Gardening tips for older adults

Posted at 1:10 PM, Apr 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-21 13:10:39-04

Spring is here, and doesn’t it feel good to put away the snow shovels, and get out the gardening trough? Besides being an enjoyable hobby and a great way to get some much-needed Vitamin D after the long winter — gardening has many health benefits.

It’s exercise without seeming like exercise: pulling weeds can increase strength; bending and reaching improve mobility and flexibility; and staying in the garden a long time can improve endurance. Beyond the physical benefits, it can be something social to do with a spouse, friend or neighbor, as well as a great way to relieve stress.

A lifelong love of gardening should not have to end, despite how physically taxing it can seem with age. Here are some simple tips for staying active in the garden, no matter your age.

Invest in the right tools
Look for lightweight hand tools with rubber or comfortable handles. If you already have good gardening tools, consider wrapping the handle in foam tubing like the kind used in pipe insulation. The foam is inexpensive and you can find it at any hardware store. Using tools like handle extenders or reachers can reduce bending and stretching and is highly recommended if you have back problems.

Build raised beds
Reduce the amount of bending and stretching by raising the garden bed. Stand with your arms at your side; the perfect height for a flower bed is where your fingertips touch.

Consider container gardens
Containers are easier to manage than a garden and can be great for planting colorful flowers as well as vegetables. Make use of old wheelbarrows, chairs or buckets for a fun do it yourself project. Deeper containers work well for vegetables.

Plan for year-round gardening
Replace annuals in your garden with perennials or bulbs that require less work to maintain from year to year. You can plant bulbs all through the summer and late into fall, allowing you to stagger planting times and choose plants that bloom at different times.

This article originally appeared on Your Time, a resource for older adults produced by Community First Solutions in Hamilton, Ohio.