In the UK, there are around 27 million people who partake in gardening. It’s never too late to take up this wonderful hobby. It’s something you can continue to enjoy as you get older and even when you begin to experience a few lifestyle changes. Regardless of any restrictions, you may have, you can modify your garden to suit your needs while still being able to express yourself.
Gardening as you get older
One of the great things about gardening is it is a hobby that can be easily adapted as you get older. From the type of plants you grow to the tools you use; you can change the way you do things to make garden maintenance easier. Here are a few useful tips to consider:
Opt for lighter tools
Expert Alexandra Campbell recommends ‘Using the new generation of lighter tools. New technology means that tools can be light, but still strong.’ You can also buy tools specially made for those with mobility issues.
Table top planting and raised beds
Another option is to consider table top planting and growing plants that can be cared for at a higher level, which means less bending over. One of the most common ways older people modify their garden to suit their requirements is to have raised beds. These can obviate the need to bend, crouch and, more importantly for some, get up from a kneeling position.
Listen to your body
The key here is not to do too much. Know your limits and enjoy your hobby as and when you can manage it.
Gardening keeps you active
There is no doubt that continuing to exercise regularly as you get older offers some great benefits. It decreases the likelihood of deterioration of mind and body. It has been shown to delay the onset of many conditions, including arthritis. Some minor modifications might be required, but these need not impinge on your ability to enjoy your pastime while still being creative.
It’s no surprise that communities who are famed for living longer have gardening in common, with some individuals gardening well into their 80’s and 90’s.
What effect does gardening have on your wellbeing?
Remaining active is not the only advantage of gardening as you get older. It nourishes the mind as well as the body and has been proven to reduce stress. A Harvard study found that people surrounded by lush greenery lived longer. Did you know that simply gazing at green plants can lift your mood?
Studies have also found that those who do gardening regularly have a 36% lower risk of dementia than those who don’t. Pottering about with a trowel is wonderful for the person holding it, as well as the plants.
The feeling of connecting with nature is one that increases as the year progresses. The bulbs you plant late one year are there the following spring. You feed the plants and they feed your mind and body and, perhaps, even your soul.
It’s why many people get into gardening when they retire because it offers a new and rewarding focus. There’s something very therapeutic about growing and nurturing living things, and the creativity that goes with maintaining a beautiful backyard.
How gardening can help you meet new people
There is a community spirit between gardeners, both online and in clubs and meetings. If you prefer meeting like-minded people face to face, then most garden centres will have advice and help for those needing to either change their methods of gardening or take up the hobby in later life. Many provide classes where you can bounce ideas off people just like you, as well as provide mutual help.
Despite the image given on television of a person dallying about in a potting shed, gardening can be very social, but only if you want it to be. If you want to explore the social side of gardening, have a look to see if there are any local groups you can join.
You can also meet up with friends who share your passion and discuss gardening tactics, perhaps over coffee or whilst shopping for new plants and tools. If it’s online advice and support you’re after, Age UK has some handy resources including tips from TV experts and fellow enthusiasts.
The benefits of creating your own fresh produce
A packet of seeds is very cheap. Tend to their needs and your reward will be a blaze of colour in the spring. Or, if your enthusiasm moves you more towards vegetables, you will have the added bonus of being able to eat your own produce straight from the plants. It doesn’t get tastier than that.
Furthermore, you can enjoy the fruits of your labour knowing they’ve been grown fresh, in your garden, with no nasties or chemicals used. One of the main health benefits is the food retains more nutrients and vitamins, as it’s not been transported and stored. Plus, spending some time outdoors will ensure you get a healthy dose of vitamin D (just make sure you wear sun cream to protect your skin).