Don’t Give Up On Gardening!

Gardening provides benefits for people of all ages – whether it’s the joy of digging your fingers into the cool earth, the satisfaction of growing your own fresh vegetables, or viewing a rainbow of flowers and plants in your yard.

There is evidence its good for your physical health and mental well-being.  As we age, however, it can be easy to let physical challenges keep us out of the garden.  Before you give up, consider some of these tips and tools that can help make gardening a life-long activity!

Reduce Bending
Too much leaning over hurts anyone’s back, and constantly getting up and down is tiring.  To reduce bending, try bringing the garden to your level!  For example, plant vegetables that grow vertically, either freestanding or up trellises.  Use long-handled and ergonomic tools.  Move to raised bed gardening.  All of these options effectively move the garden closer to you and reduce the need to bend over.

Protect Your Knees
Options to protect your knees range from simple  knee pads to portable kneelers.  Knee pads reduce the stress on your kneecaps.  Portable kneelers can provide some stability as well as comfort, with support to help you get up and down.

Take a Break
Have a stool nearby to sit down on and take a break.  Maybe place some benches or stools around the garden so you don’t have to go inside to rest.  Make sure you hydrate; long hot days in the sun can have a sneeky impact on energy levels and leave you exhausted and dehydrated.   Another way to avoid the heat is to garden first thing in the morning, or in the evening.

Easier Garden Transportation
Garden scooters can be a great way to address back issues, resting, and transportation.  They provide a way to carry your tools, and a seat from which to work.   For walking sticks, see if you can place a broader four point tip on the end for stability in looser terrain.  If you use a walker, consider ones with more rugged wheels.

Make Your Garden Friendlier
You can also be creative in making your garden adapt to you, versus the other way around.  Pots on your patio can be set at any height and reduce weeding.  Elevated planters can be placed anywhere.   Simple drip irrigation systems can attach right to your faucets to reduce the need for manual watering.  Raised beds can be built with adequate space between them to allow gardening right from a wheelchair.  For a simple approach to raised beds, try straw-bale gardening. Garden paths can be wider, and paved for greater stability.   Even one hanging tomato plant outside your door can produce a season’s worth of enjoyment!

Whether you’re a seasoned gardener, or are newly interested, some simple tips and tools can make it an enjoyable and lifelong activity.

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