Guest Rant by Shenandoah Kepler

I’m a Baby Boomer and am told that just as we changed the work environment as we entered it, we’re now changing the nature of retirement and aging. So, have you noticed that you can now go into most big-box hardware stores and find hardware to make it safer to negotiate the interior of your home? Items such as grab bars, step-in bath tubs, toilet seat risers, and pull-out kitchen shelves are available off the shelf without special orders. This might be some indication of the consumer-buying power of my generation as we age.

So many of us Boomers live in suburban sprawl, though. We have homes sited on some portion or multiple of a landscaped acre. We have bushes to trim and gardens to tend. How do we continue to do these tasks as we age? Exercise is good, and few of us are ready to hire out all our landscaping tasks.  I’ve noticed that mowers now have electric plug-in starters to make it easier to start them. Many of the motorized tools for landscaping now come in all-electric versions rather than just gasoline-motored versions that are a lot heavier. I’ve even seen an electric wood chipper for the backyard.

But I think the outdoor chore-machine manufacturers are not adapting as quickly as the indoor ones, and I’m not sure why that is. So here’s my wish list of items that would sure help me in the garden. If you agree and want easier to operate garden tools, leave a note with your favorite tool manufacturer if they have a presence on Facebook or Twitter.

– Motorized wheel barrow or robot cart with remote control to carry gardening goods into and out of our back yards.

– A mower-like riding machine that has carrying capabilities for our gardening chores, maybe a rack for tools, a bucket for plants, and a flat for carrying mulch bags, gravel, etc.

–  A vacuum cleaner for leaves that shreds them and returns them to the garden as mulch. I’ve seen leaf blowers that sort-of vacuum leaves, but they’re heavy sling-over-the-shoulder machines that remind me of why there are wheels on my indoor carpet vacuum.

– Landscaping mats that are heavy like paving, but light enough to install like roll-out carpet. Mats that could be rolled over by users of walkers and rollators or even those in wheelchairs!

– Big-box hardware stores have subcontractors that will come to your home to measure for new doors and windows, lay flooring, install a backyard shed, or install bathroom fixtures. Why not someone who’s vetted that will come and estimate for the labor of putting down paving, or install raised beds for gardening?

These raised beds are 4 X 4 feet and were home-built because we couldn’t find them like this in a store – with built-in seats.

What are your ideas about making it easier in the garden , whether you’re a Boomer or not? 

Shenandoah Kepler gardens in Central Florida and blogs at Fleeting Architecture – Diary of an Ancient Gardener.