4. HEALTHY GARDENING ACTIVITY TIPS
Gardening for seniors
Research has shown that older gardeners (aged 65 and over) are more satisfied with life than non-gardeners. 70.9% of gardeners don’t feel old and tired, whereas just 57.3% of non-gardeners reported feeling the same. It’s no surprise. Gardening requires visuospatial skills, executive functioning, and memory – all areas which contribute to the healthy lifestyle of older people.
Top tips for getting kids involved in gardening
But it’s not just older people that can benefit from spending more time outside. Nowadays, getting children away from all the digital screens is no easy task. But gardening is a great chance for them to spend time in the fresh air to learn valuable skills. For instance, tending to a small patch of the garden gives them responsibility – they’ll have to water when necessary, as well as learning what time of the year to prune their plants. You’re just there for guidance.
To encourage your kids into the garden, here are five top tips.
- Give them their own patch. Dedicating a space will give them something to feel proud of.
- Let them get creative. Hanging baskets are a great way of letting kids pick out colourful plants.
- Test out unique ideas. Get their imaginations going by creating small paths to their patch, or building little fairy houses, for instance. Whatever you think they’ll enjoy.
- Bring it indoors. The fun can continue when they go inside. They could press dried flowers, or make a collage of crayon rubbings made from surfaces outside. Tree bark is a great starting point.
- Create space for games. Where possible, making room for games is a great way to keep them outside. Giant jenga or swing ball, for example, can be easily packed away afterwards.
Planning a child-friendly garden
You’ll also want to know that your children are safe in the garden. In the design of your outdoor space, make sure any changes of level are gradual or, if steps are required, there is a hand rail to support younger children walking down. Paths should also be level to ensure running children don’t trip up and ponds should ideally be fenced in when your kids are young.
If you have any trees in your garden, your children are likely to climb them – so make sure you keep an eye out for any dead branches too. Generally, though, if you’re spending enough time in your garden you’ll notice any potential dangers before accidents occur. But if you’re in the middle of a large task, extra vigilance may be needed. For instance, when you’re planting a new border and there are several large holes in the ground.
Safety advice for family gardening
- Garden together. Whilst it’s great for them to go and check on their plants independently, you should do all of the larger gardening projects together.
- Keep tools locked away. Make sure you tidy away all of the tools – rakes, shovels, hoes etc. – after you’ve finished. Better still, get them some child-sized plastic tools.
- Consider the weather. Common sense applies when you’re gardening as a family. For instance, if it’s really hot, avoid staying out in the middle of the day, apply plenty of sun cream and drink lots of water.