Gardening with Disabilities: Designing a Garden for Accessibility

| 5/3/2011 1:39:41 PM

Susan HoysagkSusan Hoysagk is a seasoned nurse who, when not busy "nursing it up," can be found gardening, experimental cooking with fresh organic herbs and veggies from her garden, reading, writing and rearranging her yarn stash. 

"Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads." ~ Henry David Thoreau 


One of the perks of gardening is having clean food. No, not clean like washing your veggies, clean. Clean as in free from the whole array of chemicals used on and in our food these days. Insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers—all things that make fruits and vegetables grow faster, bigger and prettier—yet, for the most part, tasteless compared to the stuff I get from my yard. Oh sure, my strawberries are not as big and beautiful as those big, plump Frankenberries at the market, but mine taste like sweet, delicious strawberries. I grow mine in a half whiskey barrel, very accessible and easy to take care of. This brings us to the topic of this week’s blog: garden design. Ha! You thought I was going to say containers, didn’t you?  

Getting around the garden and doing so safely is one of the challenges many with disabilities face. Accessibility is as important as the act of gardening itself. With thoughtful and sometimes creative garden design, safe and easy access means all the difference for folks with power scooters or chairs, wheelchairs, walkers, canes, activity intolerance or visual impairment.  

herb box 
Elevated planter boxes are one of the many ways to customize the gardening experience to meet each individual's physical needs. Photo By FiveTen/Courtesy Flickr.