How to Create a Garden That is Disability Friendly
Published: 2010-10-08 : (Rev. 2017-12-24)
Synopsis and Key Points:
If you are planning a garden you need to ensure that it is accessible to everyone whether they are on foot or in a wheelchair.
Many people underestimate how soothing an outdoor space can be to someone who is disabled or elderly.
A garden can be an excellent outdoor space for any person for somebody to experience sights, sounds and smells that they would otherwise not be able to enjoy. A larger number of public spaces and gardens are now being landscaped so that they can be enjoyed by people regardless of their health or level of mobility. Here are a few suggestions about how to create an outdoor environment that can be enjoyed by everyone.
If you are planning a garden you need to ensure that it is accessible to everyone whether they are on foot or in a chair. Cleared pathways can make it much easier for people to move around a garden. If your pathways will be used by people who are wheelchair-bound, ensure that you make the paths wider than normal, to accommodate them. Try to avoid sudden changes in elevation that may require a steeper area or steps. These areas can prevent access to someone who is using a chair or walker and may also be hazardous for individuals with vision impairment. A path that is made out of a hard surface such as pavers or flagstones will also be much easier for someone in a chair to navigate.
Also think about what you want to plant in in your garden. A garden is not just about beautiful plants. You should ensure that your garden space has something that will appeal to everyone. Some good options are water features that allow the sound of running water to fill a space and plants that have a strong aroma. As we age, we begin to lose the sense of smell so plants with less perfume may be lost on some visitors, but beneficial to others. Bright colors can also help to attract the attention of individuals who may have some vision loss but who may not be completely blind. Statuary and sculptures can be excellent in any space as well. If you do not want to worry about the upkeep and maintenance of a pond, consider using a fountain that is free standing or mounted on the wall of an adjoining building.
Seating can be a fantastic feature to use in a garden. Benches, Chairs, and other forms of seating can allow people to stop and enjoy a beautiful scene or allow them to rest, if the garden is big. Ensure that any seating is well spaced and comfortable. Seating should be very stable so that if someone with mobility issues is trying to stand up they do not need to worry about knocking the seating over.
Another great idea for gardens is to use raised beds which bring the plants up closer to the level of the people who will be looking at them. This allows people who have back problems or have limited flexibility to enjoy the flowers at a much closer level. It can be a great idea to have raised beds near seating areas so that the people can simply stop and look at the beds while they are sitting, as well.
Gardens can be wonderful places for people of all ages. By putting some thought into the layout of your next garden, it can become much more accessible to people no matter the disability.
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