There are a lot of young families on my street. But one street over, ironically closer to the local park, a popular haunt for exuberant kids and desperate mothers, there are quite a few elderly residents. I peer into their yards whenever fences allow, and I wonder how some of them manage to maintain their gardens.
I’ve seen my neighbours lug heavy buckets of water, perch on step ladders to trim shrubs, and crouch on hands and knees to put in bulbs. Gardening can be a joy but it’s also hard work. Even a body that’s only been around for a couple of decades feels the strain when called on to repeatedly bend, hunch, kneel, rake, lift and dig.
Sure, other people can be paid to help. I pay someone to mow my lawn and lop back trees branches. But have you ever tried to get someone to do a few hours of hand weeding? Near impossible. The big franchises and landscaping companies won’t touch that kind of work, and I suspect that many older gardeners do it themselves – along with countless other maintenance jobs – because they are used to it, and because finding help is so onerous.
I have seen ads for products designed specifically for older gardeners. Some are stupid and opportunistic, but these seem worth looking out for:
Thick waterproof pads on which to kneel
Lightweight and ergonomic tools (just as strong and durable but made with materials like fibreglass)
Castors that attach to pot plants (for easy moving in or out of the sun)
Pullet systems to raise and lower hanging pots
Padded gardening gloves for those with arthritis
Secateurs with very long handles (to keep you off the step ladder).
If you’re the target market for these things do consider them – anything that allows you to keep doing what you love and thumb your nose at mortality is a good thing.
You might also want to resurface your garden paths with a nonslip coating, and raise as many of your beds as possible, as high as possible (especially those used for herbs and vegies) to allow you easier access.