Garden Forever
Tips for people-friendly plantings- by Mary Fran McQuade

If you're finding gardening more work and less fun, maybe it's time for a garden makeover.

  • Lawns are lovely, but they're not always the best choice for the busy older gardener. Less grass, more patio or deck could be more comfortable for you. You'll still have plenty of energy for flowers, veggies and other growing things.
  • Trade in fussy turf for tough groundcovers, especially if you garden in the shade. English ivy (Hedera helix), lamium, bugleweed (Ajuga), periwinkle (Vinca minor) and sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum) are some possibilities. Or install an array of dramatic, low-care ornamental grasses.
  • Move up from fiddly annuals and perennials to well-behaved flowering shrubs. Dwarf and slow-growing varieties are available that look good, fill space and require little care.
  • Choose plants that give you a big return for the effort you invest in them. Daffodils and the small spring bulbs tend to be long-lived and increase over time. Tulips and lilies are more temperamental, and tender summer-flowering bulbs have to be lifted and toted inside each year.
  • Herbs are particularly people-friendly. Most are happy in containers and can join you indoors through the winter. They look good, smell great and are easy to care for. Plus, they're handy to toss in salads or the soup pot.
  • Bring your garden within reach by gardening in planters, raised beds or containers. All are a great solution for people with limited mobility or who tire easily. They combine well with deck and patio layouts, too.
  • You can grow almost anything in a container today, from tomatoes to flowers to vines and small trees. Make sure your planters have drainage holes and use a loose soil mix with lots of perlite or vermiculite to allow roots to breathe.

Adapt your garden to your lifestyle and live -- and garden -- happily ever after.

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