How To Garden With a Disability

From keeping people fit and active to providing a therapeutic environment where people can de-stress, gardening provides a whole host of benefits for everyone. 

Enhancing both physical and mental health, the brilliance of gardening or landscaping is that it’s universal, and people of all ages, skills and walks of life can take part.

For those living with a disability, certain gardening tasks can be more difficult but the benefits are endless, helping with strength, relaxation and a place to make friends. 

If you’re disabled or have a garden that is used by disabled people, the team here at R & J Landscapes (London) has put together a handy guide that outlines how to garden with a disability.         

The benefits of gardening for disabled people 

While gardening and landscaping bring a plethora of benefits to all involved, they can have particular advantages for disabled people. The main benefit is that gardening provides a fantastic way to keep fit in a low impact way. Many gardening tasks can enhance upper body strength, help with mental wellbeing and build confidence through learning new skills.

As well as this, local gardening groups offer a great way to meet new people, improve communication skills and engage with the local community. 

Make gardens accessible 

Now we’ve explored some of the benefits that gardening can bring, let’s take a look at how to make it more straightforward for disabled people to engage with.

Disability is a wide-reaching term that encompasses a variety of physical and mental conditions, so it’s important to make your garden space accessible for all if a disabled person is going to be using it. 

For those with mobility issues, it’s important to have a suitable path or walkway that wheelchairs and walkers can be used on. Usually, you won’t have to make wholesale changes to accommodate these, however, any steps should be converted into slopes and paths should be at least three feet wide.   

Mud, gravel and bark can all prove tricky for those in wheelchairs, so block paving or artificial turf are safer options for pathways. 

Also, using raised garden beds, window boxes and containers makes it much easier for disabled people in wheelchairs to carry out their garden tasks. This way they will not have to consistently bend down to tend to the garden.  

Adapt gardening equipment 

Sticking with the accessibility theme, you should also consider the difficulties disabled people often have using garden equipment. Using gardening tools can be strenuous, but there are a number of ways that they can be adapted so that disabled people will find it easier. 

For instance, wrapping tape or foam around the tool’s handles can make them easier to grip, and adding arm supports and cuffs on long reach tools such as shears, shovels and trowels will reduce strain to the arms and wrists. In general, there are plenty of lightweight tools out there that are easier to use for disabled people. 

If you know that someone with a visual impairment is going to be working in the garden, then it’s a good idea to go with tools that are brightly coloured and won’t be camouflaged by the plants and vegetation. This way you can be sure that no one will be accidentally injured on the sharp edge of a tool during gardening. 

For all equipment, work with the disabled person who is going to be using them. Everyone is different and will have unique requirements, so by getting their input, and with a bit of trial and error, you should be able to adapt all gardening equipment in a way that makes it easier for the individual.  

Choose plants that can be easily maintained  

One of the biggest joys of gardening is growing something new. Whether it’s a beautiful flower or delicious vegetables, it’s always extremely rewarding seeing something transform from a small seed into a fully grown plant. 

You can cater the type of plants you want to grow to the disabled person, making the process much easier. For example, if pruning the plant is going to be tricky, you can set up panels that will contain vine plants such as jasmine, honeysuckle or tomatoes. 

Similarly, if you’d like something low maintenance, then lavender, rosemary and bergenia are the way to go.  

There’s also plenty of sensory options out there, too: succulents and snapdragons are great to touch; lavender, mint and pelargoniums smell great; and basil, strawberries and carrots are among the tastiest things you can grow. 

Working across Watford & Harrow the R & J Landscapes (London) team has over 30 years of experience in creating dream gardens for people of all requirements. Taking a tailored approach to each and every project, we can take your specific circumstances into account before crafting a garden you can be proud of. Our range of extensive garden services are always carried out to the highest possible standard, and to find out more contact our team today.