Gardening can become a lifelong hobby for those who enjoy it. Low-impact and usually done right at home, older adults and seniors can often partake in gardening for decades before the strain gets to be too much. There are some steps you can take to make gardening even more accessible to those who wish to continue getting all of the physical and emotional health benefits it offers. Here are 5 ways to make gardening easier for older adults.
- Using Raised Beds and Containers
Growing older can mean bending down and getting back up again become difficult tasks. In traditional gardening, these are routine movements that can be hard to get away from and still care for your garden. Fortunately, there are ways to bring the garden closer to you. Raised beds can be lifted off the ground to nearly whatever height works best. From one foot off the ground to waist height, higher beds mean less bending over and bending down to tend your plants and grab those pesky weeds. Raised beds can get pricey if you buy them pre-made, so a DIY project for you or a spry young person in your life may allow you to get the exact garden beds you desire.
Another way to create a more accessible garden is to use containers and pots. Smaller containers can be easily moved wherever you need them to be. They can also be lifted up on a counter for easy replanting. Making sure your containers are made of lightweight material can go a long way in ensuring they can be handled for the years to come.
- Install an Irrigation System
Another simple and effective way to ensure a thriving garden, while minimizing labor, is to install a drip irrigation system. Using a timer, drip irrigation systems allow you to ‘set it and forget it' so you know your plants will always get the right amount of water with minimal waste. Drip irrigation puts out a small amount of water near the plant roots to ensure maximum utilization. A system like this limits the need to carry around a heavy watering can and protects against any forgetfulness.
- Join or create a Community Garden
Community gardens are excellent ways to get to know your neighbors and help your community in a tangible way. Building connections allows you to reach out for assistance if you need to miss a few days of gardening, and you can work together with others to lighten the load for each of the members. Seniors can especially benefit because they are able to receive help whenever they may need it as well as share their hard-earned wisdom with up and coming gardeners. You're also ensuring your own continued access to healthy food production and assisting others do the same.
- Use native and drought tolerant perennials
Using native and drought tolerant plants is one of the best steps you can take to limit the work needed in your garden. These plants need very little care once they've been established, freeing your time to work on other projects. Native plants are typically excellent sources of food for wildlife, so you're also drawing birds and other beneficial critters to your yard. Annuals can be beautiful and delicious, but they also require being planted every single year all over again.
- Create large accessible pathways.
One of the most important factors for those deciding if they're going to the garden is being able to access the garden area. Creating easy access to garden beds with large, flat paths that wheelchairs, walkers, and canes are able to traverse is essential for encouraging the older generations to get involved.