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This guest post is written by Tim Smith.
There’s nothing like growing your own fresh vegetables. But having a disability does not mean the garden has to be off limits.
The normal growing season is coming to an end in the Northern Hemisphere. But if you or someone you know couldn’t get out in the garden this year because of being in a wheelchair, it’s not too early to start thinking about how to set things up for the coming growing season.
For someone in a wheelchair, gardening can be a great way to stay healthy, happy and motivated. Here are some simple tips and tricks.
Ideas for Wheelchair Gardening
- When setting up a garden, it’s important to make sure that it’s easy to access most plants by wheelchair. If a garden is on flat ground, this usually isn’t a problem. However, a garden on a slope or hill may require some modification for ease of access.
- If, however, you want to set up a garden on a sloped surface, a graduated walkway can be installed up the side of the slope, to ensure all parts are accessible. This pathway can cross back and forth, similar to a road going up a hill. With this design, a person in a wheelchair will be able to access all parts of his or her garden.
- It’s also important to make sure that plants can be easily pruned and maintained from a wheelchair. To ensure ease of access, it’s a good idea to choose plants that don’t require ladders, step stools or other aids to prune. Plants to avoid include lilacs, hydrangeas, bamboo and other species that grow to a significant height. At the same time, plants that are too low to the ground should also be avoided, as it’s likely not safe or comfortable for the person to work that low. Plants that do work well include most ground hedges, rose bushes, and plants that don’t grow to a height of more than three feet. That means flowers and most vegetables. Check out the nasturtiums, eggplant and tomatoes within easy reach in the elevated planter below
- If low-growing plants are desired, though, there are table-height raised garden beds available that would be the perfect height for wheelchair to tend to. These can be placed on a patio or deck for easy access. Another idea: Plant shorter plants in tall pots or pots that are placed on a stand or table.
- To reduce garden maintenance, it’s a good idea to have a professional watering system installed. A drip irrigation watering system with a timer can minimize the headache of irrigating a large garden. Since irrigating a garden may involve the use of a long hose, this can be a significant hassle for those in a wheelchair.
- If possible, grass should be avoided in a garden, unless someone else will be maintaining it. While a green, open space in a garden can be nice, these areas often require extensive maintenance. In addition to regular mowing, grass requires fertilizer and irrigation on a regular basis.
- For those with serious disabilities, it’s also a good idea to make sure that there is a safety system in the event of an emergency. An outdoor telephone or call system can be a great way to ensure that help is readily available if a disabled person experiences a fall or other accident.
If you or someone you know loves gardening but thought it would be impossible because of being in a wheelchair, think again. Every situation is different, but there are lots of possibilities for wheelchair gardening.
I’d love to hear solutions you have found. Please leave a comment below.
Here are some books you might find helpful:
Accessible Gardening: Tips and Techniques for Seniors & the Disabled
Accessible Gardening for People With Physical Disabilities: A Guide to Methods, Tools, and Plants
The Enabling Garden: Creating Barrier-Free Gardens for People with Disabilities & Older Adults
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