If you struggle with garden maintenance due to reduced mobility or your health it needn’t mean the end of your enjoyment with plants. Here, you’ll find 10 practical and effective tips to help you create an easy-care garden that suits your needs and abilities. From raised beds and ground cover plants to the right tools and varied tasks, these insights will empower you to embark on a fulfilling gardening journey.
Here are our 10 top easy-care garden tips:
Raise the soil level or use raised beds to improve access
Raising the soil level or using raised beds is a game-changer for people living with reduced mobility, improving accessibility, comfort and greater independence.
Raised beds provide easy access and reduce the need for bending or kneeling. You can build your own beds or buy them pre-made from a garden centre. They’re perfect for growing flowers, herbs or even vegetables.
Pathways and accessibility
Garden pathways should be wide enough for easy manoeuvring with a mobility aid, such as a walking frame or wheelchair. Consider using non-slip surfaces and installing handrails for additional support. If necessary, seek professional advice to make your garden more accessible and safe.
If you are thinking of ways to help someone make better use of their garden, you could lay carpet or old linoleum as a low-cost way to create low-resistance routes and offer them greater accessibility. While not as stable as a professionally laid pathway, it provides an easy way to get around the garden and best still you can roll up the walkways when you’ve finished and store them away.
Avoid fast-growing plant
Your garden can quickly become overgrown in summer – especially after a period of rain. Avoid plants such as Wisteria, Ivy and bamboo (unless potted). Even though they are beautiful, they will require frequent pruning and maintenance through the growing season.
Fast-growing plants such as Leylandii, Russian vine and Buddleja often demand regular pruning to control their size and shape, which can be challenging if you are having to stretch often to keep them in check. By selecting slower-growing plant varieties such as Ceanothus, Hellebores or Camelias, you can enjoy a more manageable garden that requires less pruning, allowing you to focus your time and energy on other aspects of gardening and ensuring a more enjoyable and sustainable gardening experience.
Use ground cover plants to cut down on weeding
Remove or reduce areas of the garden which require frequent maintenance.
Weed the area thoroughly – get help with this if you find it a struggle – and add a weed control membrane before covering it with mulches of bark or gravel to help suppress weed growth and conserve moisture in the soil.
Grow vegetables on a small scale for less effort – for example in containers. If raised beds aren’t your thing, container gardening is a less labour-intensive alternative. Use large pots or planters placed at a comfortable height. This way, you can move them around easily, adjust their position for optimal sunlight and tend to your plants without straining your back or joints.
Replace hedges with fences for easier maintenance
When summer arrives hedges become very needy. They require regular pruning to maintain their shape and size, and this can be time-consuming and physically demanding.
Replacing hedges with fences that generally require less maintenance can save you a significant amount of space, allowing you to reclaim valuable garden areas that can be used for other purposes, such as creating seating areas, installing garden features, or cosmetically just opening up a tidier space.
This is not an easy fix as the hedge will need to be professionally dug out to prevent regrowth.
Find the lightest tools with the widest handles as they are easiest to grip
Invest in lightweight and ergonomic gardening tools. Look for tools with comfortable handles that are easy to grip. Long-handled tools with telescopic handles can also be helpful, allowing you to reach plants without excessive bending or stretching. Don’t forget to use a sturdy garden stool or kneeler to provide extra support while working.
Tools that are light and comfortable to use require less physical effort, reduce the risk of strain and allow you to garden comfortably for longer periods.
Low maintenance landscaping
Consider changing your outdoor space to a low-maintenance garden, incorporating features like gravel paths, ground covers and rock gardens. These elements free you of the burden of extensive lawn care and provide an attractive and hassle-free alternative.
Think strategically about what you want from your garden and design with low maintenance in mind. Consider using perennial plants that come back year after year, as they require less effort and time compared to annuals.
It is good practice to group plants with similar watering and sunlight needs together to reduce the amount of care. The purpose of designing your space like this is to limit the amount of time you spend working rather than enjoying it. This extends to the plants you choose to use. Select plants that are known for their hardiness and don’t need much intervention from you. Native plants, succulents and drought-tolerant varieties are often good choices as they can withstand various weather conditions and require less water and attention.
Pay attention to your plants. Check your garden for pests, diseases or nutrient deficiencies. Early detection and timely intervention can prevent problems from escalating, saving you time and effort in the long run.
Vary your gardening tasks to vary body movements
If you have lost some mobility or find it difficult to kneel and stand repeatedly, it is only natural that your confidence will take a hit. However, changing your posture while you work can improve overall comfort and physical wellbeing and reduce muscle fatigue.
Regularly changing your gardening posture helps to maintain joint mobility and flexibility. Moving through different positions encourages a wider range of motion, stretching and strengthening muscles and ligaments and promoting joint health.
Varying your posture engages different muscle groups and helps maintain physical and manual dexterity. This helps prevent muscle imbalances which can lead to poor posture, joint instability and increased susceptibility to injuries.
Join a local gardening club or community garden to connect with fellow gardeners. They can provide support, advice and even assistance with more physically demanding tasks. Gardening is a rewarding experience and sharing it with like-minded people can make it even more fulfilling.
Whether it’s raised beds or easy-care plants, just a few small changes can make all the difference and help you and those close to you get the most out of your outdoor space without having to labour over it.
If you found these 10 easy-care gardening tips helpful, you’ll find more helpful advice about making outdoor spaces accessible on our Gardening channel.Tags: container gardening, Gardening, raised beds, weeding Last modified: June 13, 2023