Adaptive Gardening

We’re always on the lookout for new landscaping terms and just came across this one: Adaptive Gardening. We’ve been practicing it for years but the need for it has increased to the point that it needed a name, and there’s always somebody to oblige.

Adaptive Gardening refers to modifications to make landscapes easier on senior citizens. The graying of America has increased the need for adaptive gardening so much that national landscaping trade magazines are taking note. I have read several stories recently that alert landscapers to the special needs that should be considered when designing and planting landscapes for seniors.

There is even a certification that landscape contractors can earn to signify that they know the special needs of aging clients. In response to the Aging-in-Place movement, the National Home Builders Association (NHBA) created a course of study and examination for contractors to earn the Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) designation. NHBA is now expanding the credential to include landscape contractors.

What are some of the landscape changes you should consider as you prepare for your later years?

• Simplify your landscape. Select plants that are easy to maintain, and design your planting beds to minimize maintenance.

• Install raised beds so you can sit down on the job.

• Make your landscape more natural. Informal, natural landscapes are easier to maintain than formal designs that need constant trimming and shaping. Also use native plants and reduce the amount of lawn you have to mow.

• Improve lighting. Be sure paths and patios are well lit to reduce the chance of tripping and falling.

• Make paths wide and smooth with no steps or steep inclines.

• Include shady spaces with places to sit. (See photo)

If you are a do-it-yourself gardener, here are some additional adaptive gardening considerations:

• Take frequent breaks and keep hydrated. Rest in shady places.

• Dress for the occasion. Include a wide brimmed hat and long sleeve shirt, long pants, sunglasses and sunscreen. Wear darker clothes if you don’t want to attract insects,

• Do different tasks for a short time rather than working at the same thing all day.

• Invest in lighter weight adaptable tools with expandable handles and foam grips, knee pads or a stool, and a bucket to carry your tools in.

• Hire out what you can’t do yourself. One of our professional designers can help you determine your needs now and in the future, and design a landscape that you can enjoy for decades to come. And our maintenance professionals can help you with maintenance to any extent that you want. It’s important to know when it’s time to share the fun and call in the pros.

There’s a great blog that can provide you with more detail on each of the recommendations I have presented here plus more. It is: thegeriatricgardener.wordpress.com.

2 comments on “Adaptive Gardening

  1. I dunno. It sound too much like ‘working’ in the garden. I like the hammock between two redwoods approach.

  2. I believe that having a great landscaping in front of your yard is very important, not to improve your value of your residence, but to make you home feel like a home. I love this article and having proper lighting, and having everything else you stated is something that I will look into adding to my landscape!

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