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Gardening for the Disabled

Tips and Tools for Tending Gardens


Updated November 29, 2012

Gardening for the Disabled

Wheelchair Gardening

Dcwcreations @Dreamstime.com

Gardening isn’t just for the able-bodied; it is a great activity for people with disabilities well. With the assistance of specialized tools and plant containers, many individuals who do not have a full range of motion or strength in their hands can enjoy gardening outdoors or indoors.

Assistive Garden Tools

There are many tools that have been adapted to make them user friendly for disabled gardeners. Some of the most popular assistive garden tools are those that have specialized handles. The handles are either molded to the tool during the manufacturing process, or are sold separately and can then be placed on an existing tool to make it adaptive. In the United Kingdom, the PETA Ltd. manufactures these adaptive tools. Some of the tools they make in the “Easy Grip” gardening tool line include a trowel, cultivator and weeder. They also make long-reach tools, an arm support cuff and add-on handles, which make gardening for those in wheelchairs an easier task.

Another company that is striving to make easy to use gardening tools is Fiskars, a company with a global presence. While they may be best known for their scissors, they make gardening tools that have been awarded the “ease of use” commendation from the Arthritis Foundation. Individuals who may not have the strength in their hands, or have pain in their joints, can use their products to do tasks that typically cause stress and pain in hands, elbows and shoulders. Products include a variety of pruners, loppers, hedge shears as well as a weed and root remover. The cushioned handles make doing these tasks easy, as well as comfortable.

Other gardening tool considerations may include using a two-wheeled wheelbarrow or cart, as opposed to the single-wheeled model. For those with medium to large gardens, using a lawn-mower that can pull a garden cart may be an option as well.

Raised Gardens

Raised gardens are boxes that are of varying heights above the ground. They are containers, often made of wood or plastic wood, that are strong enough to hold a large amount of soil. They may be custom made or purchased in kits. They are popular with individuals who cannot bend down or kneel, as well as individuals who are wheelchair bound. A raised garden bed can be made as high as needed so that the gardener can easily weed, harvest and water their crops.

Raised garden beds can be used to plant a variety of crops from annual vegetables and flowers to perennial raspberries, blueberries and currants. They may also be used to plant miniature and dwarf varieties of fruit trees.

Trellis and Hanging Gardens

Trellis and hanging gardens can be easy to tend, depending upon the size and scope of the garden project. A trellis can be used for growing a variety of fruits and vegetables, and it can make it easy for people with certain disabilities to tend crops. The size of the trellis can be made to a specific height, and crops can be pruned and trained to follow a low trellis. Examples of crops that can be trained to grow on a trellis include beans, peas, hops, cucumbers, squash and tomatoes. Numerous flowers can be trained on a trellis, such as sweet peas, roses and trumpet flowers.

Hanging gardens can be set up indoors, outdoors or even on a porch where it is easiest for someone to tend the plants on a regular basis. There are many different ways to take advantage of hanging gardens. There are hanging pots, hanging plastic pouches and upside down planters, which can be hung from hooks and poles at the right height for the gardener.

Window Boxes and Containers

Window boxes and containers are simple to use and easy to care for during the growing season. Many window boxes are removable, and if they aren’t, a plastic container that is slightly smaller can be placed inside so that it can be removed and cleaned each season. Containers come in many different sizes and are made of a variety of materials, from pottery and terra cotta to lightweight plastic.

For those who have limited space, but want to grow herbs, flowers and some smaller vegetables, window boxes and containers can be the answer. Certain miniature trees and compact trees can also be grown in larger containers. Larger containers holding bushes or trees can be kept on a porch in warmer climates or be stored inside of a garage during the winter months.

Plan a Garden

If you are looking for a new hobby, or simply want to get back to an old favorite, consider gardening. A garden can be started any time of the year, and can consist of any type of plant you find interesting. It can be made up of vegetables, herbs, flowers, trees or bushes. Many individuals enjoy growing indoor plants, such as African Violets, cacti or spider plants. You are only limited by the space you have available, and your imagination.

Compare Prices on raised garden kits and accessories here.

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