Now that you’re retired and have more time on your hands, you may be uncertain what to do with all those extra hours. Perhaps you’re excited to pick up an old activity that you had to set aside for work or family, or you could be looking to explore a new hobby.
Either way, you should consider an activity that will benefit your mind and body but doesn’t cost a lot. There are many hobbies out there that can get your body moving, keep your mind sharp, and fill you with a sense of purpose — but none of them are quite like gardening.
You don’t have to be born with a green thumb to get a lot out of gardening. You also don’t have to spend a lot of money — or a lot of time. Here are three tips from senior gardening enthusiasts that will get you excited about growing and help you save money while you do it.
Start with Containers
No yard? No problem! Container gardening is a great activity for seniors who live in an apartment or condo. You can grow fruits, vegetables, flowers, foliage, and even small trees. A container garden is more than just decor for your home, as being surrounded by plants can help you breathe easier, lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and help you bring healthy homegrown food to your table. Believe it or not, you can grow tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, strawberries, blueberries, and even fruit trees in containers. Just be sure to understand the amount of sun the plants need and what your home — indoor and outdoor — can offer. You can save money when starting your container garden by visiting major retailers like Lowes or Home Depot. Look for Lowes coupons or Home Depot weekly specials to get the most bang for your buck.
Starting a low-maintenance garden will help you decide if you are ready to take on the regular tasks of tending to a garden. Some gardens require daily care, while others can be managed on a weekly basis. If you are just starting to flex your green thumb, try planting perennials, shrubs, and trees. Go with drought-tolerant plants that require less water so you don’t have to feel stressed to water them every day. Also, dig into laying mulch in your flower beds — that will mean less weeding. And consider installing a drip irrigation system. It sounds complex, but it is really simple to do and means you won’t have to haul watering cans or hoses around the yard.
Another option that’s low-maintenance and that helps stave off weeds is a raised bed. By building your garden up off the ground you can have a more accessible garden that’s easier on the back and joints. Even a low-maintenance garden keeps your mind active, which can lower a senior’s risk for depression, anxiety, and stress.
DIY Projects That Save More Than Money
Gardening is all about growing, but not just plants. You can grow as a person, too — your knowledge of the environment, your compassion as a caregiver, and your appreciation for conservation. DIY gardening projects help you explore these new skills while also saving money. For example, you can put your critical thinking skills to work turning a large trash can into a bin to collect rainwater. This project will help you save money on water utilities and keep your thirsty plants satisfied. You can also upcycle almost any household container to hold plants and add them as decor to a flowerbed. Old mirrors, headboards, birdcages, and picture frames can be transformed into works of art for your garden — and they can transform your mind. In fact, gardening has been shown to have a 36% reduction in dementia risk.
Gardening is what you make of it. You can spend a lot of time or very little caring for your plants as long as you go with plants that thrive with that kind of attention. You can also make gardening more accessible to your needs by purchasing a comfortable kneeler, and using high-quality gloves and tools. Keep in mind the internet is filled with coupon codes that can help make the supplies more affordable. Whatever method for gardening you choose, just know you’re picking up a hobby that can bring you joy for years to come.
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