Gardening Advice

Less maintenance can mean less stress

Caring for a garden should be an enjoyable activity that calms the mind and brings you closer to the natural world. To achieve this try to minimise the tasks that you do not enjoy, or that you cannot cope with. It may be that your life circumstances have changed, due to health or injury. This is a time to re-think how you care for a garden, and what you hope to get from gardening. Most importantly, remember that it is your garden, and it is up to you what sort of garden you create, and how much work you want to put into it.

This information aims to provide some ideas on low-maintenance gardens, how to adapt a garden to meet your needs, and how to create a garden that encourages wildlife (which can help you with your gardening chores). Many people believe that as they get older, or their health changes, gardening is something that they can no longer enjoy. Even the smallest of spaces can allow a few pots for cultivation, and nurturing plants can be a therapeutic activity that contributes towards recovery following illness.

Let nature do the work

To minimise the work involved in gardening, take advantage of natures own pest controls. Grow plants that encourage animals and birds into your garden, and enjoy that contact with the natural world. Ladybirds are well known for their capacity for eating greenfly, lacewings and hoverflies do the same. Frogs are wonderful slug killers, and you do not need a huge pond to introduce frogs into your garden. A small (1 foot) hole, lined with plastic, is sufficient for frogs to exist. Even a large bowl or old sink will do the job. Add some oxygenating pondweed, and even some tiny fish, and you will have a micro pond that will encourage wildlife and keep down slugs.

Plants for wildlife

• Buddleia (Butterfly bush) – leaves and flowers are food for Butterflies.

• Anything with berries will feed birds which can be especially good in winter.

• Plants with wide, open flowers encourage Hoverflies and Bees.

• Nettles are essential food for certain Butterflies.

• A pile of old logs and twigs provide winter refuge for a host of beneficial insects.

Wild flowers and native plants are ideally situated to their situation, and will require little or no attention. They will encourage bees, birds and butterflies into your garden. Some wildflowers are now so rare in the countryside that they only survive thanks to gardeners giving up a small part of their garden.

Adapt your garden to meet your needs

Decide what you want from a garden, and then build a garden to meet your needs. Ask yourself:

• Do you really need a large lawn? Lawns require more care than any part of a garden.

• Have you considered using hard landscaping (gravel etc.) with a few choice pots? Even a sunny windowsill allows space to cultivate a few special plants.

Help & Care Handiworks Plus (available to residents of Bournemouth, Poole, East Dorset, Christchurch and Purbeck)

Handiworks Plus is available to anyone over the age of 18 living in the Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch, East Dorset and Purbeck areas. Members of Handiworks Plus can call one number 0300 111 3303 and report any repairs or household maintenance issues and we will arrange for an appropriate police checked tradesperson who is skilled in their trade to carry out the work required.

The Handiworks Team provide experienced, competitively priced trades people and will arrange all works on your behalf. The contractual relationship for each job is between you (the Handiworks Plus member) and the tradesperson. Handiworks Plus is a social enterprise, this means that 100% of any profits from the service provided by Handiworks Plus will fund Help and Care’s charitable work. Membership of Handiworks Plus costs £30 a year. The services available include:

General Handyman – small building works and maintenance, build flat pack furniture, fit draught proofing, put up curtain rails/blinds, moving furniture within the home, hanging mirrors and pictures, clearing gutters.

Electrical – rectifying loss of light or power, installing and repairing sockets and lights, fixing/replacing doorbells, installing outside security lights, installing power to new areas.

Carpentry – Door and window repairs, door furniture fitting and repairs, shelves fitted, skirting and architrave installation, repairs to sheds, fence and gate installation or repair.

Plumbing – Tap repairs and replacement, bath and sink traps unblocked, internal leaks fixed, WC flushing faults rectified, radiators bled, baths and sinks sealed, washing machines and dishwashers plumbed in.

Security and Safety – Window and door locks, spy holes and door chains fitted, smoke detectors, supply and fit key safes, grab rails.

Gardening – Weeding, mowing lawns, planting flowers and shrubs, trimming hedges, pruning. Arrangements can be made with our CRB checked gardeners to do regular work.

Gas and central heating – rectifying loss of heating, rectifying loss of hot water, repair faulty radiator valves, installation of boilers, gas cookers and fires, servicing boilers and gas fires.

Painting and decorating – internal and external painting, wallpapering, woodwork painting/staining, tiling, small areas of plastering.

Flooring – carpet and vinyl fitted, laminate and ceramic floor tiles laid.

Roots - via Help & Care

Roots is a local, honest, professional gardening service provided by a supervised group of volunteer trainees recovering from mental distress. Roots is a social enterprise and any profit made is gifted to Help and Care so that the charity can continue to provide help and support to people in the local community. The team work five days a week and is supervised by a Garden Services Worker.

Who can use Roots?

• Older people who can no longer manage their garden due to various reasons such as health and disability.

• Organisations and businesses in need of gardening and ground maintenance

Services include:

• Mowing lawns

• Strimming edges

• Hedge trimming

• Moderate pruning of small trees and shrubs

• Planting and weeding

• Sweeping up leaves

• Turfing

• Laying of small paving stones

Roots can also help with garden alterations to reduce garden maintenance or to enable people to maintain their own gardens. For further information and details of charges contact Roots at Help & Care on 0300 111 3303.

Sensory Gardens

A sensory garden is a garden that is created specifically to stimulate some or all of our senses. They are usually aimed at people who have some of their senses impaired, for example a garden may be particularly fragrant and have striking juxtapositions of colour for people who have a visual impairment. Sensory gardens do not have to be exclusively for those whose senses are impaired. One of the joys of gardening is the sensory enjoyment of the scents, colours and foliage of different plants.

Gardening on a budget

Many gardeners welcome the opportunity to share their passion with others. If you are gardening on a tight budget, it may be worth joining a local gardening group. This will enable you to swap plant cuttings, seeds, and other ideas with other gardeners. Look out for car boot sales and fetes where you may find bargains. Visits to municipal tips can provide a variety of unusual containers for plants, at very little cost, and at some tips you are able to purchase eco-friendly mulch for your garden.

Low maintenance advice for your garden

• Raised beds and containers help to reduce strain to your back and require less digging. Try to situate them near to a water supply to avoid carrying heavy watering cans over long distances.

• Lawns tend to require intensive maintenance, could you reduce the size of your lawn, or let part of it grow long to create a wild flower meadow area?

• Ground cover: any plant can be grown as ground cover. If a plant is growing in the right conditions it will thrive and force out other plants. Growing plants in tight clumps or drifts, leaving no space for weeds to establish.

Most importantly, enjoy your garden. Make it a space that works for you, and make caring for it an enjoyable and rewarding activity.

Local gardening clubs and organisations

Allotments – Christchurch

Christchurch Borough Council currently provides allotments on five sites around the borough. All sites are enclosed and have a dip tank water supply. Find out about allotments available in your area by contacting Christine Mockett.
Tel: 01202 495066
Email: c.mockett@christchurch&

Allotments – East Dorset

Allotments in East Dorset are administered by the local town or parish council. To find out the contact details visit your local library or the website:

Hardy Plant Society (Dorset Group)

Colehill Memorial Hall
Cannon Hill Road
BH21 2LR

The Hardy Plant Society exists to stimulate interest in growing hardy herbaceous plants. A friendly society which offers members the opportunity to meet other keen gardeners, share ideas and information. Meetings are held at Colehill Memorial Hall (see address above). The group organises celebrity lectures, special events and coach trips. For further details, contact Elaine Lofthouse, Tel: 01258 451580.


Sturminster Marshall Gardening Club

Brings together all those with an interest in gardening, a varied programme of talks and visits. Meets at Old School, Church Street, Sturminster Marshall on first Friday of the month at 7.30pm. For further details, contact: Sue Crowfoot, Tel: 01258 857606.

Wimborne Horticultural Society

For all who love gardening. 12 talks and 2 shows per year. Meets at the Allendale Community Centre on the 2nd Monday of the month at 7.30pm.
Meet January – March at 2pm
Membership £5 per person, £8 for 2 people.

For further details, contact Mr J Gillingham, Tel: 01202 887006

Useful local organisations

The Leonardo Trust

5 Dunyeats Rd
BH18 8AA
Tel: 01202 698325

The Leonardo Trust is an Independent charity set up to provide help and support for those who care for another person full -time , in their own home, within Dorset. The trust may be able to assist with funds for one-off gardening work that will benefit the carer.

Useful national organisations


The Geoffrey Udall Centre
Beech Hill
Tel: 0118 988 5688
Fax: 0118 988 5677

Gardening can help anyone with a disability. Through its research, education and promotional activities Thrive aims to show how, why and where people with a disability can benefit.


Gardening magazines available on tape

There are a number of gardening magazines that are available on tape and CD for people who are blind or visually impaired. Most audio publications are now available online, including over 200 newspaper and magazines for a subscription.

The Talking Newspaper Association

National Recording Centre
East Sussex
TN21 8DB
Tel: 01435 866102

Weekly: Amateur Gardening
Monthlies: BBC Gardeners World; Garden Answers; The Garden RHS; Which Gardening; and Homes and Gardens.

National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies CNAFAS

Osborne House
12 Devonshire Square
Tel: 0207 2475567

Lists UK clubs offering education and events to promote art and personal enjoyment of flower arranging. The website links to Dorset and Guernsey and Wessex and Jersey (Christchurch area).






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