It is sometimes hard to get around in a wheelchair, and it is sometimes easy to forget just how difficult it really can be. The outside home environment, especially a beautiful and lush garden, is often not accessible for the handicapped.
This isn’t always the case, of course, with home gardens that have been adapted for wheelchair accessibility and the home gardener who uses a wheelchair. However, gardens can be difficult to navigate, and sometimes just the presence of steps, even a few small ones, can make it tough to get around.
Whether the handicapped gardener uses a wheelchair all the time or only has it for special occasions, they should have plenty of options to make their garden more accessible. This can require some redesign and customizing of the home’s garden, and also the purchase of equipment, such as a wheelchair-friendly mower, or raised garden beds.
Different Ways to Design a Wheelchair-Accessible Garden Bed
1. Parallel Approach
This approach is a good choice for someone who is comfortable using their wheelchair, and will not have assistance from a companion. This approach includes building a raised bed that is parallel to the ground, with one side higher than the other.
The shorter side of the bed can be used for flipping soil and gardening tools, and the taller side of the bed can be used for planting and harvesting. The gardener simply backs up to the bed and flips soil, or is able to easily access it by climbing over the short side of the bed.
2. Forward Approach
In this approach the wheelchair-accessible garden bed is built so the wheelchair is positioned in the front of the bed, facing the planting area. This allows the gardener to garden in a very close, comfortable position, with plenty of room to maneuver.
Key Factors to Remember for a Wheelchair-Accessible Raised Garden
1. The Raised Garden Bed Should be the Ideal Height and Width Relative to the Wheelchair
The garden bed itself should be the perfect height for a person in a wheelchair. This way, the gardener is at an ideal viewing and working position. Meanwhile, the ideal width of the garden bed depends upon the width of the wheelchair.
The gardener’s wheelchair should fit in the garden bed, with room to spare. This way, the gardener can easily maneuver within the garden bed.
2. It’s Best to Work Side-to-Side, Instead of a Frontal Position
A wheelchair-accessible garden bed should be positioned so the gardener can tend to plants on both sides of the bed. This way, the gardener is able to easily and quickly move around within the garden bed.
The Bottom Line: The Importance of Raised Garden Beds for Better Accessibility
The garden bed is also an ideal height for gardening, and it is made for maneuverability. One of the best reasons for choosing a garden bed is that it makes gardening in a wheelchair possible, rather than difficult.
Raised garden beds are also popular with the handicapped gardener because they are often easier to get into and out of. Even though they are higher than a garden bed that is not raised, they are still accessible, and there is less bending and squatting involved.
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