Gardening is great exercise. All that digging, weeding, mowing lawns and cutting hedges helps to keep muscles strong and hearts healthy. But even the most enthusiastic gardener has to slow down as the years go by. If the hobby that once gave you so much pleasure is now causing aches and pains, nature is telling you itâ€™s time for a rethink. You donâ€™t have to give up gardening altogether, but you can almost certainly make it easier. Here are a few ideas you might like to consider:
Make a list of all the different jobs you do in the garden and mark the ones you are finding the most difficult. Brainstorm to find ways of reducing, or even eliminating, those particular tasks. For example, installing a simple irrigation system could save you many trips with a heavy watering can in dry weather.
Aim higher. One of the most common problems for older gardeners is getting down to the ground. When bending, stooping or kneeling is uncomfortable â€“ or even impossible â€“ explore ways of lifting plants up to your level. Raised beds that you can easily reach when standing or sitting are practical and attractive. Wall-mounted planters come in a wide range of materials and styles to match your house and garden and can be fixed to exactly the height that suits you. And, for a colourful but easily maintained feature, how about a tiered stand on which you can arrange a number of hanging baskets?
Choose your plants with care. Do you have formal flowerbeds that you fill with a succession of different bulbs and bedding plants throughout the seasons? Consider using more perennials that can stay in the same place for several years, perhaps with easy-to-grow annual seeds sprinkled between them. A collection of deciduous and evergreen shrubs, under planted with drifts of spring bulbs, will provide year-round colour and interest in return for minimal maintenance.
Check your tools. Good gardening tools can last a lifetime, but if it now takes almost as much effort to lift that heavy spade as it does to dig with it you need to lighten up! Visit a garden centre that stocks a good selection of tools and try out different brands for size, weight and ease of use. Look out for tools that have been designed for disabled gardeners. Many of them, like long-handled trowels or easy-to-grip pruners, make gardening easier for everyone.
Donâ€™t give up the veg! If youâ€™ve been enjoying your own home-grown vegetables and fruit you wonâ€™t want to give them up for supermarket produce. But if you use traditional growing methods that include lots of winter digging, now would be a good time to consider switching to a raised bed system. Thereâ€™s no need for deep digging and closer planting means you get the same yield from a smaller space â€“ with fewer weeds! You can also grow a surprising number of fruits, vegetables and salad crops in containers. Imagine sitting comfortably on your patio and picking perfectly ripened strawberries!Â
Ask an expert. Redesigning a garden to make it easier to manage doesnâ€™t mean covering most of it with concrete or paving. Often, a small change, such as altering steep steps, can make a big difference. Check your local professional landscape gardeners and find one who will be happy to visit your garden and give you a free, no obligation consultation. You might be pleasantly surprised by some of his or her suggestions.