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Tips for the Aging Gardener

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.

For my readers who are under 40, read on; because you, my gardening friend, are aging too. Plus, you’re sure to find some gardening tips that you can utilize as well.

Just a little disclosure on the images in this post – they are stock photos.
I would much rather use my own pictures, but I just didn’t have any for this post.

Older Gardeners - Tips for Aging Gardeners

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 for me gardening is just plain invigorating to my senses.

  • The sights – the beauty 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 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.

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Gardening Tools & Equipment Designed to Make Gardening Easier for Seniors & All Gardeners

Having the right equipment goes a long way in simplifying gardening and the wear and tear on our bodies. For instance, a handy kneeler works perfect 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.

I recently read a great review on this Stand Up Garden Weeder and I purchased it. There is definitely a learning curve to it, but once I master it, I know I’m going to love it.

 

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 you 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 veggie beds. It really has become a favorite gardening tool of mine. 

 

Be sure the 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.

Replace flowers that need lots of babying and weedy perennials, with lower maintenance 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!

Tips for Gardeners Over 55

Really, I know I always harp on this, but 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. 

Consider installing a simple drip irrigation system or a soaker hose to ease the burden of watering. 

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 a 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. 

Elderly Gardener - Tips for the Aging Gardener

Gardening Tips for Those With Mobility Issues

Raised beds and container gardens are a great way to garden if mobility is 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.

Put containers on casters or pot dollies like this one, so they can easily be moved.

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.

Love this sign:

Tips for Helping Our Bodies Adapt to the Stress of Gardening

Do the bulk of your heavy duty gardening chores in the early mornings and evenings 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. Be sure to pace yourself and take breaks even if you don’t think you need them.

Add benches or chairs to your shady garden 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.

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 sturdy solid shoes that 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 your love for gardening brings you.

Whether you are a senior, 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 you can offer a tip that isn’t included here. Thanks a bunch!

Happy gardening,
Joanna

p.s. Please help me out by pinning some of the pictures in this post. If you hover in the upper left-hand corner of the picture, you’ll see the Pin icon. There are more pins to share at the bottom of this post. Thanks so much!

p.p.s. For more awesome gardening ideas and some beautiful gardening eye candy, follow Gingham Gardens on Pinterest.

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26 Comments

  1. Hello Joanna – I really enjoy your tips and humour! I have arthritis in my knees so I can’t garden like I used to, but I got some tips from this column that I will use.
    Thanks!
    Carol

    1. Hi Carol – I’m sorry about your knees. It just plain sucks getting old, except that we’re so much smarter now. 😂 Good luck and happy gardening, Joanna

  2. Hi Joanna,
    I moved about a year ago and was able to go back and dig up my perennials from my old house. I turned 60 last fall and want to cut back on the amount of work it takes to weed. We have a shed on our property that needs some landscaping and was wondering if I could put in some raised beds that would be low to the ground and plant perennials in them. (by raised I mean I would put the wood right on the ground and have rock paths around them) Would the plants come up next year.
    Thanks,
    Julie

    1. Hi Julie – yes, I’m sure most perennials would do okay in raised beds. I’ve overwintered perennials in raised beds before and they did just fine. Good luck and happy gardening, Joanna

  3. Joanna,
    Thx so much for this. I noticed that several of your other commentators mentioned being 60….haha, I wish! I was 60 when we moved to DC…to a house with a very challenging property.. But I was gung-ho for the first few years until I had a sciatica attack after working in the garden all-day (previously only experienced when I was 30 years old and 8 months pregnant). Anyhow, I’ve learned the hard way that there’s a big difference between being 60 & 65….let alone my current 71. I get very discouraged sometimes, but trying to discipline myself to doing no more than 2 hours gardening in a day…rather than letting things slide and then going on a 6-hour rampage; getting help with planting from “landscape-maintenance guys;” and installing an irrigation system has helped a lot. Next up: I’m going to buy one of those stool-things you recommend!
    Monica

    1. Hi Monica and thanks for stopping by Gingham Gardens. You’ve added some really good tips for aging gardeners. Pace yourself and don’t get discouraged. I’ll bet you’re doing better than a lot of 71 year olds. Happy gardening, Joanna

  4. I loved this article! I’m 60 now,and even though I keep very active with walking,karate and daily exercise,gardening has slowly become more challenging with the constant bending and kneeling. I could never imagine not being in my garden. It is something I love so much! You have some great ideas that I will certainly try! My season is short here in Boston,but to fill it with all kinds of flowers makes it incredibly wonderful for humans,birds and critters alike!

    1. Hi Joanna – thanks for stopping by Gingham Gardens. I love you comment and I think we might be kindred spirits. Lol! Although I hate to admit it, I will be 60 soon too. Happy gardening (or planning), Joanna. p.s. Btw, great name!

  5. I just read your article and couldn’t agree more. My husband bought me a garden scooter from Garden Supply in VT. I pull it over to where I need to weed or plant and adjust the seat as needed. It is a bit expensive but they have discounts or free shipping which helps. And keep on gardening for the joy of brings!

    1. Hello Margot – thanks so much for stopping by Gingham Gardens and taking the time to leave a comment. What a coincidence, my hubs bought me that same garden scooter. I honestly don’t use it much yet. I find that I move around too much. I’m keeping it though for when I do need it. Yes, I agree gardening is very gratifying and it will keep us young. Happy gardening and stop back soon! Joanna

  6. I’m with Janice but I’m 67 with COPD and Spinal Stinosis or however you spell the stupid thing. I haven’t been able to garden for a few years now because I haven’t been able to leave the house. I’ve just been confined to a wheelchair and I’m waiting for it to arrive. I am hoping that I can at least get out and try to do something like maybe container gardening or something. Any idea since I won’t be able to get out of my chair??

    1. Hello Cheryl – I love your willingness to keep on being active. I would highly recommend that you have at least a few containers that you can putter with. There are a few tips for folks with mobility issues in the article. Good luck and happy spring!

      1. Thanks hun, I’ve already read a few of them. I’m not that far from you, lol, I’m in Des Moines. You can stop the snow anytime now! 😉

        1. Yes ma’am, I’m definitely over the snow! We have more on the way and it’s going to take forever to melt.

        2. I seen in a few retirement communities. Garden boxes on leg that are table high for people in wheel chairs. If you know someone who can build you one of these that would be great. good project for scouts or a garden club.

  7. I am 83 have COPD and still puffing along if I get on my hands and knees I have to crawl to something sturdy to get back up but I still get out there and dig come in tired and happy

    1. Janice – I’m impressed, but I totally get it, gardening just makes a gardener happy no matter how much it hurts. Enjoy yourself and thanks for stopping by!

  8. So happy to see that you are careful about the products you use. So many harmful chemicals in everyday things. I will check out your organic suggestions . I turned 65 last year and younger friends can’t believe all that I do. It’s thanks to the years in the garden!

    1. Hello Debi, thanks for stopping by. I agree that gardening will keep a person young and strong. Right now, I’m longing for spring and green. Come back soon!

  9. Joanna, I will be 68 this year and yes what you wrote in your article is so true. Every year I say I won’t garden, but as you mentioned the gratification, joy and pleasure it brings me is worth getting in the Epsom salt. The grandchildren love the fresh vegetables, the butterflies, bees, and humming birds. I have invested in many of the items you mentioned. However, I don’t have the netted hat. That is on my wish list with the netted shirt too. Thank you for your tips.

    1. Hello and thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I really do hope that I will never have to give up gardening. Enjoy your time in the garden. It will keep you young.

  10. Joanna-this article really hits home as I just turned sixty this past summer and first noticed having difficulty in the garden. I even wrote a chapter in my latest book which I named “The Later Years”, when I came to the realization that I am growing older and the garden and I will need to adjust. Your post is very informative and I am sure it will help many gardeners.

    1. Thank you, Lee, I’m happy you enjoyed the article. I’m not far behind you and each year I find that some things are a little harder. I really hate it, but overall I’m a much more content person now than when I was younger so I’ll deal with this aging thing. Thanks again for your compliments!

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