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Gardening with Laurie: Don't let age slow you down

By By Laurie Garretson
Nov. 29, 2012 at 5:29 a.m.
Updated Nov. 30, 2012 at 5:30 a.m.

Laurie Garretson

"We come from the earth, we return to the earth, and in between we garden."

  • Unknown Author

As I write this article on yet another of one of my birthdays, I really don't dwell so much on being a year older, but instead on how fast these birthdays come around. Surely, I'm not the only one this happens to. You must have noticed the fact that as you get older, your birthdays seem to happen more frequently than they did when you were younger. Maybe it has something to do with the climate change?

So, as I contemplate being another year older, I think about how aging can certainly change many things for gardeners. I know that many older gardeners literally feel that their gardening days are over when they hit a certain age. Having less physical ability should not prevent anyone from enjoying gardening.

I believe that we can benefit from gardening during all phases of life, especially the older years. Gardening provides mental, spiritual and physical enrichment for all ages, especially seniors. With some modifications made in the landscape and to gardening techniques and tools, gardening can still be an option for older adults.

In terms of the landscape, start thinking less maintenance. This could mean less lawn grass and more ground covers. Grass has to be mowed and watered. These are two chores that can be difficult for older gardeners. Where it's possible, do away with steps and in their place make wide, curving, sloping paths. Installing outdoor lighting on paths and stairs can help to improve visibility.

Many gardening chores require bending and stooping. This can become a real deterrent to older gardeners. Vertical gardening can be one solution to this problem. Grow plants on a wall or trellis. Table top gardens or raised beds are other good options that allow gardeners to sit while gardening.

Sturdy benches and chairs should be available in shady locations throughout the landscape. Long-handled or curved-handled tools can provide better leverage for gardeners with limited muscle strength.

Lighter weight tools are available and will be easier for seniors to handle. Putting plastic tubing or tape on garden tool handles will help provide gardeners with a better grip. Painting all garden tools with a bright-colored paint can help seniors locate them better.

Taking the time to make a few important changes can make the difference in how many more years an older gardener can enjoy their gardens. If you have an older gardener on your Christmas list, maybe one of these options could make a great gift.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to laurie@vicad.com or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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