Of Steep slopes with steps and rugged terrain, many gardens have dangers that can make them dangerous for people with reduced mobility. But, with small changes in layout and design, there are plenty of ways to create a safe space accessible to everyone.
“As a garden designer, I love the process of putting together ideas, developing concepts, creating planting plans and selecting materials to use,” says Mark Lane, gardening expert and The world of gardeners presenter.
“If you love gardening but your body starts to ache in areas that it has never hurt before or you need to use a walker, pole or wheelchair then this should be a wonderful pass. – Creative time can turn into a project nightmare. With a little planning you can create the outdoor space of your dreams. ‘
Gardens are meant to be enjoyed by all, so creating a place that you can enjoy properly is essential. Here are some tips to help you …
1. Get to know your body
When designing your garden, it’s important to create a space that will work for you. Things to consider include how far you can go, if you want to sit down, or if you might need a ramp to make your job easier.
“Understanding your own body is essential to making a garden work for you,” says Mark. ‘For example; If you cannot twist your body and need, or prefer, to sit down for gardening, a raised bed with flat sides is not advisable. Instead, opt for a raised table or feeder so you can put your knees below and work at a comfortable height without having to twist or turn around.
2. Decide on the style of garden you want
From traditional cottage gardens to colorfully lit wildlife-friendly spaces, decide what type of garden you want to design, plant and cultivate.
To help you get started, Mark suggests producing a moodboard: “Sometimes it can be the smallest detail of a handcrafted doorknob that you like – the shape, the craftsmanship or the material. This, in turn, might point you towards an arts and crafts style garden, for example. ‘
Why not grab your notebook and write down what you’re looking for …
3. Consider the materials you want to use
The choice of materials for your garden is important. When starting to decide how to rework your space, consider whether you want to go with materials like stone, gravel, wood, or porcelain tile. For those with physical limitations, opt for slabs to reduce risk or unevenness in the floor.
Mark adds: ‘Remember there are no rules other than yours. You might even like to mix materials and go for an eclectic look. ‘
4. Opt for raised beds and raised gardening
Gardening in raised beds is not only a great way to improve drainage and grow a wide range of plants, but it also provides access for wheelchair users as it lifts the garden to a manageable height.
Mark explains that you shouldn’t make raised beds “wider than 1.2m, especially if you can only access them from one side”.
He adds, “If you use treated softwood sleepers that sit on their longer flat edge, you can create a perching point all around the ground, so you can garden sitting down. If you are using bricks or cinder blocks, try aiming for a frame 8 to 12 inches wide, just large enough to perch on.
5. Take measurements of your space
As you design your dream garden, take measurements of your space (or have someone help you). See where the sun is rising and where the shadows are falling so you can determine exactly where to position patio furniture. Determine if there is a specific view you would like to see from your kitchen window, such as a pretty flower bed or birdbath, for example, and think about the size of your patio or paved space, making sure it is large enough for a table and chairs.
6. Create a path to the goal
When creating accessible and secure gardens for the elderly, wheelchair users or those with limited mobility, you will need to be smart when it comes to making a path. Make sure they are wide enough for wheelchairs, remembering that users will also need space to turn over at the end.
In addition to this, the paths should also have gradual and easy curves, instead of sharp turns – this will make it easier for people to navigate. It might also be worth adding handrails to steps and level changes for added stability.
Mark advises, “For the trail, consider paving slabs rather than gravel as the small stones are very difficult for wheelchair wheels to navigate. The paving must be pointed with a minimum gap of 10 mm. You want a firm, stable, non-slip surface. In some cases, anti-glare tiles are a good idea, especially for the visually impaired or blind. ‘
Additionally, enclosing your patio with secure railings is a practical measure to reduce the chance of tripping and causing injury.
7. Choose self-watering pots
Self-watering pots help keep the soil moist, even if you can’t water them regularly. If you have trouble reaching certain flowers – or if you don’t have time to water them – the easiest option is to buy a self-watering pot.
“You need an irrigation system (for example, a leaky hose or small irrigation pipes and nozzles that drip feed and feed your plants) as well as a water collection tank at the bottom. », Explains Mark.
It’s also worth getting your hands on a solar powered pump, which allows you to set a timer for watering your plants during the day.
8. Be inspired by the bricks or stone of neighboring properties
“Look at your home, and even neighboring properties or homes in the area, and then match their color to the materials you want to use,” suggests Mark. “Be a little curious and see what grows in the neighbors’ gardens; taking note of plants in a larger environment will help you choose your own greenery, which in turn will help wildlife.
And … 9. Make lighting a priority
David Hough of home improvement specialists, SMART Balustrades, says focusing on lighting around the garden will improve its accessibility for the darker days and nights.
“The patio can often be slippery when wet and hard structures can hurt when bumped, so it is recommended that you install lighting in this area,” says David. String lights and string lights are popular options for balcony and garden owners because they can be easily hung from surrounding structures. “
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