Tips for the Aging Gardener
I have a confession to make…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.
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 knee 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.
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.
Replace flowers that need lots of babying and weedy perennials, with lower maintenance perennials and shrubs that don’t need as much coddling.
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. We obtain our mulch for free thanks to relationships with local arborists. Purchasing mulch through a local supplier is also an option.
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 drip irrigation or a soaker hose to ease the burden of watering.
Asking for Help
One thing I’ve done for several years now is to ask for help. Advertise your need for help at your garden club, your church, in a local Facebook group, or a local neighborhood group. I appreciate the littles that pop by to help during our busy harvest season.
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.
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.
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 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 would likely be a very therapeutic and satisfying chore.
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 organic sunscreen and lip balm comes in handy.
Also be sure to protect your eyes from the sun’s rays by wearing sunglasses. Garden hats are also an option to protect your head and face from the sun.
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.
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.