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Gardening in Retirement Communities

Kimberly Fowler
By Kimberly FowlerJune 14, 2017

Living in a retirement community offers the perfect opportunity to embrace your interests and try new hobbies. With a variety of clubs and leagues available to join, chances are, you will meet a group of like-minded people with whom to experience your favorite activities or try something new. 

Some garden enthusiasts worry that moving into a retirement community means they’ll have to give up their green thumb, when in fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

Exercise Your Green Thumb in Your Retirement Community

Digging in the dirt has many amazing benefits — one reason why gardening is such a popular hobby. The amount of money spent on gardening increased last year, with baby boomers spending the most compared to other demographic groups, according to the 2017 National Gardening Survey.

Regular time spent in nature improves overall physical and mental health by keeping you active and reducing stress. Mixing soil, watering plants and pulling weeds are great forms of physical activity, and the level of intensity in performing these actions can be adjusted based on your abilities.

Mentally, gardening has been shown to improve relaxation and calmness, and reduce the risk of dementia by 36% in people aged 60 years and older. So, if you’re an avid gardener who is in a retirement community, it’s important to keep up with your hobby.

Retirement communities offer a variety of ways to embrace your passion for gardening. Whether you have a small patio, narrow balcony or large shared garden, there are many ways to continue to till the soil. Here’s how:

Window Boxes, Hanging Baskets and Vertical Gardens

Gardeners can hang pots and containers from hooks, mount them on walls or affix them to railings. Caring for potted plants is generally low maintenance and can be done while seated. Potted plants are easiest to look after if they are planted in proper conditions. Select a rich soil that contains compost and peat moss to give your potted plants the best chance to thrive, and choose containers that allow for proper drainage and are the correct size to encourage roots to grow freely. Frequent watering and fertilizing, and access to sunlight, will keep your plants healthy and happy.

When buying plants from a garden center, look at their tags to determine if they are suitable to grow in containers and to establish the proper conditions they require to flourish.

Container Vegetable Gardens

You can grow more than just decorative flowers in containers! Container vegetable gardens are a popular and surprisingly easy option for people living in a retirement community. Depending on your level of expertise and space available, you can grow anything from simple herbs to bathtub potatoes.

Consider your climate conditions. According to Burpee Seed Company, all herbs require full sun, but some, such as rosemary, prefer dryer soil and fewer nutrients. Others, such as basil, need more fertilizer and constant watering. Lettuce and spinach prefer cool temperatures, and root vegetables like carrots and beets do not require direct sunlight. It is easy to customize your garden space based on the climate in which you live and the conditions available.

Community Gardens

Community spaces offer an exciting cooperative gardening experience. Many retirement communities offer these public spaces which encourage people to come together to tend to a garden and share in the harvest. Community gardens offer raised beds and wheel-friendly pathways, making them a truly accessible experience for people of all levels of mobility. They also offer socialization and foster a sense of community.

The opportunities are endless when it comes to gardening, and establishing an outdoor green space in your retirement community isn’t as difficult as you may think. In fact, many communities provide the space and materials for gardeners, helping plants and people flourish — all at the same time.

Have you helped grow a community garden? We’d love to hear about your experience! Please share your stories below.

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Kimberly Fowler
Kimberly Fowler
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