JoAnne Skelly: Learn to be a gardener for life

I recently wrote I couldn’t imagine my life without being able to work in our yard. I also mentioned University of Nevada Cooperative Extension would be holding classes for the maturing gardener. Our workshop series “Gardening Smarter as We Mature” will begin March 11 and continue on April 8 and May 14 from 10 a.m. to noon at local Cooperative Extension offices.

About 65 percent of the American population participates in some form of gardening. Many of my fellow gardeners are aging as I am and finding garden tasks more challenging physically. However, we can stay more physically active and healthier by continuing to garden.

Fortunately for us, Cooperative Extension’s specialist in exercise physiology, Anne Lindsay, will teach us to garden smarter to reduce injuries and strain. She will guide us in ways to lift properly, preserve our joints and strengthen our core. She will cover how we gardeners can adjust and work with the physical changes in our bodies to stay healthy and active doing something we like to do.

Lindsay’s presentations will introduce biomechanics, the mechanical movements the body makes to accomplish activities. She will look at proper body positioning and joint alignment to minimize risks. She will provide exercises to improve balance, coordination and muscle strengthening. We will examine the proper use of force and using the correct part of the body to accomplish specific tasks. For example, I wasn’t aware that keeping my arms lower with my elbows close to the body would maximize strength and avoid strain. By understanding biomechanics, we can move better and stay active longer.

In addition to Lindsay’s expertise, Dr. Angela O’Callaghan, social horticulture specialist, will present on practical gardening applications using biomechanics. She is an expert on raised bed gardening. She will also talk about how to simplify our gardening life by setting priorities, eliminating time and energy wasting activities and designing with plants that need the least amount of maintenance.

The series will be presented across Nevada via interactive video, including at Carson City, Douglas and Lyon counties’ Extension classrooms. While the classes are free, reservations are required and, ideally, you should attend all three classes in the series to gain the most benefit. Please call me at 775-887-2252 to attend in Carson City, 775-782-9960 for Douglas and 775-463-6541 for Lyon.

If you are like me, you want to garden for the rest of your life. Join us and learn valuable techniques to help you accomplish that goal.

JoAnne Skelly is the Carson City/Storey County Extension educator for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and may be reached at or 775-887-2252.


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