Do you remember when you were in your 20’s, and even 30’s, thinking ‘old age’ was something for other people to worry about?
I clearly recall that when I was 25, I paid absolutely no attention to `old age`. I definitely thought that I would always be as fit and energetic as I was then.
A few years on and, hmmm might want to rethink that Claire!
On my travels I am lucky to meet a lot of people who love their gardens. Sadly, I also meet many that simply can`t manage their gardens anymore. I am there, with the team, to maintain their garden, but their sense of frustration at not being able to do it themselves is palpable.
A few years ago,one of my gardening customers who had recently celebrated his 85th birthday said to me, “The trouble is Claire I`m in the old club and I don’t recommend it!”
Whilst he was still in good health, his garden had got too much for him and he missed being able to potter about doing the jobs he’d always done and tending to his garden.
I’m a true gardener through and through, and I totally get how this must feel. There can be nothing more frustrating than watching something overgrow in a garden you have loved and nurtured for many years, but not being to do anything about it.
Over the years I`ve seen many a garden `beach`.
Once a keen gardener, the homeowner has had a knee jerk reaction to not being able to mow the lawn anymore and has had it ripped up with shingle put down in its place.
Now, there is nothing wrong with shingle per se, BUT, it’s really important to give some thought to the borders and surrounding shrubs. Will they suit it the new look or will it look disjointed?
Here's the thing. Just like our ‘ideal’ home will change as we travel through life’s great journey, so will what we need from our garden. And that’s just as it should be.
Whether you take care of it yourself or choose to have some help that doesn’t cost the earth, I firmly believe that with some careful planning, everyone can have a beautiful green, outside space to enjoy for as long as possible.
You only have to do a quick Google search (other search engines are available) to find a plethora of articles about why gardening is good for you.
It‘s a great way to stay active which makes it invaluable for your physical wellbeing and being able to live independently for as long as possible. But it’s also good for your mental health.
The fresh air, nature, wildlife and the positive effects of a job well done – no matter how small that job might seem – are a fabulous diversion from the online, digital world we all inhabit.
Here are four ways you can make sure your garden is still user friendly as you age.
You don’t need your own beach to have a low maintenance garden. In fact, shingle can be a real nuisance if you later need to use a walking frame or wheelchair to get around the garden.
Instead, you could increase your lawn space by reducing the size of your borders. Borders generally need more looking after, weeding, planting and watering. They can be tricky to access, especially if you are less mobile than you used to be, and getting someone to cut the grass for you is easier than finding a reliable person to take care of the borders when you really can’t do it yourself anymore.
Stocking your borders with larger shrubs instead of bedding plants will make the space easier to look after. You can plant a variety of sizes and colours so that you still enjoy a colourful display throughout the year, but with the need for much less maintenance.
And of course, we mustn’t forget bulbs – great value to buy, and they last for years. Just plant them and let Mother Nature take care of the rest of the work for you.
Getting older often, inevitably, means you become less mobile and start to suffer aches and pains. Raised flower beds will save you having to bend when you are looking after them and, with some clever design you can sit on them whilst you are gardening. These types of beds can double up as extra seating if you have visitors too!
Your safety is important and trying to tackle large hedges is likely to require ladders or steps to reach the tops. Reducing the height of hedges means you don’t need to risk falling from a wobbly ladder whilst trying to trim the hedges.
If your garden is uneven, or on a number of levels, why not explore levelling the area so that you can say goodbye to awkward steps and potential trip hazards?
A manageable garden doesn’t have to be boring, after all, the idea is to give you a place you can safely potter and enjoy your hobby for as long as possible!
A greenhouse is the perfect place to pass the time, nurturing seeds into plants, growing your own fruit and veg or even nursing plants back to health for friends or family who don’t share your green fingers.
Installing an irrigation system is a sensible step. No more dragging the hose around the garden, trying to get it to stretch a little more to reach awkward corners and certainly no more struggling to reel it all back up again when you’re finished. Irrigation systems are easy to install in your garden and your greenhouse and if you connect them to a timer, you don’t even need to worry about watering if you go away on holiday.
A bird table is a wonderful addition to any garden. It’s really lovely to watch the birds feed and observe their funny little habits. You might even find some that are brave enough to make friends with you in the peace and tranquillity of your garden.
After creating a beautiful space, what could be nicer than sitting down to enjoy it. Create a comfortable space that you want to sit in with seating that you can access and use. There’s no point having the furniture stored away so that you can’t use it whenever you want. Rattan furniture is durable and can stay out all year round. Add some cushions and you’re good to go.
Log burners, firepits and chimeneas are fabulous features for your seating area. If your days of chopping and carrying wood are behind you, opt for a gas-fuelled model instead. On the subject of gas, if you enjoy eating al fresco, a gas BBQ is the perfect solution and no need for messy charcoal!
And of course, we mustn’t forget lighting. These days you can get some gorgeous solar lights that are easy to install and will give a pretty twinkle to your garden.
I am a firm believer that thinking “What CAN I do?” as opposed to “I can`t manage anymore” will help you have many more years enjoying and tending to your garden.
If you’d like some advice about designing the perfect garden for you, or a loved one who might be find it hard to manage on their own, I would love to hear from you. I love nothing more than helping people love their gardens!