Happy Labor Day September 4th, dear friends! I found this photo recently and thought it would be perfect for today’s blog post.
If you are an aging but passionate gardener, or you have an aging parent who might enjoy gardening, do think beyond laboring with a garden at ground level. Today, a plethora of methods help you to create gardening space that’s manageable for anyone.
Three ways to think beyond “that’s the way it’s always been done”
1. Elevate the garden.
One option is to build custom garden beds to fit the needs of the gardener, as the blog photo illustrates. This height can benefit someone who needs to sit more often using a stool or a chair as well as someone in a wheelchair.
Another option is to purchase raised garden beds. Several companies now offer compact wooden rectangular beds on legs or wheels. These can be managed by someone standing. They bring the soil to waist level, reducing the need for the bending and stooping that can be a challenge to back and joints.
Some manufactured beds are shaped like an upside-down vee, with shallow soil near the edges and deeper soil in the middle. This shape takes advantage of the varied soil depths to support plants like lettuce on the outside, with staked tomatoes or beans in the middle. It’s also perfect for flowers, with spillers on the edges, thrillers in the deep soil, and fillers midway between.
2. Move the garden closer.
Many types of containers can be used on a porch or deck. For color and excitement plus simplicity of use, try enormous ceramic or plastic containers. These, too, lift the soil for ease of management. And, they are more moveable than you might think. A small folding hand truck can help even someone with minimal strength to shift these from one part of a small yard to another, using seasonal shifts in sun and shade to best advantage.
And re-purpose the concept of the window box. Window boxes can sometimes be hard to reach from outside the house, so why not move the box entirely? Today it’s easy to find containers that look like window boxes but that can hang from porch or deck railings.
These types of boxes have every imaginable feature. Some containers hang over both sides of a railing and don’t require additional fastening, making them easy to empty for winter.
3. Add “labor-saving” devices to manage garden tasks.
I’ve written before about self-watering containers (see links at the end of this post). If you haven’t explored these options, you might be surprised to find that even boxes for porch railings now come with self-watering reservoirs. Other watering systems include drip systems for pots on your porch that can be fitted with a timer tied to a nearby faucet, curly hoses that expand and contract to simplify keeping them tidy, and wands with on/off controls handled by a flick of the thumb – no need to continually grip the sprayer while watering plants.
It’s not just watering, either. You’ll find multiple trellises that work for any imaginable container style or shape, plus covers to retain heat and protect plants from frost in spring and insect-proof fabrics to keep out the caterpillars and grasshoppers in mid-summer.
I mentioned nature-deficit disorder last week in writing about how to involve children in your landscape, but nature-deficit disorder can happen to adults, too. Keep this week’s ideas in mind when planning birthday gifts for parents – or dropping hints for yourself. Getting involved with the world outside the house can be soothing and lift the spirits. It doesn’t have to be laborious!
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