“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul,” said Alfred Austin in his book, Growing with the Seasons. And for people of all ages, gardening is an excellent way to get some exercise, feel the sun on your face, and relax without the pressures of the world beating down on you. Planting fruits and vegetables, creating flower beds, and sitting back to enjoy the fruits of your labor truly does feed your body, mind, and soul.
When bodies age, however, bending over to weed and water can take more of a toll. The benefits of gardening far outweigh the risks, however, especially if you take a few safety measures.
Adding a seat to your garden can give you the rest you need while also offering a place to overlook and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Plant native vegetables and flowers together in a raised bed to enjoy the beauty and nutritional value that a garden can offer.
Vegetables that already grow in your area will result in a higher yield without a lot of hassle. Thinking about what you plant beforehand will allow you to make the most of your time and energy in the garden.
By raising your flower beds, you can plant and harvest without as much bending, which will certainly be easier on your back, joints, and balance. Make sure to use a bed that isn’t too wide so you can reach all sides without straining.
Allowing plants like beans and peas to grow on a trellis saves space, beautifies your garden, and alleviates the need to kneel.
Growing herbs and other plants in containers makes your garden more flexible and accessible while alleviating the need for walking on uneven ground.
Using high quality pruners places the brunt of the work in the tools rather than your wrists and hands.
There are several little changes you can make will bring big results for your gardening experience, including:
Wearing gloves as you garden will protect your hands and help you to grip the lightweight tools more easily.
Find a neighbor, family member, or professional to cut the lawn, take care of edging, and till the soil for you. Getting help with spring cleanups can also save you time and energy while you enjoy the planting and designing aspects of your garden.
Enlist the help of family members and neighbors to do the heavy weeding so that you can enjoy the fun parts of gardening.
The same goes for the fall. When the final harvesting is done, get some younger muscles to help you with the tear-down process. By outsourcing the labor to a neighbor, relative, or professional, you will be able to enjoy the benefits of a beautiful garden without all of the associated aches and pains.
Fall cleanups become more difficult as you age, so get assistance from helpful friends and family to make sure your garden is ready to roll in the spring.
As you age, safety tips become more important to heed to keep gardening safe and enjoyable. When you go out to the garden, make sure to wear sunscreen and bug spray to avoid sunburns and bug bites.
Also, make sure to drink plenty of water, as seniors are especially prone to dehydration. Wearing a hat will also keep the sun off your face and keep you healthier. Finally, gardening in early morning or late afternoons/evenings will keep you safer and out of the heat of the day. With these tips in mind, you can avoid some of the common pitfalls that make gardening more difficult for seniors.
In addition to offering physical benefits, gardening can improve your mood. Science Daily reports, "Accessibility to everyday green and blue spaces encourages seniors to simply get out the door. This, in turn, motivates them to be active physically, spiritually, and socially, which can offset chronic illness, disability, and isolation." Time in the garden helps you in all aspects of life. Vitamin D from the sun is a mood-booster, and being out in nature can lower your blood pressure and give you a sense of peace.
You can also experience greater autonomy by planning and executing your garden, which can also improve your mood and general standard of living. Plus, you’ll be more likely to eat better with all the healthy foods you grow. The benefits to growing a garden are plentiful and easily outweigh any related risks, particularly when you plan ahead and set yourself up for success.
Some activities are bound to become more difficult over time, but with a little ingenuity and creative thinking, you will still be able to enjoy them. Gardening really is glorious, and with your hands in the dirt and your face in the sun, you can reap the benefits for your body, mind and soul. Whether you choose to raise your beds, plant lower maintenance plants, or employ the use of gardening gadgets or grandchildren to help you, there are many ways to combat the negative impacts of aging while allowing yourself to continue enjoying the benefits of gardening.