Keeping Active: Tips for Senior Gardening

By Lea Schneider, Home and Garden Expert

Plant a new interest for the senior you love by creating a space where they can garden. Whether they’re lifelong gardeners unable to tend to their traditional plantings or just searching for a new hobby, gardening can provide a host of benefits for seniors.

Keeping an eye on plants and making sure they are watered is the perfect excuse for getting your senior up and outside each day. Not only does it give a change in routine, but it could be a boost to their spirits. According to Medical News Today, scientists have learned contact with friendly bacteria found in soil can even act like antidepressants to the brain.

Gardening is a hobby for every age. With a few safety tips tricks in mind, seniors can easily garden. If you are not sure what your senior can manage, keep in mind that gardening can be as small as a few pots and some seeds or as large as a raised bed of blooms. Here are a few ideas to help you get started.

Raise It Up
There are lots of ways to garden without getting down on the ground or bending over. This means even those who use a wheelchair or a walker can participate. Raised beds, tall planters, plant stands, window boxes and hanging planters can all keep plants up high and within easy reach.

Keep It Safe
Rearrange the outdoor space with the goal to keep a clear path. It is ideal to plan for a five-foot-wide path to allow a wheelchair to be able to turn around. Move any pots or furniture so there is plenty of space to walk and move around. A basket by the door to hold garden clogs or shoes will keep them contained so no one trips over them.

Add a hose reel so the hose can be wound up—leaving it lying around becomes a trip hazard. Use a hose nozzle that allows water flow to be controlled with a squeeze. This way the hose will not drip water on the floor as it is moved between planters. If the hose becomes too heavy for your senior to maneuver, a small watering can is an easy alternative.

Make It Easy
Find patio furniture that can make the gardening experience more comfortable. Place a sturdy cushioned bench or chair in the senior’s gardening area so they can take a rest as needed or just sit to enjoy the garden. Choose one that stays steady, because a rocker, glider, swing or swivel chair is harder to get in and out of safely.

A carpenter’s apron is great for storing handheld gardening tools. Slipping a small hand trowel, hand rake and pruners in the apron keeps them handy and prevents needing to bend over to retrieve them. An empty bucket is lightweight and easy to use to collect leaves or spent blooms for the trash.

Pour a bag of potting soil into a large bucket with lid. It is much easier to scoop out of a sturdy bucket than a bag that tips over and spills. If you choose potting soil with added nutrients, your senior will not need to handle additional fertilizer. In a hot, dry area, using a soil that contains moisture control ingredients will help the plants stay healthy between watering.

On top of the health benefits of getting up and outside each day to tend to their garden, seniors will find having this renewed interest sparks new ideas for conversations—a boost for keeping the mind active, too!
Lea Schneider is a professional organizer who writes for The Home Depot. She shares great tips for everyone from kids to seniors on how to arrange patio furniture to prevent injuries and stay safe. You can find more patio ideas here at The Home Depot.
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