“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt,” according to renowned novelist and poet Margaret Atwood. She apparently appreciates gardening, as do many of our residents at Aston Gardens retirement communities in Florida. Although nurturing plants for food or for the beauty of blooms is in itself a worthy pastime, there are many other benefits to gardening, as well. The following are some helpful tips for seniors, especially those new to gardening, and some great reasons to soil your hands with spadework.
Helpful Gardening Tips
Diving into a new hobby often involves buying tools and supplies unique to the activity. Money can be ill-spent in the pursuit of a new passion, without a clear vision of how to find success. Why not approach gardening with seeds of advice from experts? Gardening can be done more efficiently, more quickly, and with less mess, if you heed the following expert tips:
- Gardening can be hard work, but some of the strain can literally be lightened. Your large pots and planters will weigh less if you fill the bottom of them with packing peanuts, to one-third or one-half full. Place landscape fabric over the packing peanuts before adding potting soil. For an even lighter load, use a potting soil that contains a lot of peat moss and vermiculite.
- Gardening can create a lot of mess, but here is an idea that will protect the car you transport new plants in as well as the plants themselves. Line the trunk or seat with plastic tarp. Next, place a small, folded step ladder on top of the plastic. The spaces between the ladder rungs are ideal compartments for placing your fragile plants and preventing them from tipping and spilling over in transit.
- As your garden grows, keeping track of your plants can become complicated. Why not create a detailed record of your greenery using an inexpensive photo album? Place the plant tags and sticks for each gardening season in the book, including information about where each was purchased and where it is planted. Adding photographs, sketches, and information from horticultural magazines can be fun, helpful, and a further opportunity to express your creativity.
- Ultimately, successful gardening is as much an art as it is a hobby. Journaling about your gardening successes and failures can help you make improvements from year to year.
- If you would like to make the most of a small gardening space, use trellising in order to grow up as opposed to growing out. Use vertical supports as much as possible. Among the vegetables that are commonly trellised are cucumbers, tomatoes, and climbing varieties of pole beans and peas. It may be necessary to weave plants carefully through a trellis as they grow.
- Do some research into the plants you choose for your outdoor garden. Many plants have aggressive underground root systems that can prevent other plants from getting the nutrients they need. All you need to do to keep an aggressive plant under control is to cut out the bottom of the container it’s in and place the entire container beneath the soil. The roots will grow down into the soil below the container.
- Simplify the task of potting your plants by placing the soil in a wheelbarrow and a piece of fitted plywood over the back end, using wood cleats to hold it in place. The flat surface created by the plywood can be used for your hand tools, gloves, and plants.
Adjustments to Assist the Elderly with Gardening
Some aspects of the physical stress of gardening must be reduced for the elderly. Fortunately, it’s entirely possible to make adjustments and continue gardening beyond the years of being able to kneel and work in the dirt. The following are some helpful tips:
- Check hardware stores for adaptive gardening equipment such as easier to handle, lightweight tools.
- Modify existing tools with plastic tubing, foam, and tape, for a better grip.
- Garden comfortably using stable tables and chairs.
- Work in the shade during hot summer months.
- Raise garden beds, to avoid the need for stooping, bending, and kneeling.
- Use retractable hanging baskets.
Gardening Safety for Seniors
There are certain risks involved with gardening, and special care should be taken to prevent potential problems from becoming serious issues. The following tips will help keep seniors safe:
- On days when temperatures are high, garden early in the morning or when it’s almost dusk.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water or sports drinks like Gator-Aide.
- Wear a hat, protective shoes, and gardening gloves. Cover all exposed skin with clothes that are lightweight and comfortable.
- Immediately tend to any insect bites, cuts, and bruises.
- Safely store gardening equipment and tools.
Many of our residents at Aston Gardens retirement community in Florida who love gardening have learned that the activity has many benefits, including some that are unexpected. Learn more in this continuing series.
Aston Gardens At Parkland Commons provides senior living options for those ready to start the next chapter of their lives. Learn about senior living programs, amenities, and rooms today. Contact us now at 954.340.1908.