Gardening resources to help seniors improve quality of life
Gardening is an activity relished by thousands of Australians of all ages, offering physical activity, skill development, interaction with nature and all the mental health benefits that come from pottering about in the garden. When it comes to seniors, gardening can become a well-loved hobby in retirement and a way to connect with a network of other keen green-fingered folk.
Over the past few months, seniors have been particularly vulnerable to the effects of social isolation — a situation that can be improved by finding a love for gardening.
Insteading — a company helping thousands of gardeners and homemakers grow their gardens and skills — has created a bumper trove of gardening resources, including those designed specifically for seniors.
Among information such as essential supplies and planting information, the guide explains how to create an accessible garden, along with safety tips and tool information. Resources are available for brand-new and seasoned gardeners, with the guide covering four important elements of senior gardening after retirement.
Creating an accessible garden
Gardening is a mentally and physically engaging activity that can be adapted for everyone to enjoy. Gardens can be designed to fit accessibility needs; for example, those with muscle or joint issues or who use a wheelchair would benefit from a garden set-up that’s right for them.
Raised beds allow gardeners to access their plots without having to bend or kneel. Raised beds also provide better control over the garden’s soil quality and temperature, which allows a higher-quality crop and yield than traditional beds.
When it comes to harvesting crops, having plants at an easy-to-access level makes the process safer and easier.
Insteading’s guide helps gardeners pick the right raised bed for their needs, highlighting the main points of consideration. There are also options for those with limited space or who live in apartments.
Other accessibility tips point to establishing wide pathways and installing a drip irrigation system to remove the need to move the hose from one area of a garden to another. Drip irrigation systems also save water, prevent weeds, help control fungal diseases and are adaptable to a variety of garden layouts and systems.
As well as the safety benefits of an accessible garden, Insteading highlights safety tips to keep in mind. These include skin, sun and heat protection, fall prevention, as well as considerations for joints and muscles.
Benefits of gardening
Insteading encourages seniors to get their green thumbs out to enjoy the many quality-of-life benefits of gardening, including mental and physical health benefits as well as opportunities to build communities.
The team at Insteading explained that gardening can be a social activity that provides seniors with the opportunity to develop friendships with those that have similar interests.
“Local community gardens offer seniors the opportunity to tend their own designated gardening plot while interacting with others that are doing the same,” Insteading’s Leigha Staffenhagen said.
“Many of these community gardens organise gardening clubs and activities that seniors can get involved in to meet others.
“In addition to community gardening, local food co-ops and senior centres are great resources to help find gardening-related events going on in the community. Gardening classes and workshops provide seniors with helpful information they can apply in their own gardens and offer a place for gardeners to meet one another and discuss ideas.”
Tools of the trade
The guide summarises the important tools and supplies that are needed to help gardeners get started. These include items that will help make gardening simple and enjoyable for seniors.
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