Accessible Gardening for Beginners

Raised garden pansies

As seen in Comfort Keepers’ blog.

Benefits of Gardening

Gardening has been credited by multiple research studies to have a positive effect on mental health. There are physical and psychological benefits to go along with the popular outdoor activity. Things like core strengthening and better heart health along with reduced stress and an increased sense of well-being are just a few of the perks to gardening. But if you are one out of the many who struggle to get on their knees to pull out those weeds, it doesn’t mean you need to stop. It just means you need to adjust.

Empty raised garden box
Give your plants room to breathe. Make sure your box is at least 12 inches deep.

Find Your Perfect Height

Raised gardening is an alternative to traditional gardening and still offers the same great benefits. Raised gardening can be done from a sitting position if you are in a wheelchair, or from a standing position with counter height boxes.

If you are in a wheelchair or prefer to garden sitting down, garden beds should be two to three feet high and no more than 24 inches wide. Counter height beds should be 34 to 36 inches high. Most commercial beds, however, are 36 to 48 inches high. Find one that is the most comfortable for you to manage. All raised beds need to be six to 12 inches deep to allow for plenty of soil and room for roots.

Wall and window boxes are also an option if you have limited space for garden beds. Keep in mind the height of your boxes so they can be easily managed from your stance.

Preparing to Garden

A common practice done before other physical activities, warming up is also an important piece of gardening. Strains and pains can be avoided with the proper loosening of your hands, wrists, fingers, shoulders and back. Gardening during a cool morning or without moving your body beforehand may lead to those stiff muscles giving you soreness later.

Your Gardening Toolbox

Tools may be one of the most important pieces of gardening. The proper tools, however, will allow you to make the most of your time in the garden. Accessible gardening tools are especially helpful to those with arthritis or who have issues using conventional gardening tools. Easy-grip pruners, telescoping handles, naturally angled handles, and many other adaptive tools take the strain out of gardening.

The other half of your toolbox should include sunscreen, bug repellant, a hat or visor, sunglasses, gloves, knee pads and the proper footwear. Non-slip, closed-toe shoes are highly recommended to minimize the chance of falling or injury from dropping something. Also, make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout your time in the garden.

Pansies

Choosing What to Plant

After all of this preparation, the remaining question is what to plant. Because your plants are now housed in a container, plants with shallow roots are the best option. Plants that root deep into the ground will be unhappy in their shallow pool. Hardy perennials are great as well because they can withstand the harshest winters, as often seen in the Midwest, to bloom year after year. Daylilies, coneflowers, hydrangeas and yarrows will give your gardens a splash of color.

Vegetables are also popular for raised beds. Anything from beets, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, parsley, peppers, tomatoes and so many others will give you plenty of produce for the season.

 

Managing Your Raised Garden

Once you’ve chosen what you’re going to plant, the next step is prepping your raised garden and managing it. It’s good to line your raised garden in landscaping fabric. If your bed is constructed of wood, it’s better to coat it in linseed oil rather than staining it. This will ensure no unwanted chemicals leech into your soil. As for soil, choose one that is organic and free of harmful chemicals.

Keeping your garden watered doesn’t have to be difficult. Finding a system that works best for you is the key to healthy plants. There are many types of watering solutions to choose from: Curly hose, watering wand, automatic sprinklers and irrigation hoses are all options for sustaining an accessible garden. You may need to water your raised garden more often than a conventional garden because there is more air circulating around the soil.

Happy Gardening!

With all of these tools and tips, it’s now time to start your own garden. The possibilities are endless and will lead to a happier, healthier you.

 

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Here at Home For Life Advantage, we pride ourselves on being the leading provider of ADA accessibility equipment in the Greater Chicago area. Serving people with disabilities and seniors desiring to remain independently living in their homes. We also supply and install accessibility equipment in commercial buildings.