Outdoor gardening can be difficult or impossible for people with limited mobility, especially those who use equipment such as walkers or wheelchairs. The bending, kneeling and reaching which is inherent in caring for a garden are often beyond the ability of those with severe arthritis or orthopedic and neurological disabilities. Raised bed gardening can bring the joy of gardening to those who have been relegated to virtual gardening in the past.
Solving Common Problems
Raised bed gardening is a technique where the gardener installs large containers in the garden area, which are then filled with soil and used for flower, vegetable or herb gardening. It is very much like window box gardening, but on a larger scale. The raised beds can be as large as the space and ability to reach the entire interior of the box allows.
Raised bed gardening is well suited to small space gardening, as beds can be installed at varying heights to add visual interest to a confined area such as a patio or courtyard. It is also used to advantage in areas where drainage is poor. An area where water pools naturally in your yard is a natural location for a raised bed. The raised bed will allow you to have plantings in areas that have previously been challenges due to standing water.
Solving Uncommon Problems
Unlike traditional gardening in the ground, raised bed gardening allows you to bring the garden to your own height. Raised bed gardening installations for mobility impaired persons should use universal design guidelines to determine heights and other dimensions. A slight overhang can even be placed on the beds to allow wheelchair users to pull up closer.
If the bed is not being built for a wheelchair user, the raised bed can be built with an edge sturdy enough and wide enough to be used as seating for persons who can walk but are not able to stand while gardening. Pathways should be smooth and wide on all accessible sides of the bed, and access from the house to the beds should be included as part of the design and installation work.
Don’t forget to consider water supply when planning the beds. Hoses and spigots should be placed as close to the beds as practicable, and at heights easily accessible by the gardener. Extensions can be placed on inaccessible spigots, and be sure to try out handles so that you find one that can be easily turned.
The raised beds can be installed by friends and family, or a professional landscape company can be hired. However, once the new beds are up and running, a well designed bed can be entirely maintained by a mobility impaired person.