3 Best Ways to Garden for Older Adults


Spending time with Mother Nature is satisfying, but many people find it even more rewarding when they enjoy the fruits of their labour. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why gardening is growing in popularity amongst Canadians of all ages.

As gratifying as physical activities like gardening may be, there’s no denying that it can be tough on our bodies. Gardening requires a lot of bending, kneeling, stretching and lifting, all of which become more difficult as we age.

If your parents or grandparents love to spend time outdoors but find traditional gardening methods too physically strenuous, you should look for ways to make the task easier and safer.

Continue reading to learn how to make gardening easier for your parents and grandparents.


Gardening made easy for seniors — 3 safe and practical ways to grow fruits and vegetables.

Although the following tips are intended for older individuals, anyone with a green thumb can use them to make their gardening sessions easier, safer and less physically demanding:

  • Build or purchase raised beds 
  • Utilize vertical gardening techniques
  • Grow perennial herbs


Tip #1 — Build raised beds to ensure easy gardening for seniors

Building raised beds may sound like an unnecessary, additional step, but it will make your loved ones’ trips to the garden safer and more productive.

For those who don’t know, raised beds are semi-permanent planters placed directly in the garden and filled with soil. Raised beds are made of long-lasting materials, like wood or metal, and are generally two to three feet tall and six to eight feet long. 

Raised beds are much more convenient than traditional planters, allowing gardeners to access the top layer of soil without bending or kneeling. With this in mind, it’s clear that raised beds are an ideal option for older gardeners with chronic knee or lower back issues.

Pro tip — If your loved one doesn’t want to damage their lawn, you can build them a portable raised bed on extended legs. These raised beds can be moved throughout the gardening season, allowing your loved one to maximize sun exposure and protect their grass simultaneously.


Tip #2 — Utilize vertical gardening techniques

On a similar note, you can reduce the bending and kneeling your loved one has to do in the garden by taking advantage of vertical gardening techniques, like staking and trellising.



Attaching a vegetable or fruit plant to a stake keeps it off the ground, making it easier for your parents or grandparents to harvest their bounty. Additionally, growing plants up a stake minimizes the risk of pest damage (from critters like rabbits, mice and squirrels) and improves airflow around the plants.

Some plants that grow well up stakes include:

  • Tomatoes (6-foot stake)
  • Peppers (3-foot stake)
  • Eggplant (3-foot stake)
  • Pole beans (6-foot stake)


Trellising is a technique that (generally) uses multiple stakes and long pieces of string to support several vertical-growing plants. Using a trellis stops the plants from spreading across the garden beds and can even help minimize the risk of certain fungal diseases, like powdery mildew (Don’t panic! These diseases only affect the plants, not your loved ones).

Some plants that grow well up trellises include:

  • Cucumbers
  • Melons
  • Pole beans
  • Peas


Tip #3 — Grow perennial herbs

Perennial herbs are a fantastic and practical addition to any backyard garden, but they’re also a must-have for older gardeners that don’t want to spend all of their spare time maintaining plots.

Unlike annual crops (which only last one season), perennial crops grow back year after year, allowing your loved ones to enjoy several seasons’ worth of harvests from the same planting. 

Many perennial herbs, like thyme and mint, are very low maintenance. Your loved one will have an endless supply of their favourite herbs after giving their plants a quick prune in the spring and fall.

Before planting a perennial herb, reference your loved one’s gardening zone to ensure the plant will overwinter properly.

Some go-to perennial herbs include:

  • Mint (Mint is considered “invasive” and can rapidly spread throughout a garden if left unchecked. To prevent rapid spread, plant mint in a long, shallow container.)
  • Thyme
  • Certain types of savoury, like winter and creeping savoury
  • Chives
  • Tarragon
  • Rosemary
  • Dill (Technically an annual that readily self-seeds, allowing gardeners to harvest “volunteer” plants year after year)


9 gardening safety tips for older individuals

Even though gardening isn’t the most strenuous activity, there are some aspects you and your loved ones should consider before pulling out your trowels and gardening gloves.

If you want to ensure that you and your loved ones have productive, but more importantly, safe gardening sessions this summer, we suggest using the following gardening safety guidelines:

  • Drink lots of water
  • Work in the shade during the hotter parts of the day
  • Wear sunscreen
  • Wear long-sleeved clothing and a sun hat 
  • Avoid wearing opened-toed footwear while working with gardening tools
  • Avoid over-exerting yourself
  • Don’t use tools that you’re not comfortable/familiar with
  • Extend garden pathways to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs (if necessary)
  • Keep gardening tools clean and organized

These tips can help keep your parents or grandparents safe during summer gardening sessions.


Seasons’ Community Gardens program

Suppose your loved ones are considering transitioning into a retirement home but aren’t quite ready to give up their backyard garden. In that case, they’ll be happy to hear that Seasons Retirement has restored its Community Gardens program

Our team at Seasons Retirement encourages residents to work side-by-side with student volunteers in our lovely community gardens. Residents are welcome to plant, raise and tend to their beloved crops throughout the gardening season. 

Joining our Community Gardens program also allows your loved ones to meet new people with similar interests while spending time in the great outdoors.

If you’ve been searching for a retirement home for your parents or grandparents, contact our team at Seasons Retirement to learn about our various types of care.


Discover Life at Seasons. Book a Personal Visit Today.