Making gardening accessible for everyone

Accommodations to allow for everyone to be involved in the garden.

This is the time of year that people start getting ready to plant their gardens. Making accessible plant beds for people in wheelchairs or other disabilities is not difficult and can prove to be therapeutic and rewarding.

A couple things to take into consideration when planning an accessible garden are the terrain and what kind of bed you want. Raised beds are the most common type of accessible garden. There are companies that have premade kits available; however, making your own is simple and many different materials can be used.  There are plans available online for beds made out of everything from brick to tires, depending on what you want. Size will come into play depending on what you are growing, and the ability of the person who will be working the bed.  According to Thrive, a UK charity designed to teach people with disabilities the benefits of gardening, the height for wheelchair-accessible beds is about 24 inches, and a width of about 20” wide if only being accessed by one side.  Another option is vertical gardening using a trellis systems or bags designed for horticultural use. A few examples can be found online. These systems can be large or small, again, depending on preference. Specialized gardening tools will make accessible gardening easier as well. Tools with extended handles are the most common, but there are others available including some with cuffs to increase the ergonomic aspects.

Pathways are also a vital aspect to be considered. There needs to be adequate space between beds for maneuverability, as well as a solid base to ensure wheels are able to move freely. Grass pavers allow for a solid surface which the grass will grow through, while maintaining aesthetics, but concrete and cement pavers are more durable, solid surfaces.

As always, each situation is unique and what works for one person, may not work for someone else. For more information contact Michigan AgrAbility at 989-227-6455.

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