Gardening is a wonderful pastime enjoyed by all ages. As we get older, it’s a great way to keep active and enjoy the outdoors. However, we also understand that the lifting and bending can make things a little difficult.
Keep reading for lots of useful tips and good advice to help you keep gardening. Whatever type of garden you or your parents have and however much or little help they might need.
Top tips to make gardening easier for the elderly
Build raised garden beds
There are many advantages to raised garden beds for older people. Raised beds are much easier to weed and maintain as they require less bending. There are number of other advantages to raised beds, including control over soil type and keeping pests out.
Read more in our complete guide to raised beds for elderly gardeners.
Gardening tools for the elderly
Having the right tools for the job is a mantra we’ve heard many times. So as we get older, it’s worth considering an investment in lightweight tools and long-handled forks, spades and secateurs – of course kneelers are a must for dodgy knees!
There are many ranges of excellently adapted gardening equipment available. We recommend taking a look at the garden tools available from Crocus.
Care and maintenance of your garden tools is also important, to keep them as useful as possible, but also to save money having to replace them, and you might find this guide from Porch.com useful.
Pick your plants carefully
Plant low maintenance crops. For vegetables, onions and shallots are very low maintenance. Other easy to grow veg are broad beans, carrots, spinach and chard. Buy plug plants if you want to skip the seed sowing stage. Herbs such as rosemary, sage, chives and thyme keep going all year round and require little maintenance. Perennials such as rhubarb, globe artichoke, camomile and gooseberry only require one planting and keep coming back year on year.
Sensory gardens are great for older people living with dementia or sensory impairments. Scents from Sweet Peas, Pelargoniums and Roses can stimulate memories. Touch can be stimulated from Stachys and Bergenia leaves, tree barks and grasses. Verbena, Strawberries and edible flowers are a taste sensation. And the garden will come alive with audio stimulation by planting grasses or popping seedheads like Love-In-A-Mist. All will encourage birdsong, butterflies and bees for an idyllic English country 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, and consider edging with wood or metal to cut down on hand trimming. You might also want to consider more hard landscaping and pathways to reduce maintenance. However, make sure paths and surfaces are level and safe, with turning spaces and handrails if necessary.
Improve existing watering arrangements with a convenient water butt attached to a lightweight push-along mobile hose cart, or put in a watering system. This doesn’t need to cover the whole garden but just the most important plants. There are some very cost effective solutions available.
Birdtables and feeders
Birdwatching is a lovely pastime. Bird tables and feeders make it easy to enjoy the different birds that visit a garden, particularly during the winter months. It’s also good exercise to have to replenish the bird food every now and again.
If space allows, you could ask someone to take some of your parent’s garden for their own gardening needs in exchange for sharing its management.
They get a garden and your parents get theirs maintained!
The benefits of gardening for the elderly
There are a number of reasons why gardening is great for the elderly.
Spending time outdoors
Spending time outdoors boosts Vitamin D, which helps older people to keep healthy.
Eating fresh and nutritious produce
If your relative is growing fruit and veg, they can enjoy the health benefits of eating fresh and nutritious produce. It might work out cheaper than going to the shops also!
Gardening involves exercise – a manageable amount. Watering plants, walking round the garden and bending over to plant seeds are all good exercise for an older person.
Gardening provides mental stimulation for older people. Making plans for the garden, remembering to water plants, and the satisfaction of a successful garden are all beneficial.
Indoor gardening for the elderly
You don’t need outdoor space in order to have a garden. Indoor gardening for the elderly is easier, and can be just as rewarding.
Whether you are looking to grow your own herbs, or just look after some flowers and plants that can spruce up the inside of your home, many plants are suitable for indoor gardening.
Placing indoor plants
Lounge windowsills are ideal for potted plants. You can also hang indoor plants from curtain rails, perch them on books, dressers and bookshelves, or even just stand them on their own. Investing in some nice plant pots and stands, can be a great way of brightening up your home.
Plus, there are proven psychological benefits including; reducing stress, increased recovery time from an illness, and theraputic properties for people with anxiety and dementia.
Where to buy plants for indoors
You can buy plants for indoors from your local garden centre – but be sure to check that you are choosing plants that are content with the level of light that they will receive inside.
You can also purchase indoor garden plants online, from websites such as Bloom & Wild. They will deliver them to your home, and tend to provide lots of useful information about how best to care for them.