Accessible Gardens

A while back, I wrote a post featuring 8 gardening tools designed to simplify gardening for individuals of all abilities.  Now that the weather is so bright and warm, I just felt the need to explore the world of accessible gardening again!  Unlike my previous post which solely discussed tools to simplify gardening, this post will go into further detail on how to make your actual garden more accessible!

Before exploring several ways to create an accessible garden, let’s revisit the 8 tools I discussed before that can benefit individuals of all abilities.

8 gardening tools to simplify gardening:

1. Deluxe Tractor Scoot:

The Deluxe Tractor Scoot is ideal for individuals who have back problems or struggle getting low.  The Scoot by The Gardener’s Supply allows individuals to work from a seated position thus easing their back and knees.  The newer deluxe version is made more comfortable and easier to use featuring a longer handle allowing users to pull it like a wagon.  Once the handle is retracted, it locks in an upright position to serve as a sturdy handhold.  The heavy-duty Scoot includes pneumatic tires and a swiveling, height-adjustable seat.  It also features a basket to hold plants in, and beneath the seat is a tray where tools can be stored conveniently.

2. Ergonomic Trowel:

Gardening often strains an individual’s wrists and hands, ultimately causing fatigue and stress.  The Radius Hand Trowel features a comfortable, ergonomic hand grip to offer more leverage; it also includes an aluminum blade that is both strong and very light.

3. Ergonomic Cultivator:

The ergonomic cultivator is similar to the trowel above with similar ergonomic handle to reduce the strain on one’s wrists.  It is a precision tool that helps work in tight areas.  It is also very light and incredibly strong making it easier to pull and push as needed.

4. Collapsible Garden Bucket:

Garden buckets are used for holding clippings while walking around the garden; they may also be used to hold pulled weeds, soil, fertilizers, plants, or tools.  In order to make gardening easier, garden buckets should be light and durable.  If you are an avid gardener, a collapsible bucket may be ideal.  It is light, durable, and can be collapsed for easier storage.

5. Long Weed Grabber:

Pulling weeds is tedious and straining for individuals both with or without disabilities.  Fortunately, there are several handy tools such as the Fiskars Uproot Weed Remover to simplify this task.  Its 40″ long handle makes weeding easier for anyone who has trouble bending over or kneeling.  It features a lightweight, aluminum shaft and an easy-eject mechanism on the handle, eliminating any need for bending over.

6. Rake with adjustable tines:

Rakes come in handy for all sorts of things like grading soil for seed beds and planting, or lifting and clearing debris from lawns and more.  The standard leaf rake has a wide head perfect for clearing leaves from the lawn, but its large fan of tines doesn’t help in smaller areas.  A rake with adjustable tines can accomplish several lawn tasks, from raking leaves to leveling smaller plant beds.

7. Extendable Handle Lopper:

Yet another tedious task includes cutting down branches.  Oftentimes the branches are too high making them unattainable without the use of a ladder (which is obviously a bad idea for someone with a disability.)  Extendable loppers, such as the Fiskars Extendable Handles Bypass Lopper, offer an extension between 24.5 to 37 inches, making those unreachable places, reachable.  This particular lopper offers a twist-lock mechanism making it easy to lock the blades while reaching.  It also features cushioned grips making it easier to hold, and a shock-absorbing bumper for a more comfortable grip.

8.  Bright Duct Tape:

Duct tape is an affordable tool with a myriad of possibilities.  Further, bright duct tape is especially useful for individuals with low-vision who love to garden.  Oftentimes gardening tools can blend in on the ground making them hard to find, becoming a potential hazard for stepping and more.  A simple solution for this problem involves wrapping the handle of a tool with fluorescent duct tape.

Ideas for Accessible Gardens:

There are several ways to make gardens more accessible.  For example, there are container gardens as well as elevated garden beds.  Keep on reading to learn more about the different raised bed gardening options available for purchase as well as a tutorial on how to construct your own!

1. Accessible Gardens™

When researching accessible gardens, the first item to pop up was Accessible Gardens™, a site dedicated to making gardening easier for everyone!

“Our Mission…is to enable every individual with a physical disability or limitation to enjoy the mental, physical, social and spiritual benefits of gardening.”

The founder of Accessible Gardens™, Raymond LaRocque, stated: “I could no longer reach down to my garden so I brought the garden up to me!”  The website offers several different styles of raised gardens.  The traditional raised garden bed is often contained within a walled perimeter built on ground level.  The Accessible Gardens™ raised garden bed is “elevated to table height, with ample clearance for wheelchairs or walkers.  It puts the entire garden within arm’s reach with no kneeling or bending required.”  If you want ideas on how to create your own raised garden, this site is for you!

Click here for more information or to request pricing for Accessible Gardens™.

2. Naturalyards

Naturalyards is a family-and-worker-owned-business that manufactures “durable cedar raised beds, planter boxes, garden trellises and other wood products for home gardens, school gardens, community gardens and urban farms.”  The company also helps with garden layout, product selection, irrigation and soil recommendations, installation advice, and basic gardening how-tos.

Raised bed gardening not only benefits individuals with disabilities, but it also offers many benefits such as improved soil, higher yields, longer growing seasons, and better pest control.  Better yet, they can also be installed almost anywhere!

Regarding accessibility, the company recommends purchasing the hexagon or octagon raised beds to create easy pathways for wheelbarrow and wheelchair access.  “Pathways around raised beds should be 36 to 48 inches wide for wheelbarrow and wheelchair access.”

If you’re looking for an affordable, raised gardening bed kit, Naturalyards likely has the solution for you!

Click here to learn more about the different raised beds by Naturalyards.

3. How To Build Your Own Raised Garden Bed!

If you want to construct your very own raised garden bed, Better Homes and Gardens offers a step-by-step tutorial on how to do so!

STEP 1: MARK IT OFF

Determine how big you want your raised bed to be.  “If you’re not sure, start with a 4×4-foot square, a distance most people can reach the middle from both sides of.  Then rake and level the ground so that your raised bed will lie flat.”

STEP 2: CREATE WALLS

  • Start with:
    • Four: 1-foot-long 4x4s for the corner posts
    • Eight: 4-foot-long 2x6s for side rails
    • Four: 2-foot-long 2x2s for center stakes
  • Position 4x4s on each corner of your square, THEN pick a wall to start with and screw your first 2×6 to connect the  corners.  Stack a second 2×6 on top of the first.  The ends of the 2×6 boards should be even with the sides of the post.
    • NOTE: Use an angle-square to make sure the rails and posts are lined up at right angles!

STEP 3: CONNECT WALLS

  • Stand the sidewalls upright and opposite each other, with the posts on the outside.
  • Screw the two side rails to the posts to form the other walls of the raised bed.

STEP 4: MEASURE

  • Measure diagonally both directions across the planter bed to make sure the frame is square.  Adjust the raised bed until both diagonals are equal in length.

STEP 5: MAKE IT STURDY

  • Take the 2×2 stake and place it at the middle point of one of the outside walls.
    • Dig or pound it into the ground so the top of the stake is level with the top of the side rails
  • Fasten stake to the side rails with deck screws.
  • Repeat with each of the 3 remaining walls.