Gardening is a much loved hobby for millions of people around the country. Maintaining a garden, small or large is a therapeutic form of exercise that encourages us to spend constructive time outdoors and, when all goes well and our plants flourish, can provide a real sense of satisfaction.

For some people tending a large garden can become more difficult as they get older. This often means people choose a property with more manageable outdoor space, such as a terrace, small garden or balcony rather than a large lawn, when they downsize in later life.

Smaller gardens can still offer ideal spaces for growing flowers, herbs and vegetables, as well as providing al fresco entertaining spaces during the summer months.

A recent YouGov survey commissioned by Anchor found that moving somewhere with green space was the second most important factor for downsizers. With this in mind, most properties at Anchor’s new Hampshire Lakes and Bishopstoke Park retirement villages have either a balcony or terrace, as well as benefitting from landscaped communal gardens, just like those at Denham Garden Village in Buckinghamshire.

Many of our residents choose Anchor retirement housing developments specifically because they know they will find like-minded neighbours at their new home and be able to enjoy community groups and societies such as gardening and horticultural clubs.

Having spoken with green-fingered Anchor staff and residents we have put together some top tips for pocket size garden planting and making the most of a smaller garden:

  1. Window boxes and hanging baskets. These planters can be hung over balconies and from wall hooks, further extending space available for growing flowers and herbs. They can really add colour and variety during the summer and improve the aesthetic of your property.
  2. Outdoor seating. ‘Parisian’ style metal round tables and chairs take up little space as the chairs can be folded away when they are not being used. Obvious as it sounds, having outdoor seating also encourages you to use your balcony or terrace more frequently and can provide the perfect space to enjoy a glass of wine and watch the world go by.
  3. Cooking for the kitchen. Having a smaller garden does not have to stop you growing herbs and vegetables: herbs and salad can be easily grown in small pots and tomatoes can be grown up trellises fixed to the wall. At many of Anchor’s retirement properties we also have communal kitchen garden areas where people can grow their own produce.
  4. Bird feeders. Hanging baskets can double up as bird feeders during the winter months and simple hanging feeders are available from most garden centres. These feeders contribute to the biological diversity of outdoor spaces and are an great way for bird watchers to boost material for their notebooks.
  5. Getting involved with communal gardening. Those who no longer wish to hold sole responsibility for the upkeep of a large garden but would still like to retain some level of gardening expertise, such as laying turf or growing deeper rooting plants are encouraged to get involved with the gardening of communal spaces at Anchor’s retirement housing developments and villages. At both Hampshire Lakes and Bishopstoke Park garden tools can be kept in the ‘village shed’ meaning residents can prune and dig with their own tools without having to give up storage space in their apartment.

John Hall is General Manager at Anchor’s Denham Garden Village in Buckinghamshire.

View all