As gardeners age, they sometimes find themselves faced with difficulty completing traditional gardening tasks. It’s not so much that we can’t complete the tasks any more. We can. What we need is a little help to make those tasks accessible. If someone in your family faces mobility issues – due to aging or other causes – there are some simple measures you can take to make gardening accessible.
Raised beds can be built to any height to accommodate those in a wheelchair or with difficulty bending or stooping. They even provide needed relief for those, like me, who are no longer able to kneel for extended periods. Keep the user in mind when building the raised beds. While one may wish to garden from a chair, another may simply wish to avoid kneeling on the ground to complete garden tasks.
Many think of container gardens as pots and buckets set upon balconies or patios, but that isn’t always the case. Container gardens can be as large or as small as you choose – from that adorable terracotta pot filled with herbs and tomatoes to an old clawfoot tub overflowing with brightly colored flowers. The size and shape of the container you choose, where it is located and its overall style depends on the specific mobility issues the primary gardener faces. Asking the gardener what she prefers is always best, but if that isn’t possible, try to think like the gardener.
Rolling carts filled with a variety of plants allow you to bring the garden to the gardener for care and rolled back to the proper lighting when necessary. These also provide easy access for watering eliminating the need to carry sprinkling cans or drag the hose to distant areas. Whether you choose a simple cart topped with pretty posies or design a multileveled cart to display and an assortment of plants is up to individual taste.
Using trellises and fences allows those with limited mobility to tend and harvest fruits and vegetables with ease. Although the gardener may no longer be able to cultivate the soil or perform some tasks, vertical gardens allow him to enjoy a lifelong hobby from a standing or seated position. Consider trellises along a garden wall or use an ordinary fence to grow vining crops where fruit will hang at a convenient height.
Hanging baskets or vines growing on arbors provide easy access for those in a wheelchair. Decorative chains make hanging baskets adjustable so that they fall at the appropriate level for all gardeners while seating beneath arbors provide a convenient area to rest.