How to Create an Accessible Garden

Gardening appeals to all ages, from tiny tots to seniors, but as we age or our abilities change, some chores become increasingly difficult to manage. However, with the right tools, and some adjustments to the layout of your outdoor space, gardening can continue to bring joy for many years to those who love plunging their hands into the dirt. Here are some ways to create an accessible garden your family can enjoy together.

Walk this way

Walkways can be challenging barriers to your garden for mobility-impaired visitors and gardeners alike. Ideally, paths should be 36 inches wide, and while you don’t have to pave them, consider laying down crushed and compacted gravel, dirt or grass. Loose gravel can make navigating in a wheelchair or cane difficult. Also, check that gate latches are no higher than 48 inches from the ground.

Place benches in shady areas around your yard where you or your guests can rest.

Rise up

Gardeners with back problems or limited mobility will find it much easier to plant and maintain raised beds. Consider a u-shaped design if you use a wheelchair, so you can get up close and personal with your plants! Make borders about two feet wide for one-sided access or four feet wide if you can work from all sides.

Gardening at this level also comes with a bonus: fewer weeds! Hanging or freestanding planters, along with tabletop and vertical gardens or trellises are also helpful for people who can’t bend easily.

Pick perfect plants

Choose low-maintenance plants that require little effort – think deadheading or constant attention to remove pests. Hardy native plants work well in most gardens since they’re already accustomed to your area’s climate. Plant annuals that flower all season, so you don’t have to keep refreshing your beds. Opt for vegetables that will thrive in your garden without lots of attention. Or plant lots of groundcover to further reduce weeds. Be mindful of planting trees or shrubs that needs lots of pruning, and don’t bring in any invasive flowers that will require lots of work to control. Finally, cut down on lawn care by replacing huge patches of grass with a rock garden or water feature.

Rethink your go-to tools

In addition to choosing the right tool for the job, look for ergonomic options, such as extendable handles and ones that have rubberized grips for easy use. You can also adapt the hand tools you already have by adding new grips. Check out tools that feature angles that make tasks easier. Have a peek at your watering cans and hoses: if they’re cumbersome, consider installing a sprinkler system that takes the backbreaking task of watering out of your hands altogether!

How have you adapted your garden? Share your tips with us!


Garden with path: Photo Credit: 1 to One Garden Design Flickr via Compfight cc

Older man in beret gardening: Photo Credit: vic_burton Flickr via Compfight cc

Man In Straw Hat near raised flowerbeds

Photo Credit: UGA College of Ag & Environmental Sciences – OCCS Flickr via Compfight cc

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top