Gardening is a fantastic hobby but it is definitely a young person’s game. All of that bending and stooping, the crouching and crawling—it wreaks havoc on joints that are already having trouble dealing with every day getting around. Even so, it’s a hobby you love and you’re unwilling to give up. You’ve worked hard on that patch of land, taking it from nothing to the thriving garden it is now. Here are some of the things you can do to make maintaining your garden easier.
When you have arthritis in your hands and joints, working with “regular” gardening tools can be quite difficult. They simply aren’t meant for people who might have trouble gripping and holding on to them for very long. Luckily there are a lot of different gardening tool manufacturers who have lines of “ergonomic” tools that are built specifically for people with arthritis. While not all of these tools are created equal, narrowing your search to the tools with an ergonomic label can help save you quite a lot of frustration as you tend your plants. Talk to the people at your local nursery to see if they have any specific recommendations.
Tend Your Body First
When you were younger, you were able to spring out of bed and get right to work in the garden. Now that you’re older, it takes more time for your body to “wake up.” In an article for the New York Times, Patty Cassidy (an OSU certified master gardener) recommends giving yourself at least a couple of hours to be up and moving around before trying to work in your garden. She also recommends shifting your position every twenty to thirty minutes to prevent yourself from locking up.
She also recommends switching activities at that interval too, to help you pace yourself.
Automate What You Can
Setting up a sprinkler system that is set to a timer can help save you loads of watering work. There are also electric tools for things like aerating soil and dealing with weeds (the all important weed whacker, a must for any gardening shed). You can save yourself effort and retaliate against a neighbor’s loud kids by using a leaf blower on Saturday mornings to get debris out of your yard. Talk to your local nursery or garden shop about things that can be automated to help you save wear and tear on your body and energy levels.
It’s Okay to Cheat Sometimes
It’s frustrating, but there are just going to be some parts of your garden that are harder to get to and tend properly now that you are older. Why not “plant” a few artificial flowers or other types of silk plants in these areas? The silk plants don’t require a lot of maintenance work (brush the dust off them once in a while and voila! Done!) and they help keep the garden looking full and thriving. For example, you can supplement your flower beds with silk flower designs from Aquilegia and grow natural flowers in your raised flower containers (which are easier for you to get to).
If your body is truly rebelling against your keeping up your garden by yourself, you might consider hiring a landscaper or gardener to do the heavy lifting for you. That way you can still maintain over what you grow and how you grow it someone else’s body gets achy and tired.
These are just a few things that you can do to make gardening easier for you. Remember, gardening is a fantastic hobby at any age. You might have to adjust your standards or methods but if you are smart and baby your body, there’s no reason you can’t nurse that green thumb no matter how old you are.