A few years ago, I had the privilege of teaching my Container Gardening Secret Sauce workshop to a group of lovely seniors at the Phoenixville Senior Center. They were a fun and engaging group. Several of the attendees approached me before the talk and shared how they had a large garden for years but now 'just couldn't do it any more.' I could relate since just a few days before I had been out planting my containers and came in stiff and sore. Other folks had moved to apartments or assisted living and were attending the workshop looking for ways that they could grow a few plants indoors or on their patios.
I started The Relaxed Gardener to provide people with ways to spend less time working in their gardens and more time enjoying them. I also wanted folks to not feel like they had to completely give up gardening as they got older, but rather find ways to pare back what they were doing so they could still enjoy gardening even when some aspects just became physically impossible. (That's why all of our tools are designed to be ergonomic, comfortable and reduce hand strain.)
Read on for 5 Tips to help you keep on gardening!
1. Reduce the Number of Beds You Need to Maintain
When I moved into my home I was working part time and was a lot younger. The property has lots and lots of beds - a true gardeners delight and an endless pallet for me to express my creativity. However, when I started my first business, I found that I just did not have time to maintain all of them. Several had waves of plants that I just did not really like and would have required a great deal of time and money to get in shape. So I removed those beds. I ripped out the plants I did not like. In one case, we had to remove a very tall tree that was diseased and becoming a danger to the house. When I had it removed the surrounding bed was removed as well. This allowed me to focus on a few beds and really make them shine.
2. Plant Low Maintenance Trees, Shrubs, and Perennials
In the beds that you have remaining plant lots of low maintenance trees, shrubs and perennials. Annuals require replanting every year. By planting trees, shrubs and perennials you can have lots of beautiful foliage and flowers throughout the year. And by skipping the annuals, you save on watering in the heat of summer.
3. Consider Raised Planters for Veggies
If you currently maintain a large vegetable garden, you know what back-breaking work it can be. Think about downsizing to a smaller number of plants and putting them in one of the raised planters available on-line like the one in this photo. ( Available from Wayfair.com) Or if you have a handy relative, ask for their help to build your own. One of our family members built one of these for his mom and she just loves it. She can tend to her plants easily and without back and knee strain.
4. Containers, Containers, Containers
The variety of containers available today is amazing. With all of the lightweight plastic polymers available it's easier than ever to find something that fits the space you have and is just as attractive as heavy ceramic. They are perfect for a small patio or deck and can easily be moved if need. Containers are great for planting colorful annuals and herbs in the summer and I am seeing more and more veggies at garden centers that are being specifically grown for container gardening. Talk to your local garden center about the right plants for you.
5. Bring Your Love of Plants Indoors
If you live in an apartment, you can certainly enjoy gardening. There are lots of indoor houseplants that do double duty by looking pretty and cleaning the air. If you have a sun exposure consider succulents. And if you want to grow herbs and veggies indoor, consider grow light or an Aerogarden like the one in this photo.
I raved about mine in a previous article (Click here to read all about it) because I love it for growing herbs indoor in the winter. There are also kits for growing lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and flowers.
As the folks at my talk discovered, there are lots of ways to keep gardening even if you are limited by time, space, or creaky joints.