Getting accessible gardens right

July 31, 2019

Truly accessible gardens are few and far between. This is a crying shame as there are so many health benefits to gardens – from improved sleep to better mental health. A study by researchers Soga, Gaston & Yamaura published on Science Direct found: “Participating in gardening activities has a significant positive impact on health. Indeed, the positive association with gardening was observed for a wide range of health outcomes, such as reductions in depression and anxiety symptoms, stress, mood disturbance, and BMI, as well as increases in quality of life, sense of community, physical activity levels, and cognitive function.” 

As a garden is such a communal space, a disability should not stop you from using yours. There are lots of measures you can take to ensure your green space is easier to maintain and that you can get to every part of it without any problems. This guide from Arbordeck timber and composite decking specialists will advise on making your garden accessible so that you can get out in the open air and enjoy working and relaxing in your garden – as long as the British weather permits!

Taking care of flowerbeds accessible gardens - a decking path

When it comes to the garden, i.e. when you’re trying to reach flowers and plant them, it gets harder to bend down for long periods of time and tend to them properly. However, if you’re worried about this, then raised flowerbeds can be a great way of avoiding this difficulty altogether. If you’re able to bend down for a short while, or you’re in a wheelchair or mobility scooter, then you should have flowerbeds that are 18-24 inches off the ground. Alternatively, if you can’t bend down at all, then you should opt for flowerbeds that are 30 to 36 inches off the ground. 

For mobility scooters, you need sturdy pathways to accommodate easy navigation. The paths should be around 3-4 ft or 91-121cm wide; providing you with enough room and access to every corner of your garden. Don’t forget about turning space too. Try to ensure that your pathways are made of a surface that isn’t slippy and provides you with enough grip so that you don’t fall. If you use a gravelled surface, then this should provide enough safety for anybody using your garden. If you use flagstone or tarmac, then these are cost-effective materials that will last a long time and offer your ground support in terms of grip and safety. 

Creating a relaxing space

Your garden may be accessible, but it also needs to be enjoyed. This means you need a place to zone-out and relax. If you place an outdoor sofa or bench in the corner of your garden, then this can become a mini-retreat within an already tranquil setting – providing you with greater comfort within your garden. For a more alternative approach, you could embed seating areas within your plants to create a floral atmosphere while you’re sitting relaxed. 

Think about decking

For many gardens, laying down some decking boards can create a centre-piece that hosts all of your outdoor activities. It can be a place where you sit and admire your green space! If you're older and think decking would be a good idea for your garden, it’s important to choose the right boards that will be a reliable safe space within your garden. 

You should also think about other aspects of your garden too. Some people may require assistance from handrails, for example, which should be built in by professionals. 

Gardens are a great space where you can socialise with family or friends and if you make it more accessible for yourself and others, then you can enjoy it for years to come without any compromises. 

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