Gardening tips from Exemplar Health Care’s residents

28 August 2020

gardening tips

When lockdown hit, it’s no surprise that many of us discovered (or rediscovered) the joy of gardening – and saw how it boosts your wellbeing, and makes you feel better.

Gardening is considered such a great hobby that the government plan to begin ‘social prescribing’.

This means people will get support and encouragement to take up gardening – among other initiatives – as a way to stay connected and well following the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But as many people have discovered after finding your trowel and dusting off the gloves, gardening is not always easy.

Luckily, many of Exemplar Health Care’s 700+ residents living in our homes love gardening – and have seven handy tips to share with you!

Water plants at the base of the stem

It can be tempting to water the plant’s leaves so that they look dewy and fresh – but try to avoid doing this. “Wet leaves can scorch in the sun,” says Stewart at St Andrew’s Court, our complex needs care home in Hull.

Instead, apply water lower down, where the stem of the plants stands up through the soil.

Stewart should know. He’s out in the home’s garden most days, and keenly watches the peppers and tomatoes grow. He also loves flowers, and has a Chrysanthemum in his room.

Keep weeds at bay by mowing the grass regularly

That’s what Amanda at Parkside, one of our two Tipton homes, says. Amanda particularly enjoys chatting with other residents in the garden, playing badminton, and watering the plants.

But how regularly should you mow?

“Mow the grass every week, but only in summer,” says Ian at Kavanagh Place in Liverpool. Ian used to be a full-time gardener, and now leads several other residents growing vegetables at their home.

“Don’t try to mow the grass wet, because the grass comes up in clumps,” Ian adds.

When de-weeding, mix your weed killer in the watering can

It’s a lot easier to mix your weed killer with water than to try to apply it directly, as some rookie gardeners try to do. Follow the instructions on the weed killer container to get the right ratio of weed killer to water. “De-weed every three months,” says Ian.

Make sure to wash out the watering can thoroughly after use!

Water your plants regularly, especially in hot weather

“Water the plants and flowers in the evening when it’s cooler, so they can blossom,” says Stephen from Parkside. Stephen is visually impaired, and he keenly enjoys the sensory aspect of the garden – hearing the birds tweeting and enjoying the fresh air.

When you’re watering the plants, the key is to avoid the hottest times of the day.

“Don’t water plants when the sun is too hot,” adds Ian. “If it gets too hot, they burn.”

But skip the water if it rains

If you’re growing plants or vegetables and it rains, don’t water them.  “The plants won’t need water,” says Ian, who, as an early riser, always waters his plants in the morning.

Remember: more people accidentally kill their plants from watering them too much, rather than not watering them enough.

Also, make sure that the vegetable plants have adequate drainage – this means making sure that there are holes in the bottom of the pots or containers that you plant them in. You’ll know that you’ve got adequate draining when you can see water running from the containers when you water them.

Feed flowering plants regularly

“This will keep them healthy and keep them flowering,” says Stewart.

This means using plant food one or twice a week, depending on what plants you’re growing.

But what flowers would our residents recommend?

Roses and daffodils make a garden look pretty

So says Jackie from Parkside, who spends most days in the home’s gardens, and enjoys watering the plants. She hopes soon to plant her favourite blooms in the home’s garden.

If you’re not a fan of roses and daffodils, see what looks pretty in your local garden centre. And if you’re new to gardening, just make sure to check with a member of staff that the plants you’ve chosen are easy to grow.

We really hope that we’ve inspired you to make a start with gardening - there’s just enough summer left to get growing!