A Resource for Family Caregivers of Seniors
Accessible Gardens Seniors Can Enjoy Safely & Comfortably

Accessible Gardens Seniors Can Enjoy Safely & Comfortably

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Spring is coming (yes, we hear some of you saying “finally”)! We see daffodils popping to meet the sunshine and crocuses sticking their little heads up to say hello!

Many seniors have shared their joy of gardening with their children and grandchildren over the years. Having learned from our elders, we carry on the love they’ve given us by planting and growing our own flowers, fruits and vegetables.

It is now our turn as caregivers to share new, accessible gardens and the fulfillment of getting our hands dirty again with our senior loved ones as they age. Many seniors find that the effects of aging on joints, muscles and the freedom of movement have prohibited them from tending to their beloved gardens.

We can change that.

Making Senior Friendly Gardens Grow

  • Growing vertically – plants that we grow vertically are more easily accessible for those with mobility limitations. There are different kinds of commercially available products that can grow in hanging containers, upside down, trellises or using garden towers.
  • Growing in raised beds – an advantage is that they are easy to reach, even from a wheelchair or seated position, if balance or endurance is a problem. Garden boxes can be elevated on legs or built up beds lined with materials such as railroad timbers that allow space for a seat for gardeners to work and rest. Two to three feet in height is typically ideal for easiest accessibility.
  • Planting container gardens – if space or mobility is limited, use a container to grow specific items such as flowers, herbs or vegetables from patios or porches for accessibility.
  • Plant in found items, such as a pallet – an old wooden pallet is transformed with herbs and flowers interspersed between slats and stands on its side for easy reach. This video shows how.

  • Maintenance friendly commercially available planting soil – using this specially prepared soil will reduce the need for weeding, tilling hard soil and other labor intensive preparation. They also have the ability to hold and disperse water to the plant roots more effectively.
  • Self-watering containers – some garden containers that are commercially available have a capacity to self-water so if seniors are unable to water daily the plants will still continue to grow well. You can also fashion your own self-watering containers using reservoirs and garden hoses. You can find directions to make your own on YouTube too.
  • If going outside is not an option, try using inside plant stands with fluorescent lighting. It will provide the same benefits of physical and mental activity in a more convenient form. You can purchase specially made indoor gardens that will provide light and growing trays.
  • Don’t forget adequate shade areas, garden hats with wide brims, garden gloves to protect sensitive skin, seating, convenient portable stools, knee pads, ergonomic garden tools and easy to maneuver paths so that everyone can enjoy.

Benefits of Gardening for Seniors

  • Accessible and non-strenuous way to give seniors a way to share their gardening expertise, get some physical activity, spend some time outdoors and have an improved quality of life. It is a wonderful way to give seniors a way to engage with others in a meaningful way.
  • Growing a garden, whether big or small, will attract birds and butterflies to their home. They can spend time being an observer or even a participant with nature.
  • Having a new garden or being able to use their existing garden more efficiently and safely will add to their aging in place experience.
  • Stimulate seniors’ brains by having them plan what plants they would like to grow, when to plant, when to weed, and when to harvest can keep their minds active as well as their bodies.
  • Growing some of their own fruits, vegetables and herbs will improve their nutritional intake and encourage healthy eating.
  • Home gardens will allow them to mentor future generations. Multi-generational experiences improve the quality of life, not just for seniors but from all family members.
  • Sharing the harvest with family, friends and neighbors will keep seniors connected with their ‘community’.

Aging shouldn’t be the reason to stop enjoying a lifelong activity – at least not without a fight. Giving your senior a way to continue to engage in gardening, either on a small or somewhat larger scale, can provide many benefits. Try some of these ideas and enjoy the harvest!

We would love to hear how you made it possible for your senior to get their hands dirty!

2 Responses to Accessible Gardens Seniors Can Enjoy Safely & Comfortably

  1. This is a grea idea. A lot of senior people love gardening. It will also be one way for them to stay active and healthy.

    • Kathy Birkett says:

      Thanks Tammy, glad you enjoyed it! We think these tips are great to get not only our senior loved ones active but the whole family together! Thanks for commenting, come back soon!

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