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Four Ways to Create a Comfortable Garden for Today and for Life

Four Ways to Create a Comfortable Garden for Today and for Life

By Toni Gattone,
Photographs courtesy of the author

People all over the world are gardening for the first time this year, and are discovering they’re enjoying the time they are spending at home, because their new gardens are bringing unexpected joy. 

If you're new to gardening, welcome! You will find it’s an exceptionally rewarding hobby, one that can benefit you mentally, emotionally, and physically. But as you know by now, having a productive garden is not without some work. That’s why I want to introduce you to a concept that may help you going forward.

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It’s called Adaptive Gardening and it teaches you how to be a resilient gardener, so no matter what happens, you’ll be able to bounce back. It enables you to think through how to start your garden today, with an eye to tomorrow.

Adaptive Gardening comes in handy if you have a bad back, sore knees, stiff shoulders, decreased muscle strength in your hands, or any physical constraint that could keep you from enjoying your garden.

Learning how to garden adaptively teaches us how to recognize what isn’t working, then through creativity and resilience, helps you to find another way to get it done. The good news is that when we learn how to adapt, we find new ways to create a garden that is not only comfortable, but sustainable for life.

What makes a garden comfortable? One that works for you instead of the other way around. 

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1. A comfortable garden fits you and your lifestyle.

Maybe you’re the type that likes growing big and bodacious flowers for making bouquets to bring into your home.

Many families have become interested in growing edibles this year due to tentative food supply disruptions, realizing: You can’t control what happens out there, but you can control what happens in your own backyard.

Coming together to work on a family garden can be fun and rewarding because the whole family decides what to plant and when to harvest. Then they can enjoy the fruits of their labor at the dinner table.

Another group of gardeners like to combine flowers and food by creating edible landscapes. Can you picture a planter with black-eyed Susan, curly parsley, and colorful calibrachoa spilling over the sides of a container? It’s the best of both worlds.

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2. A comfortable garden is easier on your body.

With raised beds, especially elevated waist-high raised beds, you don’t have to bend over or kneel down to tend to your garden. Raised beds can be modern with galvanized troughs or more traditional, made of long-lasting cedar. Even wheelchair users can garden with elevated raised beds in comfort.

I love incorporating containers for two reasons: You can sit down next to them to plant and tend, and they can be moved around as the seasons change. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how few weeds and diseases you’ll see when you garden in containers. 

Look around for vertical gardening opportunities with bean and tomato towers, vertical wall planters for growing lettuces, and hanging baskets or window boxes for splashes of color. If you have a pergola, it’s a great way to garden up with vines, climbing roses, and wisteria. Whatever you choose, vertical gardens are all about comfort because you stand up to work, then stand back to admire your finished product.

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3. A comfortable garden is easy on your wallet and your energy.

Once your garden has been modified to your physical needs, you won’t have to worry about redoing it later. You’ll save time and money by thinking through what’s important now while you’re planning for the future.

Take it one step further and incorporate self-watering planters. In addition to saving you money on your water bill, you’ll save time and energy, and you’ll have peace of mind when you are away from home. 

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4. A garden is comfortable when it’s lower maintenance.

You don’t have to work as hard when your tools fit your hand properly and are comfortable to use. You can adapt tools at home for pennies on the dollar, or invest in the many good quality ergonomic tools on the market today.

For flowers and ornamentals, annuals are fantastic for that burst of color, but a good rule of thumb is to buy perennials versus annuals because they last for years, whereas annuals have just one season. And flowering shrubs like hydrangeas, lavender, azaleas, or rhododendrons are less work than perennials.

When you're growing edibles, especially in the first year, keep it simple, start small, and only grow what you like to eat. Aim for success by growing plants that are easy to grow, like herbs, salad greens, and tomatoes. Add edible flowers, which are also easy, to add color and interest to your salads.

If you are new to gardening, congratulations! You’re going to love it, especially when you utilize the ideas and concepts from adaptive gardening. You’ll have years ahead of you to discover what you want to grow that will bring you ease and joy. That’s a winning combination for life.

Happy Gardening!

Toni Gattone is a speaker and author of The Lifelong Gardener: Garden with Ease and Joy at Any Age. She is also a master gardener and garden tool aficionado. You can learn more at:

All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

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