While Steve and I don't have actual physical limitations, as we age it has become a bit more tiring to keep bent over or squatting for any length of time. Steve does have some arthritis in his back and hands so it can be quite daunting for him. I found this enclosed (as we have deer) raised bed garden for us. (email me if you want the link to the company) It is wonderful and Steve has taken over the plantings. As you can see, we also have artichokes, rhubarb and potatoes in grow bags in the front.
But, now let's talk about how to make gardening easier for those with more serious disabilities, whether they have severe arthritis, are in a wheelchair or are visually impaired.
Maybe you or someone in your household has difficulty getting around in the garden. These steps can be taken to make it more enjoyable for them.
- Gardening in raised beds and planters. It makes the plants much more accessible to reach. About a 2-3 foot wide raised bed area (wider if access is on both sides) should work for most people and its height should be according to the person gardening in it. For example: a person in a wheelchair would want the height anywhere from 18 to 24 inches tall, while someone with arthritis may want to garden standing and could use a height in the 3 to 4 foot range.
- Use lots of pots or other containers such as window boxes low to the ground. To help reduce the weight, use Styrofoam peanuts in the bottom half of the containers and fill with soil. Anyone can plant everything from seeds, perennials, small shrubs to small trees in containers. For ease in moving the pots, use wheeled caddies which are available at most hardware stores.
- Garden up! Use trellises and other types of plant supporters.Locate hanging baskets at lower levels or on benches for easier reach.
- Walkways should be a minimum of 3 feet wide. Ramps should be out of a non-slippery material and a handrail maybe necessary. There are many possible surface materials for walkways. However, packed soil is one of the cheapest. Of course, it will be muddy during wet weather. Sandstone pavers and brick are also good options but will be more costly. Remember, wood will work, but will be slippery when wet.
- For those visually impaired, choose plants that offer bright colors, variety of textures and lots of fragrance. A wide assortment of perennials and herbs works wonders for the senses. Group large areas of plants according to colors for more impact, as those with only partial visual problems will be able to locate them easier.
- Use sound effectively. Add into the garden chimes, wind mills, fountains, and birdhouses to create soothing sounds.
- Who doesn't like a sandbox? It brings out the child in all of us. Take an old barrel or other container and fill with coarse sand. It will make a great exercise for arthritic hands (or even feet if the barrel is low enough) and a perfect playground for children with physical limitations.
For more articles on this type of gardening and the books I've used, click here to go to my blog page -> Blog Page