Gardening is the practice of growing and cultivating plants as part of horticulture. In gardens, ornamental plants are often grown for their flowers, foliage, or overall appearance; useful plants, such as root vegetables, leaf vegetables, fruits, and herbs, are grown for consumption, for use as dyes, or for medicinal or cosmetic use. Gardening is considered to be a relaxing hobby for many people.
Today with the aid of special adaptive tools nearly anyone with a disability can enjoy the benefits of indoor or outdoor gardening. Millions of people around the world have physical limitations and disabilities due to aging, injuries, or diseases. However that does not mean they can't still enjoy gardening, whether its flower gardening or starting a new vegetable patch in your back yard.
Gardening for people with disabilities or seniors with mobility impairments can be achieved with the use of special adapted tools that are designed for people to use in the sitting position. You don't always have to have raised beds to be a gardener. It is also possible for people with back problems and those paralyzed on one side to enjoy gardening from a non-bending position with the right tools.
Taking a person's health restrictions into consideration, gardens can be designed to enable even those who's activities are limited to a walker or wheelchair to enjoy the healing benefits of working in a garden, not to mention the added mental and emotional stimulation.
Planning an Accessible Garden
If you are planning a new garden be sure to include places to sit and shelter from the sun and the wind.
Bushes and trees provide structure and direct movement.
Maximize perennial plantings, annuals do take up more time.
Fill the garden with bright flowers.
Place herbs, lavender and other plants so that when brushed they will release their fragrance.
Provide a convenient source of water and use drip irrigation or soaker hoses wherever watering would be a difficult task.
Taking a little time to add mulch around plants will greatly reduce the amount of water needed, as well as time spent on weeding.
Garden paths should have a hard surface at least 3 feet wide to allow wheelchair access.
Raised beds should be around 2 feet tall for wheelchair users and to reduce bending for those with Arthritis or other pains.
Make sure that the center of each raised bed is easily reachable, so for wheelchair users, about 2 feet is an ideal reach, 2.5 feet for those who can stand. If your bed has pathways on both sides, you can double that depth.
Adaptive Gardening Tools
There are a variety of gardening tools that can be used and adapted for wheelchair users.
For those who can only use one hand, there are 'cut and hold' tools, which are available in various sizes for such things as light pruning and dead heading in difficult to reach areas, rose arches and pergolas and at the back of borders.
For those of you who can not get down to the soil level, there are tools specially manufactured for people with disabilities with handles that keep the hand and wrist in a neutral, stress-free position and provides a firmer grip on the tool.
Snap-on, twist or clip-on tool heads give extra length from the sitting position.
Long-handled shears especially for edging lawns are also ideal, as are the firm grip weed pullers.
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