Retirement offers the time and space to try new hobbies and experiences. With a wide variety of hobby options, it’s important to look for an option that can be altered to fit your new lifestyle perfectly. Gardening, most often known as a hobby that lowers groceries or increases a home’s curb appeal, also offers health, mood, community involvement benefits, and more. Why should you consider gardening? With a focus on improving retirement, we’ve compiled these reasons to get into gardening.
1- Gardening Keeps You Active
According to a Kansas State University study, tasks such as mixing soil, filling pots, and watering plants is a valuable way to actively strengthen hands of older adults. Working both upper and lower body muscles also makes gardening a moderate intensity exercise. Things such as watering plants and pulling weeds work upper body muscles, lifting mulch works lower body muscles, and raking works the entire body.
To help your body prepare for garden work, consider these gardening specific hand and body stretches to maximize the exercise experience while making the activity safer for your body.
2- Backyard Produce Encourages A Healthier Diet
Vegetable gardening positively impacts diet as those who cultivate vegetables are shown to consume 40% more vegetables and are 3.5 times more likely to consume the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables per day. Gardeners also tend to share the produce they grow, thus improving the vegetable intake of their friends and family and keeping them connected to their social network.
3- Outdoor Tasks Improve Your Mind and Immune System
Spending time tending a garden aides brain and mental health by keeping the mind occupied with gardening tasks and providing a sense of achievement. Gardening also reduces the risk of dementia by 36% in men and women aged 60 years and older and provides exposure to sunlight, an important element in boosting immune system and mood by providing vitamin D. As an additional mood boosting bonus, a specific bacteria found in soil releases serotonin in the brain, a natural anti-depressant that strengthens the immune system.
4- A Garden is a Therapeutic Environment
Studies collected by Growing Health also find that surrounding yourself with a natural environment reduces stress, provides relaxation, and can even improve healing processes. Many hospitals consider therapy gardens an important part of a healing process or lowering blood pressure and stress. According to the Scientific American, just three to five minutes spent looking at a garden reduces anger, anxiety, and pain, causing relaxation and a more peaceful state of mind.
5- Gardens Change to Fit Your Needs
Gardens can range from an entire backyard to an arrangement of potted plants on a patio, allowing you to form a garden to fit your desired activity and ability level. If you plan on traveling during the growing season it’s easy to plant a garden that is easy for a friend or neighbor to manage. Try these helpful tips for gardening in small spaces and see how any space can be used for a garden. Want to grow vegetables yet feel an in-ground garden isn’t feasible? Many vegetables are well-suited for container gardening.
If your home is geared towards aging in place, consider planting shrubs, ornamental grasses, and perennials that will be easy to manage down the road as activity levels and gardening needs shift. These tips for gardening as you age will help form a plan for those who wish to nurture a garden for years to come.
6- Community Involvement
For vegetable or herb gardeners, the Lawrence Farmers’ Market is not only a way to take in extra income, it’s a way to meet fellow gardeners. Swap gardening tips with new friends while meeting people from across the community who attend the market to purchase produce. Not interested in a garden? The Farmers’ Market is still a great place to meet new people and experience Douglas County culture.
Participating in a community garden is another way to stay involved while experiencing the health and wellness benefits of Gardening. In Lawrence, the Common Ground program works with the city government to transform vacant or under-utilized city properties into vibrant community gardens for residents. The Common Ground community gardens alone have produced over 5,200lbs of produce donated to local food pantries. A product of the Common Ground program, the Lawrence Fruit Tree Project also provides opportunities through their community orchard. For more chances to garden in the community, Lawrence Parks and Recreation offers several opportunities throughout April and May for volunteers to assist with planting flowers and park clean up.
Ready to Start Gardening? Here’s How.
Gardeners of all experience levels can find a variety of plants, trees, shrubs, and even vegetables suitable for any experience level at Douglas County’s many unique greenhouses. A local favorite, the Henrys’ Plant Farm, not only features a wide variety of plants, their Family Gardens also feature water gardens complete with koi, a large butterfly garden, morning glory tunnel, and roaming peacocks to enhance your experience. Vinland Valley Nursery also offers organically grown annuals, herbs, typical plants, trees, and more at both at their Baldwin City farm and at the Lawrence Farmers’ Market. Additional greenhouses and nurseries include Pine’s Garden Center and Greenhouse, and a Lawrence branch of the midwest Kaw Valley Greenhouses. The Lawrence Public Library provides a Seed Library program where you can “check out” seeds to grow in your garden. The Seed Library program even offers events and classes to help citizens learn more about gardening and the environment.
For additional gardening involvement, the Douglas County Master Gardeners have an extensive program geared towards providing research-based information. Master Gardeners help mentor those acquiring new gardening related skills while volunteering to help with horticulture projects that benefit their community.
Whether it’s a collection of potted plants or a vast backyard paradise, a garden in any form is the perfect accent to your life with many benefits to you as a person. With numerous local resources and a beautiful spring season, it’s the perfect time to start a gardening journey as you ReINVENT Retirement and Live the Lawrence Life.
Do you think gardening is the best retirement hobby? Tell us about your favorite hobby or share a photo of your garden with us!