Everyone has a garden story to tell. Start to mention an interest in gardening and it seems that people will share their adventures in nature. For example, I was on a flight back from San Diego and had the pleasure of sitting next to a woman who had several garden stories to tell. She and her husband live outside of Houston on a one acre parcel and have a passion for growing fruit trees. The winter was not very kind because a frost threatened their grapefruit trees. They had to pick all of the fruit, before it ripened, or it ruined by the frost.
I relate this story mainly because this gardener was even more concerned with how she and her husband will be able to maintain their fruit trees as they get older. They are currently in the 50′s and want to continue to live in their home for the rest of their lives. One of their concerns is how they will be able to work in their garden and care for their fruit trees and vegetable garden. Watering, pruning, weeding and all of the things that they need to do to help the garden thrive.
There is a lot to consider when we talk about aging-in-place, especially as it relates to the garden and yard in general. There is a growing need to help people adapt their yards to become age friendly outdoor environments. This will require an assessment of the yard to help people to continue to fully use their yard. In the case of the woman from Houston, installing a drip irrigation system; applying mulch to control weeds and retain moisture; planting disease resistant varieties of fruit trees; are a few of the ways people can help make it easier to create age appropriate gardens. It may also be possible to share the work with neighbors in exchange for a share of some of the produce when it ripens. Gardeners want to keep working in their garden and we need to find ways to help make it easier for everyone.