B14 - Modifying the Garden
People often find that their gardens become too much for them to cope with as they get older.
This can be distressing if you enjoy gardening. However, some gardens can be modified to suit your changing abilities.
There are also specially adapted tools and equipment that help make gardening easier.
Suggestions for modifying your garden:
- Raise beds so that you can avoid bending and stooping.
- Use walls and trellises for planting.
- Use wheelbarrows, pots and containers on wheels to make movable and elevated planting spaces.
- Replace gardens with lawn to reduce work.
- Plant 'easy care' plants.
- Use stable chairs to rest on and a table for planting up small containers.
- For easy watering, install taps at key points or consider installing an irrigation system.
- Ensure that paths are wide enough (no less than 80cm wide), well maintained and free of any hazards that might trip you.
- Make sure that path surfaces are smooth and flat - replace uneven bricks or paving slabs and repair cracked concrete.
- Make the garden all one level, or if there are changes in level, make sure that paths have a gentle gradient and steps have handrails and are clearly defined with white strips.
- Think about light sources. You may need to install lighting along paths or remove dense shrubs to improve light to the area.
- Store tools in easily accessible places, close to where you garden.
- There are a number of tools on the market adapted to help people with conditions, such as arthritis, that make handling tools difficult.
- You can use foam, tape and plastic tubing to modify existing tools for a better grip.
- Long handles can reduce bending and reaching.
- Lightweight tools and plastic buckets are easier to handle.
- A wheeled tool caddy is easier to move around, and some caddies have seats.
- Brightly coloured tools can help people who are visually impaired.
- Research has found that maintaining a garden has important health benefits, including improving coordination and flexibility, increasing exercise,
reducing stress, increasing exposure to vitamin D and improving the immune system.
- Gardening provides a sense of accomplishment and is an important activity in many cultures.
- Fresh home-grown vegetables not only taste great but can help reduce food costs.
- Modifications can stop your garden from deteriorating and becoming a burden.
- Making modifications could actually save money because the changes will enable you to be more involved in your garden instead of paying others to do work for you.
- It can be challenging finding the right design and person to help you make modifications to your garden.
- Making modifications to your garden design can be costly (although some changes may be relatively inexpensive or could be done by friends and relations).
- Older gardeners need to be mindful that their skin is thinner and more fragile and can be damaged easily. Also, gardeners need to be aware of the risk of falls.
Using a personal/medical alarm while outside will help in case of an accident (see B34 Getting a Personal or Medical Alarm).
What do I need in order to take this option?
You need to have the money, resources and designs to make the changes you want.
Could this option limit my future choices?
- No, improving the safety and accessibility of your garden could help you to stay living in your home longer.
- A well-kept garden will also help to maintain the value of your home, something to bear in mind if you think you might want to sell in future.
- A well-tended vegetable and fruit garden can reduce food costs for your household.
For more information
- Your local garden centre or hardware store for advice on garden tools.
- Your local disability resource centre or Life Unlimited store (see:
www.lifeunlimited.net.nz) may be able to advise on useful garden tools and garden adaptation.