“For the last 40 years of my life, I have broken my back, my fingernails, and sometimes my heart, in the practical pursuit of my favorite occupation.” So wrote the passionate gardener Vita Sackville-West. Indeed, there’s no denying that gardening can be physically challenging — after all, it’s classified as moderate-intensity physical activity by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There’s also no denying that gardening can become increasingly difficult as you get older. But that doesn’t mean you have to throw in the trowel — with a few adjustments you’ll find gardening made easy for seniors.
1. Raise Your Garden Beds
If getting down on the ground is difficult, bring the ground up to you. Raised beds eliminate the need for stooping and kneeling, and can be built from a variety of materials in layouts to suit your space and style. One of the simplest approaches to raised beds is to use straw bales as a base. Or you can go vertical, using containers, walls, arbors or fences to create easily accessible garden space.
2. Boost Your Towing Capacity
Pickup trucks have a payload — a maximum amount of weight they can safely carry. In a way, you do, too. As you get older and your personal capacity for carrying weight decreases, you’ll need to find new ways to boost your payload. Although a wheelbarrow is an iconic gardening cart, a garden wagon can be a better choice. Pulling a wagon is easier on your body than pushing a wheelbarrow. And with a wagon, you don’t have to bear any of the weight yourself, as you do with a wheelbarrow. In addition to being perfect for hauling bags of mulch or fresh-picked produce across the yard, a wagon can carry all your tools in one trip, eliminating the back-and-forth to the garden shed that can tax your energy and patience.
Another tip for convenient tool storage: Install a metal mailbox in your garden and use it to store your trowel, clippers or other handheld implements.
3. Choose the Best Tools
Arthritis or a lack of strength in your hands can make some garden gadgets difficult to use, and creaky knees can make it challenging to get down on the ground to weed regularly. But ergonomic tools and other adaptive devices can help. Look for lightweight tools with larger than normal handles, which are often curved to help minimize the amount of effort required to accomplish a task. Exchange heavy rubber garden hoses for hoses made of lighter, more flexible material. And try a scuffle hoe to keep your garden weed-free without having to get down on your hands and knees.
4. Take a Seat
A portable garden bench allows you to sit comfortably while tending your plants. For a no-frills approach, turn a 5-gallon bucket upside down and use that as your seat. Or go for versatility by choosing a bench that doubles as a padded kneeler with handles, which can help you push yourself back up to your feet more easily. And if you don’t have one already, consider installing a park bench or other outdoor seating in your garden. You’ll be able to take breaks as often as you need to while enjoying the lovely results of your labors.
5. Keep Safety in Mind
Gardening made easier for seniors should also be gardening made safe. While there are numerous health benefits to gardening — from the physical activity to the wholesome effect of spending time outdoors — taking safety precautions is still necessary to protect your health. Here are some tips to keep in mind while you’re gardening:
- Bring your cell phone outside with you. You’ll be able to contact help quickly if something goes awry.
- Wear sunscreen. Most cases of skin cancer are found in adults age 65 and older. You can reduce your risk of skin cancer by using sunscreen, and wearing a wide-brimmed hat and lightweight clothes that cover your legs and arms.
- Drink plenty of water. Older adults are at greater risk of dehydration than younger age groups, so consider bringing a bottle of water outside with you and take frequent breaks for hydration.
- Work in the shade. Whenever possible, choose garden tasks that will allow you to take advantage of the shade, which can help reduce the risk of illnesses, like heat stroke.
An Active Lifestyle Made Easy at Timber Ridge at Talus
At Timber Ridge at Talus, not only is gardening made easy for seniors, but so many of life’s adventures — and possibilities — are right outside your door. Here, a maintenance-free lifestyle, enriching amenities and a breathtaking setting near the Cascade Mountain Range, give active older adults the opportunity to spend their days hiking, gardening, or playing bocce ball and their evenings meeting friends in the cocktail lounge or sitting down to an exquisite, chef-prepared meal. Contact us to find out more about a luxurious, active lifestyle made easy at Timber Ridge.