Home Gardening Tips
If you love to get your hands dirty but don’t love to stoop and bend, a new generation of garden ideas can help you grow veggies, herbs and flowers while standing or sitting in a lawn chair or wheelchair. The row gardens most of us grew up with have given way to raised beds and smartly designed containers that are beautiful to look at and are much easier on gardeners’ joints and muscles. Adaptive garden design is gaining popularity as homeowners, senior communities, and cities look for ways to make gardening accessible to everyone.
In honor of National Lawn and Garden Month this April, we’ve gathered our six top home gardening tips for older gardeners:
1. Skip the digging
Traditional gardeners were taught to dig up and turn over the soil in a new garden. Digging can improve the soil, but it can also wreak havoc on your back, neck, hips, and shoulders. An easier choice is to use containers, raised beds, or adaptive planters – and leave the shovel in the shed.
2. Bring the garden to you
Be kind to your back by creating a garden space using some or all of these options:
Raised beds typically range in height from 12 to 24 inches. You can buy snap-together kits made of recycled plastic or cedar or you can make your own. Woodworker Ana White has DIY plans for 1-foot tall raised beds made from about $10 worth of cedar pickets.
Metal stock tanks are an extremely durable option, and they’re less likely than open-bottom raised beds to be overtaken by runner-spreading weeds. Drill drain holes along the sides, fill with soil and you’re ready to grow. You can also paint the tanks and set them on cinder blocks, as readers of the Northwest Edible Life blog did, with stunning results.
Narrow, table-height planter boxes let you garden while seated on a stool or in a wheelchair. Some, like the VegTrug, are made to stand on a deck or patio and can be covered during cold weather. If a specialty planter isn’t in the budget, try growing in small containers on a sturdy outdoor table.
Get creative with traditional containers. Hanging baskets, window boxes, and deck-rail planters are usually easier to reach than planters set on the ground.
3. Clear a safe path
Whatever you use for your garden pathways should be stable, level, non-slip, and easy to maintain. It should also be wide enough to give you room to maneuver. Wheelchair users need about five feet of turning-radius room, according to the University of Minnesota Extension Service.
4. Use the right tools
Fiskars SoftGrip tools are a popular choice because they’re light and easy to hold. You can extend your reach with long handled pruners and spare yourself hand cramps by using a water wand with trigger clip.
5. Pick the right plants
Good choices for raised beds and containers include most root and leaf vegetables, tomatoes and peppers, herbs, and many perennial flowers. If your reach is limited, look for varieties that will stay small and manageable. And if vision changes make it hard to enjoy visual details, consider choosing plants for their fragrance, such as mint and jasmine, or for their texture, such as lamb’s ear.
6. Recruit garden helpers
Gardening can be great for quiet contemplation, but it’s also good for chatting with neighbors and spending time with family. Invite visiting grandkids to help you deadhead spent perennials, pick peas, and other simple tasks. You’ll be helping the next generation of gardeners learn the ropes and getting an extra hand while you enjoy your garden.
Attention Senior Living Communities!
In honor of National Garden Month, we are having a Garden Photo Contest on our Facebook page! Show off your resident’s community garden for your chance to win $100 worth of flowers for your garden! Click here to enter: http://woobox.com/38ai4j