Tips for designing an accessible garden | The Optimist Daily
Today’s Solutions: June 22, 2024

We’ve shared several articles touting the great and plentiful benefits of gardening; however, many gardens aren’t designed with accessibility in mind. This means that individuals with mobility issues or a form of disability will not be able to enjoy the space.

Here are a few tips on how you can create an accessible garden that meets everyone’s needs.

Linking the home and garden

The first step to designing an accessible outdoor space is to think about the areas that link to the garden. Consider fitting the intersections between the home and garden with patios, smooth decking, or a ramp, to create a smooth flow that can accommodate wheelchairs, walkers, or are just easier to navigate in general.

Sliding doors are also a good option to soften the boundaries between the indoor and outdoor spaces, and if you have a sprawling garden, then the addition of a pergola or other covered structure may offer accessible transitional spaces between garden areas.

Zoning the garden

“Zoning” your garden space means making sure that the places you like most about your garden are the ones that are closest to your home, and the ones that are visited less frequently are situated further away. This minimizes the travel time to the most popular spaces in your garden.

Accessible pathways

An accessible garden will have pathways that allow for free and easy movement. This means reducing the gradient of sloping areas, smoothing out uneven surfaces, creating wide pathways, and making sure that the pathways remain clear of debris.

The preferred surface for pathways will depend on who will be using the space most often, however, a compact path made with gravel, sand, or clay is a good option as it offers a permeable surface that lets water drain through.

Low maintenance spaces

If you are hoping to accommodate people who want to garden but have issues with mobility, then making low-maintenance spaces is especially important. This means creating a space where the gardening processes can be made as efficient as possible, however, this does not mean that you need to reduce the number of plant varieties.

In fact, it is often the case that more biodiverse ecosystems require less maintenance. Be mindful of including native plants as they will be the best adapted to the conditions in your area.

Raised beds

For gardens that include a space for growing crops, raised beds will help make the gardening process less strenuous by limiting the need for excessive bending and reaching.

It’s worth keeping in mind that raised garden boxes do not need to be rectangular in shape. You can customize your raised beds for your specific needs or the needs of the main gardener.

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