The Enabled Garden

Our Garden Gang's
The Enabled Garden

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If a family member or friend has a hard time getting about and working in a traditional garden, you can help by designing one that's easier for them to enjoy.  It has the benefit of being easier to tend, and a whole lot kinder to your aching back and knees, too!

Select an easily-accessible site for the garden and/or flower beds. The closer it is to the house exits and entrances, the more often it will be visited.

Garden paths should level or slope no more than one in in every 12 inches, and will have to be paved for wheelchair use.  A non-slip surface will reduce the chance of accidents.  Porous concrete will eliminate standing water and algae build-up on concrete paths, but it's quite expensive.  On traditional concrete, roughen the surface with a stiff broom before it sets.  Avoid sharp turns and narrow spaces that make access difficult.

raisedbed_trellis.gif (200x135 -- 14137 bytes)Build the beds in raised gardens so the gardener can reach the center comfortably without stretching. Be sure that pathways are wide enough for easy passage and are made of material that allows access even after the rain.  Trimming the top edges of narrow wood or metal-edged raised beds with plastic drain pipe or even old garden hose makes leaning against them more comfortable.  Slit the pipe or hose lengthwise, pry open the slit and push down over the tops of the raised bed edging.  With metal brackets, you can also add removable trellises to the sides of raised beds to support climbing plants.

Install hanging plants with readily available pulley devices that allow the pot to be lowered for watering and tending, or just to enjoy.

A convenient water source is critical.  Dragging hoses around the garden may be the hardest and most frustrating aspect of keeping the garden beautiful.  Long hoses curling over the pathways make it hard to move around, not to mention, are also a hazard.

Drip irrigation systems or soaker hoses eliminate most of the work.  Or you could have plenty of water outlets installed and use short hoses.  Lever faucets are easier to turn on and off than other types.

disabledwomaningarden.jpg (180x121 -- 5216 bytes)Hose-end shutoff valves stop water loss and resulting slippery areas while hoses are being moved.  In addition, long-handled water wands are also a tremendous convenience for garden work regardless of how spry you are!

Store all tools and supplies where they're easy to collect on the way to the garden, or even better, include a small storage area right in the garden.  Small hand tools, a bit of fertilizer and similar supplies fit easily in a large rural route mailbox that can be mounted on a post or fence.

A carpenter's apron can also come in handy for holding a gardener's tools.  If the gardener is wheelchair bound, a handy organizational pouch with a Velcro strap to attach to the chair is a great help.

Finally, don't forget a comfortable sitting area.  Family, friends and gardeners appreciate a place to take a break and enjoy the results of their hard work.

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