We all know that gardening is great! Being outdoors on a sunny day—enjoying the feel and the smells of the natural world around us—brings physical, mental and spiritual benefits for gardeners of all ages. But just like any other activity, it make good sense to adjust our actions to stay safe and healthy. So how do senior gardeners make the most of their outdoor time? Here are a few tips.
As we age, we can no longer do as much as when we were in our twenties. And that's fine. So pace yourself; work for a while and relax for a while. Being tired can lead to accidents, regardless of your age. Keep safe by taking several rest periods, drink cool liquids and rest in the shade.
Dress the Part
To avoid overheating and sunburn, wear lightweight clothing, sunglasses, sunscreen, a big hat and gardening gloves. Gardening early in the morning or late in the day also protects you from the hottest times of the day. And keep your cell phone on you or nearby. You may never need it but it's a good precaution.
Use the Right Tools
How many times have you lost your hand trowel? Painting your tools in bright colors will make them easier to locate. Strong, lightweight tools with long rubber handles reduce effort and stress on joints. And when planting, use seed tapes - the tiny seeds are embedded in a thin degradable tape. To plant, just unroll and lay out the tape, cover with soil and you're done.
Bring Your Gardening Higher
Raised beds that allow access without kneeling or stooping protect aching knees and backs. Raised planters should be two to three feet tall, with wide top boards to make sitting and working easier. Long narrow beds are best, so every inch can be reached. Adding a trellis or two keeps plants growing upward, within easy range for picking fruits and flowers.
Do you have a neighbor who's interested in gardening? Swap your gardening knowledge for help with heavy digging or lifting. And what about that family member who struggles to find you the perfect gift? Ask for a homemade gift certificate - for pruning the roses or loosening the garden soil in the spring.
Choose the Right Plants
Choose plants that aren't too difficult. You might also want to consider the uses and benefits of certain plants. For example, there are herbs that can help fight the terrible disease like ginkgo or ginseng.
Use Sun Protection
Gardeners can expect to spend a lot of time outside in direct sunlight. To avoid sunburns on delicate skin, wear a wide-brimmed hat and use sunscreen. Bring a water bottle with you to stay hydrated, and avoid gardening between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. during the summer to avoid the hottest part of the day.
If your senior wants more information about gardening, check out our blog post: Basil and Seniors: Meant for Each Other.