Tips for Creating a Container Garden This Spring

Senior couple with granddaughter gardening in the backyard garden

Whether you live in an apartment with no room for a garden plot or are an older adult looking for safe ways to continue a lifelong passion, container gardening can be an enjoyable way to spend time. You’ll reap many of the same mental and physical health benefits that those with larger gardens experience, while also creating a beautiful space to enjoy nature well into the fall.

In our fast-paced, overly connected culture, stress and anxiety are common. Both can contribute to serious health issues, such as high blood pressure and depression. Of equal concern is just how many hours people are logging on their computers and electronic devices. It can lead to a sedentary lifestyle that puts adults at risk for obesity, diabetes, and some forms of cancer.

Container gardening can get you up and moving while also boosting the mind and spirit. Here’s what you should know about the health benefits of gardening and how to start your own container garden.

Health Benefits of Gardening
  • Stress relief: The very act of digging in the dirt can be calming, as can spending time in the great outdoors. Health experts often liken gardening to meditation because of its ability to reduce stress and promote mental health.
  • Lower risk of depression: Gardeners experience lower rates of depression than non-gardeners. Experts say one reason for this is that exposing your skin to sunlight increases your vitamin D levels. While you’ll want to be mindful of how much time you spend in the sun, vitamin D has been shown to boost mood and lift the spirit. Others believe gardeners experience less depression because planting and tending flowers and vegetables is an act of hope. It improves a person’s outlook on life.
  • Good exercise: Let’s face it, growing a garden is hard work, even in containers. It can help improve stamina, strength, and flexibility. These tips from AARP might help prevent achy muscles and gardening-related injuries.
Tips for Creating a Container Garden

Window boxes, wine barrels, hanging baskets, terra cotta pots, and raised beds can all make a good foundation for a container garden. To keep your gardens thriving all summer long, it’s important to do some planning before getting started:

  • Your personal style: Do you love the cheerfulness of a dwarf sunflower or marigold? Maybe it’s traditional flowers like geraniums or petunias that catch your eye? Think about the colors of your house and door and what flower colors might complement those. Look through garden magazines or visit sites like Proven Winners for ideas.
  • Shade or sunlight: You will also need to factor in how much light the space you’d like to place your garden receives each day. Is it in full sun, mostly shade, or a combination? Matching the plant’s sun/shade requirements with your space is essential for your garden’s success.
  • Container options: Some containers lend themselves to a more vibrant container garden than others. If you use a metal container and place it in full sun, for example, the roots may overheat. A planter box made from wood treated with chemicals might result in chemicals leaching into the soil. That can be a problem if you are growing herbs or vegetables in it.
  • Potting soil: A thriving container garden typically requires a potting mix specifically designed for containers, instead of regular garden soil. Your local garden center might have a region-specific mix you can purchase. If not, try a brand-name potting soil, such as Miracle-Gro or Espoma.
  • Good drainage: Another important element of a healthy container garden is having good drainage. It keeps the roots of a plant from sitting in water and rotting. If your container doesn’t have predrilled holes, add them with a drill or sharp tool, like a screwdriver or ice pick. If it’s not possible to put holes in the container without breaking it, cover the bottom of the pot with a layer of stone or gravel.
  • Watering schedule: When you are planning your garden, keep in mind that containers, window boxes, and raised beds need more frequent watering than in-ground gardens. If it’s difficult for you to carry a watering can around the yard, try to place your container garden near a water source or install drip irrigation. Your local garden center can probably help you with the supplies you need for a drip irrigation system.

Finally, remember how important it is to stay hydrated when you are working outdoors. And if you are gardening with an older adult, get to know the signs of dehydration. They can be different in seniors than in younger people.

Invest in a Mobile Monitoring Unit

One device that might make you feel a little safer working outside this summer is a mobile monitoring unit. In the event you have an accident or start feeling poorly, you can summon help with the press of a button. Call 1-844-203-5617 to learn more!