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The Benefits of Gardening and Tips to Help Seniors Get Started

The Benefits of Gardening and Tips to Help Seniors Get Started

Health & Aging  |  Miscellaneous

In our hectic, hyperconnected culture, stress is increasingly common. And chronic stress is linked to a variety of health conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and depression. Equally concerning is the amount of time people are spending on their computers and other electronic devices. It can result in an overly sedentary lifestyle, which can put seniors at risk for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, and some forms of cancer.

One activity that can help improve physical and mental health is gardening. It has proven wellness benefits, ranging from increasing flexibility and core strength to reducing stress and anxiety. Whether you are a senior residing in a condominium with little to no room for a garden plot or an older adult exploring safe ways to continue your lifelong passion, container gardening is a great hobby to consider.

Senior-Friendly Gardening Tips

Raised flower and vegetable beds, window boxes, hanging baskets, and pots of all sizes and shapes can all make gardening easier for seniors. To keep your gardens growing and thriving all season long, it’s a good idea to do some research and planning before digging in the dirt.

Bookmark or cut out garden pictures you like

Start by flipping through garden magazines or visiting their websites. Online garden centers and greenhouses can also be a good resource for ideas. Save pictures of flowers and plants you like. It will help you better define your personal garden style. Don’t forget to take into consideration the colors and style of your house and door when you are deciding what to plant.

Identify spots to place your containers or raised beds

For some, limited space will make it easy to decide where to locate containers. If space isn’t an issue for you, choosing spots that have the right amount of sun and shade for the flowers or vegetables you’d like to plant will be important. Don’t limit yourself to patios and porches. You can place pots of flowers or vegetables on outdoor tables or hang them from shepherd’s hooks, plant an herb garden in window boxes, or grow a cutting garden in a raised bed.

Explore potential container options

Garden pots and tools

With good drainage and soil, almost anything that can hold dirt can be turned into a container garden. Get as creative as you’d like. Just keep in mind the material the container is made of and how well plants will do in it. For example, a metal container placed in full sun may cause the roots to overheat quickly. Or a planter box composed of treated wood may leach chemicals into the soil. If you plan to grow herbs or vegetables, that could present a problem.

Invest in a quality container potting soil

One of the most important factors in creating a thriving container garden is to utilize a potting soil mix. You’ll want one that is specifically designed for containers. Your local independent garden center may have a region-specific mix available for purchase. If not, a brand-name potting soil, like Happy Frog, Miracle-Gro, or Espoma, will likely work well.

Ensure good drainage to keep plants healthy

Plant roots above a new planterAnother essential for growing a healthy container garden is good drainage. It prevents a plant’s roots from getting waterlogged and rotting. If your pot doesn’t have predrilled holes, add them with a drill or sharp tool. If the container you choose doesn’t allow for that, cover the bottom with a layer of stone or gravel.

Take water into consideration

Finally, as you are plotting your container garden, remember that pots, window boxes, and raised beds typically require more frequent watering than in-ground flowers and vegetables. As the mercury climbs, the containers will dry out more quickly. If you have a difficult time carrying a watering can or dragging a hose around the yard, place your containers near a water source or install drip irrigation.

Keep Gardening in a Senior Living Community

If you are a gardener considering making a move to a senior living community, you might be happy to learn that many offer plot space to residents so they can continue their hobby. In fact, in PSL communities, it’s a very popular pastime. We encourage you to inquire about gardening opportunities when you schedule a tour of a PSL community near you!

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About Presbyterian Senior Living

PSL is a mission-driven organization that lives our values of integrity, mutual respect, creative curiosity, and connectedness. Building on a legacy of 96 years, we provide residential and care services to more than 6,000 seniors in 27 locations across the mid-Atlantic region of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio and Delaware.