Gardening is something people of all ages and abilities can get involved with, but not all gardens are accessible for all. Here at Nelson Potter, Suffolk, we have come up with some ideas on how to transform an outdoor space so that it can be enjoyed by the entire family. If you are looking for inspiration on garden design, or have a disability and want a few handy hints on how to make gardening easier, here are ten ways to make the most of your grounds. These include making the garden more accessible with raised beds and ramps and having the right tools to hand.
1. Getting the Right Tools
Having the correct tools for the job makes everything easier. If you have limited mobility, it would be helpful to research online what gardening tools are available and read the accompanying reviews. This will ensure you don’t purchase something that you can’t use as effectively or waste money on an unsuitable device. For example, you might want a gardening tool that has an adequate grip to suit your personal needs, or one made of a lighter material to make lifting easier.
Making your garden more accessible may involve spending extra money, but you may find the benefits outweigh the costs. Garden paths are best built wide and flat with smoother stone or concrete to avoid tips of falls, or, if you are a wheelchair user, wheels catching on uneven paths. If you have a terraced garden, you may want to improve accessibility with ramps, rather then steps. For those planning to redesign their garden to make it more user-friendly, it is worth keeping some of these things in mind when speaking to a landscaper, to avoid costly mistakes.
3. Flower Beds
Flower beds add colour and scent to a garden; however, they are not so accessible if you find it difficult to bend or kneel. Wooden planters are a fantastic alternative to ground level flower beds as they are much easier to reach and won’t cause aches or strains from bending down. Raised beds are especially useful for wheelchair users, as they are an ideal height to make planting and cultivating easier.
4. Sheds and Greenhouses
Greenhouses are a firm favourite among keen gardeners, but may not be quite so practical if you have a disability. To improve the practicality of your shed or greenhouse, try laying some matting or ramps down over the doorway so you can access it more easily without trip or catch hazards. Greenhouses often benefit from internal shelving, which eliminates the need to bend or stretch.
5. Clubs and Charities
There are numerous clubs and charities set up to aid those who find gardening difficult due to age, disability or injury. These groups allow you to talk to other members and share ideas and techniques that can make gardening more enjoyable. They can potentially offer grants and help with renovating a garden to make it more user-friendly, and have a close-knit and supportive community to make you feel as relaxed as possible in your garden.
6. Hedges and Trees
Cutting and trimming hedges and trees can be difficult at the best of times, especially when reaching high up is not easy. Reaching can be damaging and straining on muscles, so having the right tools for maintaining hedges and trees is essential. There are tools available that are easier to use with one hand. Shears that are one handed and extendable make trimming much easier, and lighter materials also make reaching higher hedges much less demanding.
7. Cutting Your Lawn
If you are a wheelchair user, try to have your lawn cut level with paths to avoid unnecessary turning and reversing. Automatic or robotic mowers are often expensive; however, they are a one-off purchase and don’t need much maintenance, and will cut your lawn for you without causing unnecessary strain on your muscles.
8. Watering Your Garden
Some watering cans and hoses can be awkward to use, so it’s best to pick a shape or design that’s easier to tip and hold. A flatter sided can with bigger handles will be easier than a rounded one for grip. You can reduce the need to water your garden by adding mulch to your beds which helps hold in moisture. You can choose plants that are suited to drier conditions to avoid unnecessary effort, and group plants together so you’re not having to move around the garden a lot with heavy watering cans. Another top tip is to place saucers under pots in the summer to help keep in that little bit of extra water.
9. Sowing Seeds
One of the most challenging parts of gardening is growing plants from seeds. When you’re sowing seeds, it’s helpful to use trays that are already modular to make planting seedlings more straightforward. If sowing seeds is proving impossible, due to issues such as arthritis or a weak grip, buying ready germinated plants individually and raising them from seedlings might be a better option.
10. Enjoy Yourself
Gardening is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby, so try to make sure you take regular breaks, and don’t strain or over-work yourself, especially if you are recovering from injury or illness. Don’t let gardening get on top of you – break it up into small amounts on a regular basis, or, if you feel it being too overwhelming, consider reducing the size of your outdoor space using patios or water features.
Click here to visit Nelson Potter to see our full range of raised beds and timber products.