Though it may seem impossible, or at the very least quite difficult, to enjoy gardening if you have a physical disability, it most certainly isn’t. Many people with disabilities, especially those who use a wheelchair, walker or scooter, can successfully garden with a few adaptations and accommodations. By rethinking the structure of your garden, and obtaining special tools that make tending a garden easier, people with disabilities or seniors with limited mobility do not have to be denied the joy of gardening.
Adapting Gardens for People With Disabilities
MAKE MORE SPACE!
Typically, gardens have narrow pathways and are pretty packed with plants. Creating more space will instantly give better access to wheelchairs and other assistive devices used by the disabled. You should clip back trees and overgrown shrubs to help with this, and relocate mature, larger plants to another area. If you are starting a new garden, be sure to plan for wider pathways that throughout your garden so it’s easier for you to navigate to its center. Also, place plants a little farther apart than is typical so they have more room to grow and you have the room you need to weed and water.
Although it sounds like an overwhelming task, raising the garden beds will increase your accessibility to your plants. It is recommended that you raise them at least 18 inches, or up to a standard table height, which makes it much easier for those in a wheelchair to reach without having to bend. You can build your own boxes, or hire a company to build them for you. Remember to keep the beds narrow so you can comfortably reach all the way into the middle.
ADD KNEELERS AND SEATING
For people that don’t require wheelchairs or walkers, but can’t kneel or bend for long periods of time, kneelers next to ground level garden beds are a terrific solution. You can rest on the kneeler as you tend to your plants, and by installing a railing next to the kneeler, getting up when finished will be so much easier. Benches strategically placed in the midst of your garden will give the disabled a comfortable spot to rest, enjoy the garden’s beauty, or a good place to water without having to stand.
GET THE RIGHT TOOLS
Gardening tools that have been adapted specifically for the disabled, or older adults with limited hand strength, are available from a variety of companies. These tools can take enormous stress off the body, and make taking care of your garden easier and much more enjoyable. Specially made adaptive tools such as shovels, cultivators, clippers and other tools are made larger and longer than ordinary gardening tools, as well as with textured grips, and designed to be used while sitting rather than standing, that people with limited range of motion truly appreciate.
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