Many established gardeners feel that they must give up gardening as they grow older. Additionally, many younger people with disabilities have never even considered gardening as a hobby or past-time because they are afraid it might be too difficult or strenuous. The fact of the matter is, gardening is an excellent hobby for people of all ages and all ability levels. Read on to learn how to design a garden that will keep seniors gardening well into the golden years while piquing the interest of people with physical disabilities.
When designing a garden for seniors or people with disabilities, you must be sensitive to the specific needs of the prospective gardeners. Seniors who have had gardening experience and perhaps have an existing garden will react better to small changes that simply make the chores of gardening easier. Automating functions such as watering, adding shady trellises or and resting benches and making sure pathways are smooth and easy to navigate are the types of simple, practical modifications that can make an existing garden an ongoing source of exercise and enjoyment for seniors.
Gardens designed for new senior gardeners and gardeners with disabilities can take advantage of all the bells and whistles of adaptive design without making the users of the garden feel their world has been turned upside down. When designing an all new accessible garden, you will want to include wide, smooth paths for wheelchairs and walkers. Three feet wide is standard, and be sure to choose a surfacing material that is non-slip. Provide raised bed gardens one to two feet high for easy access, automated watering options, accessible work and break areas with wheelchair accessible tables and so on.
Whether designing and planning a garden for seniors or people with disabilities, you will want to gather a good collection of accessible gardening tools. A quick online search will yield good results in specially made tools for people of all levels of ability. You can also learn how to adapt garden tools for easy and secure grip by using materials such as insulation foam, bicycle handlebar grips and other innovations to build up the handles of tools making them easier to hold and use. Remember that lighter weight tools are generally easier to manage. A wrist loop on each tool will help prevent dropping. Keep a good supply of protective equipment such as knee pads and padded garden gloves on hand to make gardening more comfortable.
To encourage enthusiastic participation, be sure senior gardeners and gardeners with disabilities have plenty of input into the gardening process. The gardeners must be able to choose plants and then be allowed to actually do the work necessary to plant them. That’s the fun of gardening!
Gardening is a therapeutic, relaxing, enjoyable activity that can be enjoyed by one and all. It is a great way for whole families, church groups, clubs and recovery groups to establish an enjoyable, useful shared activity. When you take the time and necessary steps to plan an accessible garden setting that is pleasant, safe and usable by all participants great things can grow and prosper. Follow the tips presented here to begin planning your easy access garden.