Country Gardener

Widely regarded as the authority on gardening in the south west

Change your garden as you get older

It comes to us all - the joints get stiffer, the arms a little weaker, and the energy diminishes
- so adapting your garden could help prolong your active enjoyment of gardening.

Did you know that active gardening is second only to weightlifting for helping maintain bone density?

Research has also proven that being out of doors and gardening can help with dementia, sleep and coping with chronic illness.

So there are some very good reasons to keep gardening even though the years roll on and gardening becomes more physically demanding. For many the secret may be to adapt gardens as we grow older.

A few simple adjustments will help make the work easier, allowing you to continue enjoying your hobby.

Like an athlete, the gardener develops gardening skills through repeated activities like digging, weeding, mulching, etc. We learn how to use tools to get the job done with the least amount of efforts and the best results.

For some it means the importance of proper lifting, carrying, and digging techniques for gardening. Recommended habits can be modified. Don’t wait for a back injury before taking a look at your gardening habits.

Gardens are a collective of plants that we wanted to grow at one point or another. Some, though attractive will not be favourites. So select plants that are your favourites and reconsider how to handle the rest.

Changes based on a landscape plan can be made all at once or over a period of years. If you decide to do the work yourself, start with your most labour-intensive space.

Look for plants that need less attention. Reduce the overall maintenance of deep perennial beds by making them narrower then backing them with shrubs. Another solution might be creating a pollinator garden which requires minimum upkeep and can be mown off once a year.

Reduce reaching distance and amount of leaning forward to pull weeds or spread mulch. If you can only access a bed from one side, ensure it is no wider than two feet.

To make the work easier, use quality tools and keep them clean and sharp. A rusty shovel is more difficult to dig with because the soil will stick to it more. A sharp hoe will cut through weeds easier than a dull one. Consider automatic watering and semi-automatic watering systems to reduce the amount of hand watering.

The design of large gardens will need to provide easy access to all the plants with wide, level walkways on both sides of four-foot-wide beds. Create shaded areas in the garden using trellises, gazebos, and small trees so you can get out of the sun. And make sure there are spots all over the garden to sit down.

Smaller garden areas can be created using a number of large containers grouped together or as single planters.

Container gardening can reduce your gardening stress, and the many different attractive containers available add interesting focal points.

You can also turn just about anything into a container garden. From teapots to milk jugs, wooden dressers to wine barrels, let your creativity run wild!

Raised bed gardening

Consider installing raised beds, which reduce bending over by allowing you to work in a standing or seated position. Standing, you may be able to maintain a three-foot-deep bed, while two feet is manageable if seated.

Height often varies from six inches to three feet tall.

Vertical gardening

Unique garden features like vertical gardening with wall planters and trellises allow you to work while standing up. Like container gardening, vertical gardening is an opportunity to get creative.

Growing vegetables using vertical trellises reduces bending and picking. Many vegetables grow well on trellises. Cucumbers, beans, squashes and melons all climb the traditional garden trellis.

You need to consider your body type and abilities when adapting your garden as you grow older.

It is essential your garden is limited by your physical abilities and personal interests as well as the location of the garden itself.

Reduce your garden stress

  • Reduce the overall size of the garden.
  • Trade out high maintenance annuals and perennials for lower maintenance shrubs and trees.
  • Reduce the amount of reaching, leaning, and bending with raised bed and vertical gardens.
  • Garden small with container gardening.
  • Keep your tools in good shape so they’re easier to work with.

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