We talked on previous blogs about staying healthier later in life, and one thing that is fantastic for mental and physical health is gardening. The joy of tending to something and watching it grow can be incredibly satisfying.
Once you are retired, it can feel like you don’t really have a purpose and starting or improving your garden can help with some of the boredom you may be feeling. You can start gardening at any age from 2 to 102; a garden is a special place. The Horticultural Trade Association in the UK has estimated that nearly 3 million people took up gardening last year during the Coronavirus pandemic, and over half of those are over 45.
Gardening doesn’t have to be looking after a huge garden with large expanses of lawn and vegetable plots to dig and look after. It could be as little as having a window box or some hanging baskets. We have put some tips together about gardening later in life.
1. Have raised growing beds
If you struggle to dig and kneel to look after your plants, you can always think about getting some raised beds. It’s much easier to manage a flower bed at waist height. Also, other benefits are better soil quality, improved drainage and also less space is required.
2. Reduce your lawn
One part of gardening that no one (apart from if you have a ride on mower) really enjoys is cutting the grass. You could consider reducing the size of your lawn, replacing some of it with decorative stones or nice paving. Another option is to plant ground covering plants such as creeping thyme, moss or ornamental grasses. The other low maintenance alternative is to get artificial grass; some of the modern ones are incredibly realistic.
3. Invest in gardening tools to help
There is an extensive range of gardening tools adapted for ease of use. You can find out further details from Thrive, a national charity that uses gardening to change lives. They can recommend tools with extra grips and long reach handles to make gardening more accessible to all.
4. Learn and use proper form when gardening
Using proper bending and lifting techniques are important as to not cause stress and strain to your body. Bend at the knees and using a kneeling pad when bending down to weed. Don’t lift anything that is beyond your limits. Try to split heavier weights down, and if you have a large watering can only fill it to the limit you can comfortably lift it.
5. Don’t go beyond your limits
If you have any concerns over your health, consult a doctor before taking up a new activity. Whist gardening, especially in the summer, ensure you keep well hydrated and use sun protection if needed. If you’re planning a day of physical gardening, do some warm-up exercises and stretches. There could be things you feel that you can’t cope with; maybe consider employing someone to take on the heavy work so you can enjoy the rest.
6. Concider planting things you enjoy and are simle to take care of
Selecting plants can be really challenging as it’s hard to know what is suitable for your garden. Ask advice from the staff at the garden centre, and they can point you in the right direction. Select plants and flowers you enjoy looking at and are easy to take care of. Produce can be very rewarding, tomatoes, strawberries and fresh herbs are relatively easy, and you don’t need a huge space for them. If you are struggling to know how to look after your plants, take a note of them and keep a book of how to care for them; if in doubt, use Google to research care instructions.
7. Enjoy gardening
Take time to enjoy the fruits of your labour, maybe install a nice seating area where you can relax. There is no point in spending hours making a lovely garden and then not enjoying it. Take a book outside and enjoy nature. Gardening can be a team effort, and it’s something you can do with friends and family, especially children.
If your garden is a little small or you want some inspiration, there are more than 200 National Trust gardens to enjoy.
From a small window box to an allotment or something in-between, everyone can get enjoyment out of gardening later in life, it’s not rocket science, just a bit of care and research. Gardening has excellent health benefits both physically and mentally. On a physical level, bending, lifting, planting and walking helps a lot more than you may realise. Mental health can benefit from being outdoors, and having something to look after, care for, and enjoy can be a great distraction from other worries.
Keeping busy and active as you get older is the key to having a better quality, healthier and longer life.
This blog has been written for you by the team at Sovereign Planning, the go-to Professional Will Writing service in the UK. We can help with Will Writing, LPA, Trusts or Funeral Plans; just give us a call to speak to our friendly team.