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Seniors,Time to Think Gardening

Spring is in full-force here in Minnesota! If you haven’t already, now would be a great time to start planning and preparing your garden! Before getting out in the backyard or getting your pots ready for your container garden, here are some ideas to get you started!

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Do you need a little inspiration this year before you get out and start your gardening?  The University of Minnesota has begun reopening the Arboretum in Chaska.  The initial opening is for drive-through tours with tickets obtained online.  The goal of this approach is to distance the vehicles to give everyone a good experience on the tour.   Three-Mile Drive is a fully paved roadway that winds through the various collections and landscapes at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.  

seniors spring gardening

Container Gardening

Many of the things we all enjoy about spring are the greenery and new plants emerging all around us. Most people love this time of year so they can go outside and start digging in the earth, working on their annual garden. The opportunity sometimes slips away from seniors when it becomes too much work to get down on their knees, or the work becomes too difficult-- with tillers, hoes, and rakes! Never fear--seniors can still enjoy these rights of spring and use containers to do the gardening.

What is it?

Beautiful senior woman gardening outdoors looking very happyContainer gardening is ideal for people that have difficulty bending, stooping, or kneeling, individuals that have mobility issues, and those with little or no garden space. In addition to growing flowers, gardeners limited to a balcony, small yard, or only a patch of sun on their driveway can produce a wide variety of vegetable crops in containers. Basil, chives, thyme, and other herbs also are quite happy growing in pots, which can be set in a convenient spot right outside the kitchen door. Special consideration should be given to the size of the pots needed and how they will be taken care of, as the plant grows and how heavy they will get when properly watered, or potentially waterlogged after a rainstorm. This can become problematic if you have to raise them up to prune, or do some other plant maintenance. One thought could be hanging plants at a desirable height.

Why Container Gardening?

Seniors that keep their minds and bodies active help them stay independent as long as possible. Studies show that doing things as gardening requires us to think more, like reading new information about plants or fertilizer and help keep our minds active which could prevent diseases such as dementia. Container gardening is also a great opportunity to do things together.--couples can keep doing things as a team. Children and grandchildren can join in to help while everyone can enjoy the beauty and fruits from the garden.

Things to Consider

Keep in mind that it's easier to grow plants in large containers than small ones. That's because large containers hold more soil, which stays moist longer and resists rapid temperature fluctuations. Small hanging baskets are especially prone to drying out, and during hot summer weather, you may have to water them twice a day to keep plants alive. So selecting the right plant is very important if there is a limitation on moving them easily around.

It's also important to decide what plant you want to grow in each container. Several factors help determine how large and deep the container must be. Consider the size and shape of a plant's root system; whether it is a perennial, annual, or shrub; and how rapidly it grows. Root-bound plants, which have filled up every square inch of the soil available, dry out rapidly and won't grow well. Here are some other considerations for your container garden.

While it could be good to get the exercise of bending and lifting, sometimes that can get pretty difficult with fully grown plants. Consider plant stands as they come in great variety and different costs for everyone's budget. You can have the plants placed at different heights for dramatic purposes, or just to save your back! To work on your plants you may want to have a bench and some tools to make the work easier. Working at a comfortable height is also a good reason to consider a potting bench with good tools for the task. Tools might include rubber gloves, a small shovel, and mini-hoe to make weeding easier. When looking at benches and stands keep in mind the environmental considerations including pests that may want to use it for their own devices.

Comfort Keepers promotes active seniors and independence. Staying active can improve health in so many ways!