Less of Sid James and Barbara Windsor cavorting behind the garden shed, and more about wondering how to ensure gardening continues to be the joyful pastime that it is for so many older people. We’ve found lots of good advice and some useful websites to help you out – whatever type of outdoor space or garden – and however much or little help might be needed.
Our personal favourite is indeed called Carry on Gardening, which is the strapline for national charity Thrive, set up to help people of all ages and disabilities to return to gardening. Its full of really practical advice including a guide to tools, as well as specific advice for individual conditions. Well worth a look, but in the meantime here are our top tips.
Build raised beds – Raised beds are much easier to weed and maintain as they require less bending; pots and hanging baskets are another great alternative to regular borders. Use mulches and membranes to cut down weeding.
Pick your plants – Home grown veg and fruit is not only delicious and extremely satisfying, but is a great year-round gardening project, and can be relatively low maintenance if you choose well. Don’t just grass over the veg patch if you think your parents can no longer manage. It may have been a real labour of love over the years, and there are some easy to grow and maintain veg and soft fruit: onions broad beans, carrots, spinach for example, as well as rhubarb, gooseberries and many herbs which keep going all year round.
If its flowers you’re after, consider a cutting patch close to the house, for year-round flowers at home. Another thing to consider might be more of a sensory garden – strongly scented plants such as sweet peas and roses; touch through grasses, bark and leaves; taste sensations with containers of verbena, strawberries and edible flowers, and listening to grasses or popping seedheads;
Birds and the bees – Its not just the plants that you can encourage, but birds, bees and butterflies (not to mention snails and slugs…); a bird table is a focal point all year round – and often a good incentive to get out of the house even briefly to fill up the bird feeder….
Light and Shade – Garden benches and shady areas are a good idea to incorporate into a garden.
Lawns and paths – lawns don’t have to be mown every week. You may want to consider reducing the amount of lawn there is. Make sure paths and surfaces are level and safe, with turning spaces and handrails if necessary.
Watering – Improve existing watering arrangements with a water butt attached to a lightweight push-along mobile hose cart; or put in a watering system – which doesn’t need to cover the whole garden but just the most important plants. There are some very cost effective solutions.
Tools – Lightweight tools might be a consideration, along with long-handled tools such as forks and spades. And of course kneelers, long-handled secateurs etc., there are many ranges of excellent adapted gardening equipment available.
Invite others to garden the garden – If space allows, you could ask someone to take some of the garden for their own gardening needs in exchange for managing your parents garden. They get a garden and your parents get a maintained garden. Below are some useful links:
If you’ve helped your parents adapt their garden according to their abilities, please let us know on the forum today.