Spring is in the air, and while we know it’s perfect weather to go shopping for wheelchair vans, it also means gardening season is about to begin! While gardening is a simple pleasure for many, the physical chores required to maintain a healthy garden can be very difficult for people with disabilities. However, thanks to various gardening modifications and alternatives, anyone can enjoy the benefits of tending their own garden!
Raised beds are a great gardening option for wheelchair users. Choose one that has a soil level 24”-36” from the ground, as this height allows seated gardeners to dig or plant without developing arm fatigue. If the bed is much taller, it causes difficulty for the gardener when lifting a hose, watering can or soil amendment high enough. Keep in mind that a 24” bed is best for those who are growing vegetables, since it’s easier to harvest the taller plants at the shorter height.
Be sure to situate your planter in an easily accessible location. What does this mean, you ask? Ideally, you’ll want the planter near a wide door with a low threshold, and in a location where you can access it from all sides. Since your plants will need at least six hours of full, unobstructed sunlight, you’ll also want to take that into consideration when deciding on a location for the planter.
Instead of working from a frontal position, seated gardeners find it easier to tend their garden beds if their wheelchair or seat is positioned sideways to the planter. Working frontwards becomes tiring because it requires a more extended reach. Working from the side offers you the option to switch sides for comfort and keeps your wheelchair in place while you work.
Keeping your gardening tools and supplies nearby allows you to tend to your garden more easily and efficiently. Hang your tools underneath the raised bed, where they’ll stay out of the rain but easily within reach. Keep sacks of soil and compost in a rubberized roller-tote beneath the bed as well, assuming there is enough space. However, the roller-totes usually have lids so that they can be left outside.
Use mulch beneath plants to reduce your overall garden maintenance and extend time between waterings. Mulch is great for helping soil retain its moisture and prevents weeds from sprouting. Reduce slug problems by watering your plants in the morning rather than later in the day. If you are looking for more ways to reduce your plants’ watering needs, consider small drip-irrigation systems, timers or soak hoses for your garden.
What kinds of things do you grow in your garden? Do you have any tips for our community? Please share your thoughts in a comment below!