Gardening at Any Age: Tips for More Accessible Planting, Weeding & Harvesting

Gardening can be an incredibly rewarding hobby that offers some pretty amazing benefits for both our physical and mental health. But let’s be honest, gardening can also be a lot of tough work. And depending on age and ability, that could be a problem for people. In this article, I’m going to focus on two different gardeners — children and seniors — and ways to help make the garden a more inclusive space for them.

First up, gardening with kids.

Gardening with Children

Gardening At Any Age - Care2

In the age of electronics, it’s never been more important to take time outside with children. Gardening and children are a natural match. They’re a great place to cultivate learning experiences in a fun way that will keep kids interested. Time spent together in the garden can help build and develop communication skills. Kids learn responsibility throughout the process of planning a garden, planting the seeds and watching them grow.

Studies show when children have direct contact with soil — like during digging and planting — they have improved moods, better learning experiences and even decreased anxiety. Plus, gardening can encourage kids to eat the foods they grow which mean more vegetables in their diets. Children who develop the habit of eating fruits and vegetables in childhood are more likely to continue the practice as an adult.

Gardening with children requires some considerations, depending on age and ability. Here are a few things to keep in mind along with a few tips to keep things fun:

  • Keep instructions light, fun and most importantly, easy to understand.
  • Get the right-sized tools and gardening gloves designed to fit small hands. Rakes, hoes, spades, trowels and watering cans are available in child sizes and having their own “real” set of tools gives kids a sense of pride.
  • Speaking of little hands, choose larger seeds that are easier for small hands to hold. Plants like peas, pumpkins, squash and sunflowers are easy to grow and have larger seeds.
  • Plant fast-growing plants to keep children interested. Try growing lettuce, radishes, cherry tomatoes, which all grow quickly.
  • Choose “snack plants” like carrots, cucumbers or cherry tomatoes. Kids love to snack on the foods they either helped to grow or grew themselves.
  • Pick plants with a variety of textures like fuzzy, rubbery, prickly or smooth. Children will enjoy examining their differences and experimenting with each one.
  • Create a themed garden! From fairy gardens to butterfly inns to the delicious-sounding pizza garden there are plenty of ways to get creative with plants. Like this rainbow garden idea using Zinnias for example, which have the bonus of having larger-sized seeds for small hands!

Don’t forget the sun protection. Children should wear a hat. Preferably a large, floppy hat for extra silliness (silliness is recommended, but not required). And sunscreen, applied and reapplied as necessary.

Senior Gardeners

Gardening at Any Age - Care2

For older adults, staying active and finding ways to pass the time is beneficial to both their physical and mental health. Gardening is therapeutic. It provides exercise, stimulation, a sense of accomplishment and other benefits for older people which can boost their self-esteem. In fact, a Stanford University study found that spending as little as 90 minutes outdoors can reduce depression and improve overall mental wellbeing.

Some gardening activities will require some adaptation as we age though. Here are a few tips for having an elderly accessible garden:

  • Raise the beds. Containers and raised beds are ideal for the elderly because they help to minimize bending. Make sure to have enough room on all sides to reach the center.
  • Provide a place to rest. Place stools near raised beds and containers or other areas around the garden to sit and rest when needed.
  • Keep it light. If planting in containers, make sure they are made of lightweight material and have handles for more comfortable handling. If possible, attach wheels to containers before you plant to make moving them more manageable.
  • Grow up. Grow vine-type vegetables like tomatoes or cucumbers, or climbing flowers which will make tending, pruning and harvesting easier.
  • Have a Watering Plan. Use soaker hoses or another irrigation method to keep the garden hydrated. These methods will eliminate having to drag out a heavy hose or carry a heavy watering can.
  • Make it Narrow. Reduce the need for stretching or over-reaching by planting in narrow spaces.
  • Get the right tools. Conditions like arthritis can make holding tools painful or even impossible. Instead, choose tools with foam grips to soften the handles. If stretching is an issue, choose “grabber” style tools that can be used from a sitting position. Brightly colored handles are useful for seniors with vision problems.

Seniors need sun protection too, they should wear a hat and sunscreen, applied and reapplied as necessary.

Do you garden with your kids? What about gardening with a parent, grandparent or elderly friend? My dad and I tend a vegetable garden together every year. Do you have a gardening tip I didn’t feature? Tell me about it in the comments.

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Photos: Thinkstock

48 comments

Shirley P
Shirley Plowman4 months ago

I HAVE A SMALL GARDEN AND ABSOLUTELY LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT IT!!
IT REALLY ADDS ALOT TO ONE'S LIFE.

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Barbara M
Past Member 5 months ago

thanks

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Graham P
Graham P5 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Janis K
Janis K5 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Naomi R
Naomi R5 months ago

thanks

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Danii P
Past Member 5 months ago

Thank you

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Danii P
Past Member 5 months ago

Thank you

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Olga N
Olga Nycz-Shirely5 months ago

TY

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Cathy B
Cathy B5 months ago

Thank you.

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Leo C
Leo Custer5 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

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