Enabled Accessible Gardening

Best thing I have found yet that's perfect for assisting the physically-challenged, or newly-physically challenged gardener to keep on gardening.... 
Elevated raised garden beds. Less tiring to manage. No bending or kneeling involved. Can be custom built to fit the gardener's needs.

I am not presently challenged physically. But i am planning on gardening, should that eventuality be in my future. I find elevated beds a blessing whether or not gardening is a challenge for many reasons, and i utilize them in several different designs and plantings. I've owned these for a number of years, and buy them as a new design pops into my head that i have no ground space for, and as my budget allows.

Several years ago, this option for those with physical disabilities wasn't readily available. A garden had to be custom designed for someone with special needs. Many gardeners quit gardening because they did not have easy access to this type of gardening aid, or could not afford to have gardens properly custom designed for their needs. They have a solid, but permeable planked bottom, covered in landscape fabric, and water-logging is eliminated.

Here are some garden plans for you to download in .pdf format. specifically for raised beds.
Just click the titles to download.

- plans from Williams and Sonoma

Raised garden beds are such a great addition to my garden, and they lessen the stress on my back and knees. Which is a blessing if you hardscape with rubber or wood mulch,  river rocks and gravel in your designs. Those with physical disabilities have an awesome method of gardening to enjoy that will make it not only possible to continue to garden, but keep on gardening. Picture it as the same garden as the one planted in the ground, except with more planted, because you're not doing rows, and more space saved on the ground to add containers and garden decor. 

I use several to add middle space to my landscaping. They're at home in many plans.... Container Gardens, Pollinator Gardens, small space Urban Gardens, Kitchen and Herb gardens, just to name a few. They're also a great way to use small solar water features as the central design, with plants around it. I find it a better way of gardening that allows me to spend more time gardening, and less time lying prone with an ice pack as a constant companion after digging and weeding chores. Vegetable gardens are more easily cared for and better harvested off the ground. A combination of vegetable and flower plants, and small solar water features is quite possible, and very pleasing to the eye. An elevated raised bed garden is beautiful in winter, if planted with evergreens and bird-friendly plants with winter berries. If i needed to utilize a wheelchair, i would have wood tiles around the boxes, about 3 ft. wide, and no stones.

They're not only a great alternative for those who may not be able to garden anymore, due to physical challenges. They also give you a huge amount of additional growing area.  Especially combined with vertical gardening with trellises. Most are made of weatherproof cedar. They age beautifully, or they can be stained with a food safe cedar sealing stain. Plants do very well, because of the lack of weeds, less insect damage, and the ability to take care of their needs easily. They are also filled with garden potting soil, or any soil that's probably better than what's in the ground. 

Most of mine are up against my white 6 ft.privacy fence panels. Allowing plants to be under in containers, and hanging in pots from the fence over the boxes. And allowing that fence panel itself to be decorated in the same theme as the box below it. My fence has a narrow lattice top design. So cool for hanging decorations and hanging pots on hooks. They take up much less of your landscape's walking area, because the plants will not be allowed to grow into that space. They can also outline a larger garden or line a path, if placed around the edges. The design and decorating potential is endless. A condensed planting is beautiful to look at. You can plant your main attraction in the middle, and grow trailing flowers and succulents as its floor, tumbling over the sides. Whether it's a flower garden, herb or vegetable garden, you will have a lot of possibilities and time spent outdoors and in your garden.

I use some of mine as part-time nurseries for flowering and herb plants to protect them from vermin and to add structural dimensiion. I do not like a single level garden. Rabbits decimated my strawberry patch this year. New plants are being grown in raised beds, where they are safe from nocturnal rodents and other nasties. As the babies grow and get strong enough, they will be placed in my in-ground garden beds with their elders. Another bonus is that these beds are easily added or used as replacements for planting areas in any  garden design.  The strawberry beds are very helpful.... I used to crawl around on the ground or bend for long periods of time to harvest them 

They come in various sizes, shapes and heights. Use outdoor food-safe paint to make them any color you want, if you don't like the natural weathered look.
They can be staggered and artistically arranged in groupings with plants in containers. Any type of plantings, food or decorative, will work well in these garden beds.

Below is a pic of  the beginning of the re-design of an over-grown and lazy space for a zen garden expansion 
planned for spring. The box with the black garden fence poked into it, is a little nursery right now for plants 
i want to baby until they're large enough to do well in a ground level flower bed. Some plants, such as Bee Balm, 
will remain in that bed for attracting pollinators, because this area flows into and out of  pollinator garden.

Raised beds that are not elevated (raised upon legs) are awesome, too. 
As long as they're tall and narrow enough to allow for a person seated to work around all surfaces of it. 
And that they're placed with enough room around or between them to allow for easy navigation by a gardener using a wheelchair.

These raised beds are easy to put together. Greene's Fence Company makes my favorite. The pieces dovetail into one another, which makes them extra sturdy, and all you need is a rubber mallet to guide the plants into the slots. Seriously, about 15 minutes tops to put them together. They come with landscape fabric to lay in before your soil.

If you're prefer to build them yourself, or have them built, there are some neat design plans you can use as a guide. Some things to consider and utilize when designing an Enabled Garden. Photo below is of an Enabled Gardener found on a site with no photo credit listed. Thanks, whomever you are.

Install accessible pathways

Pathways should be at least 4' wide.
The surface must be smooth and level; fill large holes or cracks.
Ensure that water drains properly to prevent muddy or slippery spots.
If an elevation change is needed, create a gently sloping ramp, ideally with handrails.
Concrete,  rubber, or crushed rock products will provide a safe surface, if installed properly.

Raised Beds Gardening
Build beds to the height needed for the needs of the gardener (e.g. make sure wheelchair gardeners are comfortable working at a height that gives them access to work the entire surface of the garden bed. 
Beds can be 3' or 4' wide if they're accessible on multiple sides. If beds are against a wall or fence they should be no wider than 2'. They can be as deep as you wish. If a wheelchair needs to fit under it, allow for the area underneath needed to be high enough for the gardener to lean up against the sides.

Plant container gardens. 
Install planters to raise plants so that they're easier to reach. Make sure that every planter or container  is secure, stable and heavy enough so it won't move, wobble or tip if gardeners lean on the rim.If necessary, attach planters to the surface beneath them before filling with soil.

Use hanging baskets positioned at a reachable level.

Plant vertical gardens. Growing climbing veggies or flower vines on vertical supports like trellises, makes plants easier to access, and it  frees up more garden space. We all love that.


Recommended Reading and Products For Designing 
and Growing an Elevated Decorative, or Enabled Garden
I use many of the Elevated Raised Garden Bed throughout my gardens. Best quality raised garden 
beds on-ground or elevated, in my experience, are those made by Greene's Fence Company. 
There are several others that i use, as well.
click the pics below to view the details. 
Then choose what fits your needs or the needs of a gardener with special needs.



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