Skip to content

Gardening Boxes Are Great for Grown-Ups

Standing raised-bed gardens are a practical solution for the dirt-averse and anyone with aching knees

An example of a raised bed garden

Photo by Team Better Block

The placemaking firm Team Better Block built standing raised-bed gardening boxes, including this one, for a project in the Fruit Belt neighborhood of Buffalo, New York.

We’ve been noticing the trend for a while now, but it was confirmed to us during the inaugural year (2017) of the AARP Community Challenge, our “quick action” grant program (see page 128). So many of the applicants were seeking funds for creating raised-bed gardens.

As cleverly stated by the editors of Popular Mechanics, “raised garden beds take the hassle out of horticulture.” By raising the soil level off the ground, such gardening structures “reduce the back-bending effort needed for jobs such as planting, weeding and harvesting.”

Among the raised-bed-seeking applicants AARP did assist were those from the Broad Street Community Garden in Hartford, Connecticut, and the town of Bowdoinham, Maine.

In Connecticut, staff and volunteers from a nonprofit called Knox built raised garden beds that children, people with disabilities and older adults can access while sitting or standing.

In Maine, the municipal government was able to provide elevated garden beds, complete with soil, to six residents in Bowdoinham, Richmond and Bowdoin who, because of disabilities, could not maintain ground-level gardens.

The need for the garden beds became apparent during a 2016 community survey, explains Patricia Oh, an AARP consultant and the former adult services coordinator for Bowdoinham.

“We learned that many people give up gardening because they have a physical disability that prevents them from keeping a traditional, on-the-ground garden,” says Oh. “In our community, gardening is more than a hobby. Gardening indicates that a person is productive, self-sufficient and capable of continuing desired pursuits.”

TAKE A LOOK: The placemaking and urban designers of Team Better Block frequently partner with AARP, as they did for a community project in Buffalo, New York, which included building several raised bed gardens (shown above). Learn more about the Fruit Belt neighborhood demonstration by watching this AARP video.

This article is an excerpt from the "Support Health and Wellness" chapter of the AARP book Where We Live: Communities for All Ages — 100+ Inspiring Examples From America’s Community Leaders. Download or order your free copy.

Book published June 2018 

The weekly, award-winning AARP Livable Communities e-Newsletter provides local leaders with information and inspiration for making their town, city or neighborhood more livable for older adults and people of all agesSubscribe today!

Our Free Publications!

See the complete list at

Follow Us

Contact Us

  • Email AARP Livable Communities at

  • Ask about the AARP Livability Index by completing this online form.

  • AARP Members: For questions about your benefits, AARP The Magazine or the AARP Bulletin, visit the AARP Contact Us page or call 1-888-OUR-AARP (1-888-687-2277).