Welcome to Lifestyle

Your online destination for an active body and stimulated mind.


Top tips for a garden that’s small but beautifully farmed

July 13, 2022

It's one of life's little ironies that, when you retire and finally have time to spend gardening, you might not have the same energy levels to maintain a big garden anymore.


Many retirees are loath to the idea of abandoning gardening altogether, but are happy to find ways to indulge their green thumbs on a more manageable scale.

Moving to a home with a smaller garden, or with someone on site to help with the heavy jobs, can be the perfect solution.

Easy-care lifestyle, more time for the outdoors


When Peter and Diane Wilson chose their townhouse at Ryman's Charles Upham Retirement Village in Rangiora off the plans five years ago, it was largely because of its sunny garden.

Both had been keen gardeners from a young age, so they weren't ready to give up on their favourite hobby.

The easy-care nature of their new home means they have more time than ever to devote to the outdoors. Not only do they work in their own garden, but they also give other residents a hand, and help out the Ryman gardeners by caring for plants in the village's main entrance.

"Some days we're out in the gardens for five or six hours a day, others it might be just two or three," says Diane. "It doesn't feel like work when you enjoy it so much. I just love it here. I've been happy since day one."


Peter and Diane 00766 770x433px

Build your lifestyle around your passions


A garden was also a non-negotiable for Graham and Marion Tate, who chose their three-bedroom townhouse at Ryman's Diana Isaac Retirement Village in Christchurch because it was on a corner section surrounded by about 100 square metres of potential garden.

After nine years at the village, Graham and Marion are full of praise for the freedom Ryman gives them to pursue their gardening passion, along with the helping hand Ryman staff are happy to provide whenever they need it.

"Ryman's village gardeners have graciously tolerated our gardening independence," says Graham. "They have let us buy our own plant selection, ensuring we never lack colour around our home. At the same time, they are always willing to help by shifting heavy pots, pruning high branches and maintaining lawns as a verdant backdrop.

"From the comments of residents passing by our garden gives pleasure to many others in the village community," he says.


Peter and Diane 770x433px

Top tips for downsizing your garden:

  • Look for a garden that's small enough to be a delight, not a chore. You might find that a courtyard or patio is all you need to feel connected to nature. With some clever planting it's amazing how much food a balcony can produce, while also providing a pleasant space for relaxing.
  • For ease of care, use raised beds, planters and pots whenever possible – they're easier to access without bending or kneeling.
  • Outsource heavy landscaping jobs, such as trimming shrubs and mowing lawns.
  • Moving into a retirement village gives you the time and freedom to garden as much or as little as you like, and provides peace of mind that there'll be someone there to help out if your health or circumstances change.
  • When you're choosing a retirement village, let the village management know that you're interested in retaining a garden and ask them to clarify their policy around independent gardening.
  • Even if you're not much of a gardener, choose a village with attractive, well-kept grounds that you can enjoy without having to maintain them yourself.