It takes about four weeks for the new habit to start to sink in, so they check in with each gardener a month later.

Elaine Burden’s Middleburg, Va., garden offered a painfully familiar example of a bad habit that needed to be broken. In addition to working in her huge, English-inspired yard with its 15-foot-deep mixed borders and parterre framed by 144 boxwoods, she plays tennis and golf. Those are all very one-sided hobbies, similar to raking and excavation.

Because she was right-handed, her body was unbalanced. Mr. Hughes advised some stretches to the right and that she try to utilize her left hand as much as possible when picking up a golf ball or twisting to the right and weeding with her left hand: “She should stretch out,” he said. She also practiced raking left-handed to alleviate the constant strain that was causing nerve problems down one leg.

It worked.

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Tasks like weeding, picking up tools or digging with a trowel can be done from what Mr. Hughes calls the armchair position without straining your lower back, as long as one elbow rests on one thigh.

Tasks like weeding, picking up tools or digging with a trowel can be done from what Mr. Hughes calls the armchair position without straining your lower back, as long as one elbow rests on one thigh.Credit…

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times