I hate to admit it, like it kills me to admit it, but here I go… my body is aging! At this point in my life, I’m starting to think about ways to simplify gardening tasks and change things up so that I will never have to give up gardening. With aging in mind, I’ve pulled together a hearty list of Tips for the Aging Gardener. Gardening can still be a favorite hobby even in your golden years.
For readers who are under 40, read on; because you, my gardening friend, are aging too. Plus, you’re sure to find some gardening tips you can also utilize.
The Benefits of Gardening
Gardening is one of the best activities to keep a person young and it’s an excellent way to get in some good old fashion exercise.
Gardening is Stimulating to the Senses! This is so hard to put into words, but gardening is just plain invigorating to my senses.
- The sights – the bright color of flowers, vegetables, and green and growing things in general. The sightings of butterflies and hummingbirds enjoying the nectar produced by the flowers you plant.
- The sounds – bees buzzing and birds chirping are pure happiness.
- And oh the scents… lilacs, lilies, peonies, bee balm, rosemary, lavender, herbs, tomatoes (don’t like to eat them, but I love the smell of a tomato plant) and the list goes on and on.
There is such a sense of gratification and joy that comes from gardening. The simple pleasure in growing things and seeing the beauty that you’ve created brings an overwhelming sense of well-being and just flat-out makes you happy. There’s all kinds of scientific evidence proving this, but I won’t bore you with it here.
Besides your mental well-being, your gardens will reward you with gorgeous flowers and fresh, delicious vegetables. You just can’t get much better than that.
There are so many Benefits of Gardening that I’ve written an entire post about it. Check it out when you’ve finished up here.
To sum it up, the emotional benefits and physical activity are just plain good for older adults (and younger ones too).
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Gardening Tools & Equipment Designed to Make Gardening Easier for a Senior Gardener
Having the right tools goes a long way in simplifying gardening and the wear and tear on our bodies. For instance, a handy kneeler works perfectly for getting up and down in the garden and the padding helps with stress to the knees. When you tire of kneeling, turn it over and it makes a stool too. I love the pocket for keeping tools accessible.
If you aren’t keen on carrying a kneeling bench around the garden, consider wearing comfortable kneeling pads. Kneeling is hard on the knees, so be okay with just sitting on the ground as you’re doing your weeding or deadheading. Just don’t get stuck down there.
Look for long-handled garden tools like this Stand-Up Garden Weeder. There is an initial learning curve to it, but once you master it, you’ll love it. Remember lightweight tools are best for aging gardeners.
I recently read another review on this Garden Rocker with an adjustable Seat, so I purchased it. You do have to be able to balance on it and you have to have strength in your legs to get up and down. I mainly use this stool when I’m working in one area, especially for weeding, planting bulbs and working in my raised bed gardens. It really has become a favorite gardening tool of mine.
Be sure the hand tools you are using are solid, ergonomic tools to prevent injuries.
Tips for Simplifying Gardening Tasks
Get organized and make lists. I find that when I have a list of tasks I want to accomplish, it’s much easier for me to stay focused and get that particular job done. Utilize the Free Gardening Printables in the Gingham Gardens Resource Library to help you plan and stay organized.
When you’re making your lists, be sure to make a list of the garden projects you will need help with, like heavy lifting, spreading mulch, etc. etc.
In your flower beds, replace high-maintenance plants and weedy perennials, with low-maintenance plants, perennials and shrubs that don’t need as much coddling. Check out the article, Creating and Caring For A Low Maintenance Flower Garden, for lots more awesome tips to make your garden low maintenance.
Here’s a Pin to Save to One of Your Gardening Boards on Pinterest for Future Reference!
I can’t stress mulching enough. Mulch goes a long way to keep weeds at bay and it also shades the soil and helps it retain moisture. Use a good shredded wood mulch that will break down and fortify the soil.
If you don’t want to spend the money from your gardening budget on wood mulch, use shredded leaves and grass clippings. Adding a thick layer of newspaper around plants before you mulch also helps weed seeds from taking root.
One thing I’ve done for several years now is to save money throughout the year to hire help, or what I lovingly refer to as a “yard boy.” Advertise your need for help at your garden club, your church, in a local Facebook group, or a local neighborhood group.
If you’re on a limited income and you really don’t have the means to hire help, tell your family members that you would like help in the garden in lieu of special occasion gifts, like birthdays or Christmas. Be sure to treat those who help you like royalty (for example cookies, fresh lemonade) so they won’t bulk at helping you again in the future.
For more direction and tips on simplifying or downsizing your gardens, check out this post.
Gardening Tips for Those With Mobility Issues
Raised garden beds and container gardens are a great way to garden if physical limitations are an issue. They can be placed on a patio and made easily accessible. These types of raised planter boxes are excellent if you can’t bend over.
Vertical gardening is also a great way to minimize stress on our bodies from bending over and a great use of space where space is limited.
Be creative with containers – turn empty pots upside down to make a table of sorts to place other planters on to raise their height. Concrete blocks can also be used to elevate planters to waist level.
Easy access vertical gardens are good choices for a small space like a patio or deck.
Put containers on casters or pot dollies like this one, so they can easily be moved.
Move items that can be a trip hazard.
Keep in mind that raised beds and containers dry out much more quickly than plantings that are in the ground, so they will need to be watered more frequently. However, for a person with limited mobility, watering a garden is likely a very therapeutic and satisfying chore.
Tips for Helping Our Bodies Adapt to the Stress of Gardening
There’s no debate that gardening is hard work. That being said there are some things that older gardeners (and really all gardeners) can do to ease the stress on our bodies.
On hot days, do the bulk of your heavy duty gardening chores in the early morning and evening when the sun isn’t as intense.
Do some simple stretches before and after you’ve had a gardening session. If I get lazy over the winter and slack in my exercise routine, I will pick it up in February just to get in shape for gardening season.
Mix up your gardening tasks and limit your time at one task, so you aren’t repeating the same motion over and over. Alternate chores that require bending over with chores that require you to be upright. For instance, alternate raking with weeding, or alternate weeding with watering, etc. Alternating and mixing up our gardening chores will help reduce stress to joints and muscles from repetitive motion.
Drink lots of water to stay hydrated. It’s always a good idea to pace yourself and just do a little bit at a time, taking breaks even if you don’t think you need them.
Add benches or chairs to your shady areas where you can take breaks and take in the beauty of your gardens. Pssst, don’t sit there and dream up more projects like I do though.
As we age our skin gets thinner (as other parts of our body get thicker – boo) so we need to protect it. Wear sunscreen and lip protection. I’m very picky about what I put on my skin, so this organic sunscreen gets my vote, along with this organic lip balm. Consider wearing long sleeves.
Also be sure to protect your eyes from the sun’s rays by wearing sunglasses. Cute garden hats are also an option to protect your head and face from the sun. This gardening hat with an optional bug netting is ridiculous looking, but it works to keep bugs (especially those pesky gnats) away from my head, face, ears and neck.
Wear sturdy protective footwear. Don’t garden in flip flops (I hope you’re reading this, sweet sister of mine). Wear shoes that are going to support your feet and protect them from bug bites, splinters from mulch, etc. I find that when I wear proper footwear my feet, legs and back don’t get as tired or sore.
When you’re gardening day is done, take a soak in an Epsom Salt Bath. The magnesium in epsom salts are very therapeutic and help to smooth achy sore muscles. These epsom salts are my absolute favorites!
Most important of all, be okay with imperfect! Really, find joy in the beauty and enjoy your time in the garden. Don’t let your aging body rob you of the joy spending time in your garden brings you.
Whether you are a senior gardener or a gardener like me that’s in denial but aging anyway, I hope you’ve gained some ideas and tips today for maintaining your garden as you age. Feel free to forward the link to this article along to those who would benefit from these Tips for Aging Gardeners.
I love hearing from my readers, so please leave a comment and let me know if you have questions, or if you can offer a tip that isn’t included here. Thanks a bunch!
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