After a winter spent locked down, it's fair to say we're all itching to get out into the garden when summer comes around this year. If not for the chance to finally get back to being green-fingered, then for the myriad physical and mental health benefits gardening brings.
However, the prospect of getting injured or hurt when out in the garden is a major concern for many retirees who live independently. It is natural to worry, of course, but it shouldn't mean an end to experiencing the great outdoors.
Continue reading, below, to find out how you can make your garden safer and more manageable in time for the summer sun.
Hire a gardener
Clearing weeds, mowing lawns and pruning hedges are simple enough tasks on the surface, but they can be hazardous for homeowners who experience mobility issues. Even the fittest gardener needs to be careful, considering that around 87,000 people are injured every year in their gardens.
If you do live on your own or struggle with mobility issues, we recommend hiring a gardener to keep your outdoor space looking its best for 365 days a year. Weekly, fortnightly or monthly, a gardener tackles all the tasks that prove too difficult, dangerous, or are just a pain, for independent retired homeowners.
Typical gardener rates range between £14-£25 per hour.
Plant a low maintenance garden
It might sound like a contradiction but keeping busy in the garden has a helpful habit of introducing inner peace, while also improving your well-being.
However, the work can sometimes be strenuous, leaving you sore and aching – especially when faced with demanding plants and flowers. By planting low maintenance flora and fauna, you can still enjoy the health benefits of gardening, just without the stiff knees and sore back.
Flowers like lavender, snowdrops and zinnias, for example, fill your garden with a cornucopia of beautiful colours and are very easy to maintain. Once well rooted, these florae rarely need watering or pruning when grown in the ground, saving you the effort of daily maintenance.
Weeding your garden is also laborious work that puts a lot of strain on joints and muscles. To save getting down on your hands and knees to pluck them out of the earth, try pouring boiling water onto the plants (it loosens the roots and makes removal less strenuous). Alternatively, plant weed-repelling flowers, such as geraniums, around your garden to discourage wildflower growth.
Remodel your garden to suit your needs
Of course, after taking a long, hard look at your garden, you may come to the conclusion that neither hiring a gardener nor planting low maintenance shrubs goes far enough. What it needs is a complete makeover!
We can't all be lucky enough to get that knock at the door from Alan Titchmarsh for a free TV makeover, so your best bet is to look online for landscape gardening companies in your area and get two or three quotes.
An experienced professional will be able to listen to your specific needs and come up with a design that will transform your outside space. You may want to make it totally accessible with new pathways and low maintenance astro turf, perhaps you want to add a patio – or even a bar - to socialise with family and friends, or you’d like to transform the view from your window with a breath-taking water feature. You will find plenty of inspiration for your new garden online.
The downside of getting in the professionals is that the total cost can quickly spiral once you take into account the garden designer, materials, furniture, labour and so on.
With equity release, you can unlock the value of your home to receive tax-free cash, either in instalments or as a lump sum. As well as helping to pay for large-scale investments such as a garden makeover, equity release cash can help you cover the expenses of a gardener to maintain your new garden and keep it looking beautiful all year round.
Get a personal alarm
While many people love nothing more than relaxing on their favourite deckchair in the sun, going out in the garden does come with its downsides, especially for retirees who love their garden but are concerned about what they might do in the event of a fall.
To enjoy the health benefits of your garden free from worry, a personal alarm is a fantastic option. Worn on your wrist like a watch, these devices are reliable and easy to use – all you need to do is press a single button to get help in an emergency, both in your home and out in the garden. Many personal alarms have a range of 75 metres from the base unit (typically stored in the house), allowing you to safely call for help from the outdoors.
Personal alarm prices typically range from £12-£20 per month (or up to £240 per year), which includes the device itself and 24-hour emergency response. For retirees who are solely reliant on a state pension, it could prove difficult to find the cash to provide that peace of mind.
One of the most effective solutions to finding extra funds with very little additional effort in retirement is equity release. Equity release allows you to receive 28.5% to 58% of your home’s market value, giving you not only the option to pay for those 'big money' projects, like home renovations or dream holidays, but also the smaller, everyday essentials that you might have struggled to afford before - such as a personal alarm!
To find out more about how equity release can provide financial security in retirement, get in touch with the Equity Release Supermarket team on freephone 0800 802 1051 or email [email protected].