For those of us that love gardening, I suspect that we have a nice pathway or footpath leading into our gardens, so that it’s relatively easy to gain access. From time to time we may have to drive a wheelbarrow, lawnmower, tiller or perhaps other gardening accessories, so it’s really important that we have safe and easy access for this purpose. In the cases where we have people who are wheelchair or scooter dependent, then a safe and sturdy pathway is crucial to these people, for gaining entry and also exiting their gardens. Wheelchair accessible raised garden beds is something that we will look at today, how easy they are to construct and also, how easy it is to make gardens in general, wheelchair accessible.
Although gardening by it’s nature require a lot of stooping, bending and stretching in order to maintain and look after a garden. For wheelchair users, this workload need not be necessary, if we take certain steps and measures, to prevent a lot of the manual labor. This task is easily achievable if we implement some important steps in the immediate area leading into and around the general space of our backyard or backgarden.
Make a wheelchair pathway;
The first and most important task for this exercise is an accessible pathway leading to the garden. This needs to be at least three feet wide, it’s got to be level or almost level and the pathway has to be sturdy and solid underfoot. Concrete, tarmacadam or paver slabs would be ideal for this exercise, while gravel or stone chips would not be that suitable. However, if budget constraints did’nt allow for the primary options for this project, gravel of stone chippings would be ok in the short term. Laying down this material would make a great walkway for us healthy gardeners, however, if we could get this surface leveled with a surface plate vibrator, this would after some time, transform itself into a generous and functional pathway for wheelchair and scooter users. Cost wise, it would only amount to one tenth of the original concrete or tarmac budget option, so therefore it would make financial sense to look at this idea, without doubt.
Create raised garden beds;
The idea of having raised garden beds for our growing purposes will greatly enhance our gardening experience, not only for ordinary gardeners but also for those of us in wheelchair, scooter or mobility frames. We eliminate the need to stoop, bend or stretch, thus making life in our garden, more enjoyable and more pleasurable whilst attending to our vegetables, flowers or plants. Standard raised beds may suffice in some cases, however, we can go a step further and construct specially modified and designed elevated garden beds that would raise the soil levels to 2-3ft, whereby gardening would become much more manageable at these heights.
Standard raised garden beds are available for purchase online, they are relatively inexpensive and easy to make, but for the elevated version of these, unfortunately not many are available, either online or at our local garden centres. We can get tall or elevated planters ( see image on the right ) but these only cater for small volumes of planting, but however, they may suit some people. My advise would be to hire a carpenter or local contractor, tell them what we would like for in a raised bed, which would suit our needs and they would easily create one of these bed frames. They could construct a modified raised bed, that would be easily accessible from all sides, just like the above image, where one could roll in under the raised bed and work away to their heart’s content.
Plant low-maintenance veggies;
What we plant in our modified raised beds would contribute greatly to the enjoyment that we could experience in our easily accessible, wheelchair friendly back gardens. What we mean by this is, plant vegetables that are easy to grow and require very little maintenance. We would be talking about onions, spring onions, lettuces, certain brassicas and cabbages, carrots, beets and so on. I would advise against peas, runner beans, cucumbers and say tomatoes and those such varieties, as they may need staking and supports like trellis etc etc.
If its only flowers or plants we are thinking of growing, there are numerous varieties that are so easy to grow, require very little work or maintenance and can provide a great floral display of blossoms and bloom throughout the summer months and further on into the fall. Some of these would be marigolds, cana lillies, rosemary, thyme and other types, perhaps maybe some herbs and so on. Mulching our raised beds would reduce the need to water and would also conserve the moisture within the soil.
Locate the raised beds near a water source;
The issue of watering and irrigaion for our raised beds would also be of critical importance. This is a task that we do not want to over burden ourselves with and if properly planned, we could have a water source close by our raised beds for convenience purposes. There are fantastic rectractable gardening watering hoses available for this purpose, which just attach to an outside tap and are very easy to manage. They come in many different shapes, sizes and lengths and are ideal for the purpose of wheelchair accessible gardens and modified raised beds. From a health and safety aspect, they are ideal and are reasonnably priced also. We can source these at most garden centres, hardware stores or failing that are always available for purchase online.
With some creative planning and proper preperation, wheelchair accessible raised garden beds can be very easily created. For those of us that love gardening and may be restricted by some mobility issues, that should not stop us from doing something that we like, especially gardening. All or most garden centres and nurseries are wheelchair and scooter accomodating nowadays, as they have realised that there are a lot of wheelchair gardeners living in our midst and in our communities.
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