Gardening is all about planning.
We plan how our garden beds will be shaped, then what plants we’ll put in them for maximum color and texture.
Then, throughout each season, we think about what plants need to be replaced, deadheaded, divided or relocated.
But garden experts say our planning shouldn’t stop there. We should also plan how to safely garden now and into our golden years.
Zannah Crowe, a horticulturist at Johnson’s Gardens in Cedarburg, said because gardening is considered a fairly physical activity, individuals should be mindful about how they approach their tasks.
“It becomes more of an issue as we age,” she said. “We can get away with more with our younger bodies. … But as we age we have to be careful we don’t sustain a dramatic injury. As you feel you begin to reach your limitations, you need to make accommodations as to how you work.”
Crowe, who has been gardening for about 35 years, said that, for example, at one time she used a tote bag to carry all her gardening tools; that now she uses a wheelbarrow, as it’s easier.
“Maybe 10 years from now I’ll find a cart is better for me. My dad is 90, and he’s still gardening. He can’t bend down, so he does the majority of his gardening in elevated containers. Sometimes something as simple as that can keep you working in the garden.”
Ann Loper, volunteer chairwoman of the Lifelong Gardening Committee, said her organization suggests that gardeners start thinking about gardening safely “right off the bat. You don’t want to wait until you have your aches and pains,” she said.
The committee is part of the Southeast Wisconsin Master Gardeners program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Extension, and its mission is to present ways for gardeners of all ages to garden for life.
Loper said one of the most important aspects of safe gardening is to learn proper body mechanics.
“When you’re lifting, you should squat down and bend at the hips and knees instead of the waist,” she said. “And when you carry something, for example, a tray, hold it with your hands under it and carry it with your forearms close to your body,” she said.
She said there are also a lot of products available to…