- Grove City, Pennsylvania


February 5, 2009

Don’t stop gardening; alter it to accommodate limitations


Depending on your resources, you could start from scratch and hire a professional landscape designer to design a new garden that meets the requirements you’ve outlined when you listed your needs and abilities. Keep in mind the distance you’re capable of traveling to and from the garden. If you use a wheelchair or cane, a paved pathway is definitely something you should include in your plans for the new garden. If you tire easily, consider locating the garden close to the house.

Paths for wheelchairs and scooters need to be at least 3 feet wide, with 5-foot wide areas for turning interspersed throughout. Remember the space you’ll need for maneuvering on patios where containers and outdoor furniture are arranged. If the ground slopes or rises, you’ll want to be aware of this and arrange for leveling, or decrease the slope enough so that it’s safe for wheelchairs and scooters.

If you have limited vision, you’ll want to have special markers in pathways so you’ll be aware of where you’re at. One way to do this is to install indicator strips in the path that alerts you to a known area. If your path is smooth, lay strips of a varying texture that can act as a sign, if you’ve a gravel path, lay down a section of particle board 18-inches wide or so.

Raised beds, vertical and container gardening can enable those with disabilities to more easily get their hands dirty by having things arranged at comfortable working heights. A soil level 2 feet high usually works best for those in wheelchairs or if you prefer sitting. Soil level heights between 24-41 inches is best if you want to garden standing up.

Vertical gardening techniques include the use of structures such as fences, walls, and roof overhangs to support plant containers at comfortable heights for the gardener whether seated or standing. Pulleys for hanging baskets will allow you to raise and lower your plants for easy access.

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