Gardening is a fun and healthy outdoor hobby for people of all ages. For seniors, however, it’s a way to stay physically active and healthy while doing something that’s relaxing and personally fulfilling. Yet, it can easily become grueling labor if you’re not careful about what, where, and how to care for your garden. Seniors may be restricted in their mobility and the amount of time they can spend outside in hot weather, so a large, work-intensive space probably isn’t a good lifestyle choice for older adults. Planting a garden you can manage easily will help keep costs under control and increase the likelihood you’ll be successful. Remember, the idea is to have fun and stay active, not get caught up in a protracted struggle with high-maintenance plants.
You probably won’t get much relaxation from tending a garden that covers 75 percent of your backyard, so take care to set aside a small area, something that’s realistic based on your physical condition and capabilities. If the physical aspect of landscaping and lawn maintenance is an issue, save money and labor by reducing the size of your lawn with ground cover, pebbles, or flagstones. (If you’re unable to mow the lawn, consider hiring a mowing service, or save money by asking a young relative or neighbor for some help.)
Using raised growing beds is a great way for seniors to manage available space, maintain easy access, and establish a growing plot that’s just the right size. For the heavier lifting, save time, money, and labor by asking a younger family member to pitch in, or offer the job to an enterprising young person who’s looking to make a few dollars. If all else fails, you can purchase a raised bed without spending a fortune if you shop sales.
You may have certain plants in mind for your garden, maybe something you’ve always loved and wanted to try and grow. It’s tempting to go out and plant everything you want, but if you select plants that don’t do well in your native soil and need lots of care, you could end up draining all the fun (and money) out of what should be an enjoyable hobby.
Stick with something that’s recommended for your USDA hardiness zone, plants that don’t need as much water and will prove hardy when things get hot and dry. You’ll avoid losing money by going with plants that thrive in your area. Always take careful notice of your lawn’s condition, including where it’s shady and what part gets the most sunlight, and be sure to do your homework so you understand what level of care will be required for the plants you choose.
Tools and Supplies
Make sure you have the right tools to take care of a garden, and which you feel comfortable handling on your own. If cost is a factor, watch for online deals and clearance sales through retailers like Lowe’s. Be sure that your gardening tools are ergonomically designed, aren’t too heavy, can be used easily, and make it easier to reach and take care of the plants in your beds.
Anything you can do to minimize the work intensity level in your garden is well worth it. For example, mulching not only helps your garden space retain valuable moisture, but it’s also a cost-effective way to cut down on weeding, a necessary but back-breaking duty that will sap the energy out of any gardener. Limit the variety of plants in your space to keep maintenance demands at a manageable level and give you a more satisfying gardening experience. (Be sure to have your soil tested by the county extension office so you know what kind of preparatory care your soil will need.) Always stay well-hydrated and protect your hands and eyes.
Your garden will be easier to manage, less costly, and require less hard work if you choose the right plants for your area, utilize raised growing beds, and limit the number of different plants to just a few. Watch for online deals and coupons at major retailers, and don’t overspend on tools you won’t need or be able to use effectively.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
Many thanks to Bret with DIYGUYS.net for contributing to the blog!