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Each month, receive tips on the top jobs needed in your garden as well as a wealth of information on a range of gardening topics. From sowing seeds to picking fruit, each month get access to information on the care and maintenance of your flowerbeds, vegetable plot and lawn. As with your own gardening diary, the journal is split into separate sections, each covering a different area of garden care.

Friday 4 January 2019

Gardening for the over 60s

Retirement brings with it one obvious advantage for the keen gardener… time. Depending on your
lifestyle, you can devote as many hours as you wish to your favourite pastime and finally achieve the garden of your dreams.

The health benefits of gardening are far reaching – especially for those of an older generation. It is a gentle but thorough workout. Even in a modest sized garden, you can soon clock up the miles, walking to and from the shed, emptying the wheel-barrow and chasing the cat out of the Begonias.

Then think about the squatting, bending, lifting and reaching – the raking, hoeing, mowing and digging. Yes, there is no doubt, gardening not only burns the calories, but it keeps us supple, agile and strong. In fact, The British Journal of Sports Medicine found that 60 year-olds who took part in daily physical activity (such as gardening) had a 27% lower risk of heart attack or stroke.

Then there are the mental benefits too. Keeping the mind busy is just as important as physical exercise and having a project to focus on that rewards us with a beautiful and colourful display is the best type of medicine for the soul.

As we get older, we may find that some gardening tasks we once tackled with ease, become a little harder than they used to be. But age or disability does not mean that we need to garden less. No, not at all. It just means that we need to think a little bit more about our garden design, the types of jobs we tackle and the types of tools we use.

So, if you are retired or approaching retirement age, take a look at some of our top tips to keep your garden manageable for the years ahead.

Lawn Care

Lawn Design

Firstly, take a closer look at your garden design. Has mowing become too much of a chore? If so, perhaps it’s time to re-plan your garden layout and remove some turf. Replacing turf with a decorative stone aggregate or decking can produce a stunning and classical look in your garden and once laid, is pretty much maintenance free.

If you really love the look of grass in your garden, you could consider artificial grass. The technology of artificial grass has accelerated in recent years and no longer resembles that found on the shelves of a greengrocer. These days, a high-quality artificial turf weathers to look very convincing and requires a lot less maintenance than real grass.

Lawn Care - Tools

For those with a larger garden, it is highly likely that you will still require a lawn. The good news is that there has been a number of new products that have entered the market in recent years that can really help to reduce the effort of lawn maintenance.

  • Robot lawnmowers – The first tool to consider is a robot. Although these products have been around for 30 years or so, it has only been in the last five years that they have become accepted by consumers. In fact, it is reported that in Scandinavia, 50% of all lawnmowers sold are now robotic. Once installed, by way of a guide wire that is buried under the perimeter of your lawn, the robot can be left by itself. It ‘nibbles’ the grass on daily basis and then disappears off to a little shed to re-charge once it’s finished the job. For those with limited mobility, robot mowers are an attractive option but they are not suitable for all types of garden. Currently the technology is still quite expensive, and the robot’s ability is limited by the terrain of the garden and its layout. If you have anything other than a basic, fairly flat and square lawn, installation can become tricky. Also, so far at least, there is not a model that can cut the front garden as well as the back!
  • Zero-turn ride-on lawnmowers – Zero-turn lawnmowers (so called because of their ability to turn in a zero-degree turning circle) are a true break-through in recent years. Just like robots, the technology has been around for a number of years, but only in recent years have these ride-on lawnmowers appeared in Europe. These days, in the U.S., more zero-turn lawnmowers are now sold than the traditional ride-on lawn tractor and Europe is catching up fast. The market grows by around 30% every year as more Europeans find out about this technology.

    Zero-turn mowers have several benefits over a walk-behind or lawn-tractor. Firstly, they are controlled with your hands. There are two levers (rather than a steering wheel) to control forward motion and to steer the product. For those with hip pain or lacking strength in their legs, these machines are perfect for cutting larger areas as there are no foot pedals to content with. Also, their design allows you to comfortably step into the machine – perfect for those with limited mobility. Because they are so agile, a zero-turn can mow right up to and around trees, flower beds and garden ornaments.

  • Battery walk-behind lawnmower – Lithium Ion batteries (the type that are in your smart phone or power drill) have revolutionised the garden machinery industry in the last two years. The battery technology is now so good, it has become a feasible alternative to petrol power equipment. A battery powered lawnmower is light, manoeuvrable and requires no petrol (obviously) and being battery powered, the mower is totally wire free. This gives peace of mind for those of us who worry about accidently mowing over the power cable.

Beds and planting and Garden Chores

Raised beds

Getting older can provide the perfect excuse to invest in raised beds. Firstly, let’s be honest, raised beds can look superb. They bring an architectural elegance that lets you add variety, height and symmetry to your garden. They can help protect your prized veg from the nibbles of mice and rabbits and help place flowers at eye-level. For the older gardener, the additional benefits are obvious. Bending, leaning and stretching is greatly reduced and so is the amount of weeding

Containers and pots

If raised beds are not an option for you, consider purchasing large pots and containers. You can achieve a similar result and over time, you can fill you old borders with pretty pots where once the plants were bedded straight into the ground. Remember that not all plants are happy in containers, so be sure to think carefully about your plant choices

Kneel Pads and stools

Wherever possible, avoid the need to kneel. It’s not the most comfortable position for anyone (regardless of age), but as we get older, kneeling becomes more problematic. If you must kneel, be sure to invest in a good quality ‘kneeler’ – a simple but effective tool to protect your knees. Good models can also be used as a stool and will have handles either side to help you lift yourself back up once the job has been finished.

General Garden Chores

There are plenty of tools on the market to help take the back-ache out of clearing up the garden. Once again, battery power equipment really comes into its own here. Not only is a battery trimmer lighter than its petrol equivalent, but it is much quieter and doesn’t blow exhaust fumes into your face. There is no storing or refuelling of petrol, no long cables to worry about tripping over or accidentally strimming. Buying a quality brand of power equipment will also give you access to a battery system – this means that you can share the batteries between different tools, greatly reducing the overall cost of ownership.

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