in that and can potter about raising plants there.

I use a wheeled seat, I bought it here Keep smiling

Carole x

I have very severe COPD and a large garden. I used to double dig for vegetables. Now I use a small fork, stand on it to drive it into the soil and wriggle it around a bit. Then down on a kneeler with knife to weed it out. Seating in various places for rests and admiration sessions. I choose a nice day to mow grass, fix it up and do 10 minutes or so at intervals all day. By evening all finished.

BethanyBatemanBritish Lung Foundation

I love how creative, and how common sense, some of these approaches are. It's fantastic how much you can still achieve when you pace yourself and make thoughtful adaptations.

I have to say, its not tiring at all watching my wife do the gardening.


I was diagnosed with Bronchiectasis for over 5 yrs, but have struggled with pneumonias and shortness of breath for years. There are days when it's a struggle to make it thru the day (I'm 67 and retired 2 yrs ago). When I retired I always wanted a perennial garden. Last year, we moved to a lower maintenance house and yard, but there was space for my garden.

Last year, I wasn't feeling the best, but I was determined to put in the garden. I wanted to do it, not my husband. I made it a size that I knew I could manage, with the option of expanding.

You should wear gloves and wash your hands after working in the garden, even tho you wore gloves. You may want to even remove your outer clothes when you come inside and put them in the wash. On windy days, wear a mask.

I worked in the garden in stages, and took frequent breaks to catch my breath. I noticed that the more I moved the more mucus I was able to cough up and thus clearing my lungs.

And this year, I'm feeling less breathless and was able to not only get the flower beds ready but was able to plant a lot of annuals.

I think that you will find, that after being in the house all winter, that being in the warm sunny spring air will do wonders for, if not for your lungs, but for your well being. And to be able to stand back and look at what you have accomplished and enjoy the flowers.

Hope this helps, Beth

Since Sheilding I have done more gardening. Growing from seeds and putting everything in pots. It saves digging and weeding is easier. I have gravel paths instead of lawn so no mowing .

check out y tube 'no dig' gardening vids - gardening made easy

Bunski in reply to trummy200

Yes, a no dig garden is far better for the soil structure. I used to double dig until I watched Geoff Hamilton a couple of decades ago.

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