The temps are heating up, the flowers are in bloom, and the windows are staying open to let in the fresh air and cool breeze. It must be spring – one of the most inspiring and colorful times of the year. It’s also the time when most of us start turning our attention to the outdoors, and making plans to plant a garden.
For older adults, gardening can be a great way to get exercise, learn a new skill to keep your mind sharp, and is an opportunity to spend time with loved ones. Container gardens especially, are ideal for seniors who have limited mobility or who have easier access to a patio area or deck than a larger yard.
Ready to put your green thumb to use? Below are some container gardening tips.
- Grow Vertically. Traditional gardens typically require to gardeners to kneel or squat to get closer to the earth. This can prove challenging for older adults who have arthritis and limited joint mobility. Vertical gardens make use of wall space, trellises, hanging baskets, garden towers and shelves so that you can tend to your plants and flowers by sitting or standing.
- Use Raised Beds. If you have a large patio area or yard space, consider adding a raised bed for easy gardening. The advantage of raised beds is its ability to be customized to the height that is best for you. Ideal for seniors who require a wheelchair, beds are often two to three feet tall, so you can sit while gardening.
- Try Pallet Gardening. Inexpensive (even free) wood pallets are popular with gardeners right now for good reason – they’re a great way to make use of a vertical space, like a wall, to grow flowers and herbs. Pallets can be found at Walmart and home improvement stores like Home Depot, where you can get them in a variety of sizes. Many small businesses that receive large items in bulk are willing to give their pallets away free of charge, however, these pallets may be broken in places and less sturdy than those you’d buy at a store.
- Choose Easy to Grow Plants. While it may be tempting to invest in a beautiful orchid, a delicate delphinium, or a gardenia bush, it’s often better for older adults to choose hardy and cooperative plants and flowers. The reason? The more upkeep your plants need, the more work it will take to keep them thriving. Native plants, from the region where you live, are your best bet for low maintenance gardening, so if you’re not in Florida, steer clear of the gardenias. Remember: gardens should reduce stress – not cause it.
- Garden in the Shade. Older adults are more susceptible to skin cancer. In fact, according to skincancer.org, between40 and 50 percent of people will have at least one skin cancer by the time they are 65, and the risk only increases as we age. Protect yourself from skin cancer and sun damage by planting container gardens in the shade. Here’s a great article on the kinds of plants that grow best in full and partial shade environments.
With a little planning, it’s not only possible to garden as an older adult, it’s encouraged. Gardening is a great way to keep yourself active, reduce stress, and beautify? the space around you.