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Top tips and gardening tools for the elderly

Many people enjoy gardening, but it can become more challenging in later life. View our tips and ideas.

April 13, 2022

Elderly person gardening

Gardening is one of the most popular pastimes for people of any age, but those in later life often particularly enjoy tending to an outdoor space and spending time in nature. Research shows that gardening for older adults can result in multiple benefits to both body and mind. But some kinds of gardening can be quite physical, and many older people can start to find certain tasks a bit more difficult over time.

We take a look at some tips and tools that can help make gardening a little easier and safer for those in later life, enabling older people to really enjoy this rewarding pastime for longer.

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The benefits of gardening for the elderly

Gardening regularly can be a great activity for older adults because it has lots of benefits for both mental and physical health:

  • It helps keep people active and is therefore great for general health and wellbeing
  • Many gardening activities assist with strengthening joints and muscles and can also help with core strength, flexibility, and balance - which is more important than ever as we age
  • Reports show that gardening also provides a level of physical activity that can help prevent osteoporosis, as well as risk of some cancers, Type 2 diabetes, depression and even heart disease
  • Both indoor and outdoor gardening has been found to be a great stress reliever, and can also help reduce blood pressure and improve mood in general.

But many older people do tend to find that some of the more physical aspects of gardening can get a bit more difficult over time, along with an increased risk of having a fall or another kind of incident.

 

The good news is that there are lots of ways to make things easier, and gardening tools that can be used which many people find useful in their later years.

 

Tips for older gardeners

Gardening can give a great deal of pleasure to people throughout their life, but as we age, it can make sense to simplify the garden itself - to help keep things easier and safer to maintain.

Plants in garden

Tips include:

  • Planting more perennials that require less maintenance than many other types of plant
  • Incorporating raised gardens for seniors, either with raised beds or pots, to limit the amount of bending and lifting needed
  • Ensuring that paths are wide enough and well maintained for easy access to planting areas (i.e. ensuring there’s no uneven surfaces that could cause trips or falls)
  • Incorporating ‘wild’ areas into the garden, which don’t require much maintenance and are great for attracting wildlife
  • Leaving grass (or sections of grass) to grow long to attract butterflies, which also means less mowing and edging
  • Using organic mulch to help supress most weeds without the need to spend lots of time and energy on weeding

 

Ideal gardening tools for the elderly

Gardening can be quite hard work physically, but there are lots of great tools and equipment available which can make things much easier for people who are advancing in years – especially if they’re not as able to bend, lift and extend quite as much as they used to.

Garden trolley

The perfect accompaniment for older gardeners; garden trollies carry heavier items and tools wherever needed, so there’s less need to keep to-ing and fro-ing when moving items (or carry anything heavy).

It’s a much more stable and easier to manage option than a wheelbarrow.

Gardening trolley

 

Long-handled weeders

Gone are the days that you need to get down onto the lawn with a hand trowel to dig out pesky dandelions.

Weed pullers with a long handle mean that gardeners don’t even need to bend to get the weed and root out of the ground, minimising the effort needed. Many also have a simple handle mechanism that releases the weed once it’s out of the ground, so it can easily be disposed of.

 

Electric secateurs

Many older gardneners find that they no longer have the grip strength that they once did, which can make regular tasks, such as pruning, a lot more tricky.

With electric secateurs, the tools itself does all of the work, making it much easier to get the job done in no time at all.

 

A gardening seat or stool

For many people in their later years, kneeling on the ground for long periods of time, even with protection, can be painful and difficult to get up from.

A gardening seat or stool solves this problem because it gets the gardener close to the ground, making it much easier to get onto and up from.

 Plus, they often come with storage and/or wheels so they are even easier to move around the garden as needed. Most also fold away when not being used.

Gardening seat

 

Ergonomic hand tools

There is always a certain amount of gardening work that requires hand tools, and most people really enjoy getting down closer to the earth anyway.

However, people in their later years often experience arthritis or find that gripping a hand tool conventionally is no longer comfortable. Thankfully, you can now get hand tools with special grips that are ideally suited to older gardeners.

 

Tips for staying safe in the garden

As much as we all like to think that we’re safe in our own home and garden, there are many thousands of accidents and injuries that happen every year in UK gardens.

For those who are older, there is an increased risk of falling and if an incident does happen, often the consequences can be much more serious for those who are perhaps frailer than they once were.

We’ve compiled some safety tips for older gardeners:

Keep pathways clear of obstructions

It can be easy to leave bags of leaves, grass cuttings or tools lying around when gardening, but any of these things can be a trip hazard if left on a path or passageway. 

Ensuring that paths are kept clear is one way to help minimise this type of incident.

 

Store away hoses and other trailing hazards when not in use

Whether it’s a trailing hosepipe or a cable for an electric tool or lawnmower, these types of hazards can be difficult to see and that makes them a higher risk for causing trips and falls. 

Ensuring that they are put away when not in immediate use is a worthy routine to get into.

Hosepope trip hazard

 

Take regular breaks when gardening

Whilst gardening can be very relaxing, it can also take a toll physically and older gardeners might not always realise that they are over-exerting themselves if they are just doing tasks in the same way they always have done. 

Taking regular breaks with a cold drink and rotating tasks regularly can help prevent repetitive strain injuries and ensure that the gardener stays hydrated.

Find more tips for staying safe in warmer weather.

 

Consider a personal alarm for when gardening alone

For many older people, the thought of having a fall or another emergency when gardening alone could be a real worry.

A personal alarm that works in the home, garden or elsewhere might be a great solution that gives them and their family peace of mind that help is at hand if needed.

The alarm is worn by the gardener and the button can be pressed if required, which alerts the emergency response team who then call the individual to check whether everything is okay.

For example, Taking Care Anywhere is a GPS personal alarm that works in the home, garden or anywhere else in the UK, so is ideal for older people who have an allotment or help with community gardening outside of their own home.

It will ensure that help is always on hand, should it be needed.

With these tips for how to garden more easily and safely, we hope that many gardeners in their later years can enjoy lots more happy times outside in their gardens and outdoor spaces.

Independent living products brochure

Learn how personal alarms and home monitoring solutions can keep you or your loved ones safe and independent at home.

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Ways to support independent living

Independent living products brochure

Learn how personal alarms and home monitoring solutions can keep you or your loved ones safe and independent at home.

Download brochure


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