Keeping a passion for gardening alive

Occupational therapist Sharon Howell shares some tips on how to keep a loved one gardening, even if they have decreased mobility.

As the mobility of your love one decreases, they may be finding it increasingly difficult to spend time in their beloved garden.

Spending time in the garden has endless benefits – you get fresh air, exercise and a bit of ‘me’ time. Occupational therapist Sharon Howell adds, “Maintaining an interest in gardening can be important for an older person’s independence, overall functioning and wellbeing.

But what if that precious time outdoors for your loved one becomes difficult? With the help of some tips and equipment, you can help transform your loved one's garden into a user-friendly oasis.

Spending time in the garden has endless benefits – you get fresh air, exercise and a bit of ‘me’ time.

Raised garden beds

Raised garden beds can help transform an avid gardener’s life. There’s no need for your loved one to kneel or sit down in the earth and then worry about how they’re going to get up again. These gardens can be built to a height that suits individual needs.

There are steel or wooden options, or if you’re up to the challenge, you can build one yourself. Fit the raised garden bed into a part of the garden that’s easily accessed and make sure it’s the right height. Then get your loved one planting.

Garden plot

Tools for the job

You can now find gardening tools that are designed for people with restricted mobility at most gardening suppliers. Look online or take your loved one to a store so they can feel what’s best for them.

Many people also modify tools themselves, and find it works really well.

To take a load off their feet, your friend or relative could use a gardening seat or a kneeling pad to protect inflamed knee joints.

Weeds be gone!

Weeding can be a serious problem for anyone with mobility issues, so it’s a good idea to try and stop them growing by mulching garden beds generously or laying down weed matting. For any stubborn ones that pop up, a long-handled weeding wand can be used to remove them without bending.

Lovely lawn

If mowing the lawn has become an arduous task for your loved one, they could consider upgrading to a key-start, self-propelled lawnmower. It can reduce the effort and manual handling required for mowing.

Or, they could have artificial turf installed. Their evergreen lawn will be the envy of all their neighbours, and best of all, they’ll never have to water it.

Clever planting

Being strategic with planting is important. Your loved one could fill easily accessible pots – think windowsills, balconies and decks – generously with herbs, mixed lettuce and colourful flowers. Throughout the rest of the garden they could plant low-maintenance, drought-resistant foliage that doesn’t require too much upkeep.

There are always tricky situations that may require individual attention. Talk to an occupational therapist, who can provide specific advice to optimise your friend or relative’s independence and engagement with gardening.

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