Gardening for Everyone: Adapting Your Garden to You
Raised gardening allows everyone the opportunity to take part in the activity no matter their age or ability level. It gives every person the freedom to participate in growing their own vegetables, fruits, or flowers. Adapting your garden to thrive with you is important to happy plants and a healthy you. Everyone has their own ability level. If you’ve had a stroke, are in a wheelchair, have a weak grip or are one-handed, have sight impairments, or trouble bending, there are ways to adapt your tools and garden so you can continue to enjoy gardening. In our previous gardening post, we explained some of the basics of raised gardening. We mentioned the height of the garden would be dependent on what is comfortable for you. If you’re in a wheelchair or sit down to the garden, your beds should be two to three feet high and no more than 24 inches wide. If you prefer to stand while gardening, choose counter height beds (34-36 inches high). The design of your garden should be based on what is comfortable for you. The placement of your garden is just as important as its dimensions. Consider placing it in an area that receives plenty of sunlight. Be conscious of the space around the bed as well. Leave at least 36 inches around boxes to give plenty of space for chairs, wheelchairs, and walkers. It’s also nice for those who do not need these to have ease of maneuvering around the garden. If stretching across the box to water or reach your plants is too straining, reducing the width can help. Look for boxes that are within 24 inches wide instead of wider boxes that can exceed 42 inches. Make sure to keep the depth of your raised garden box at 12 inches, though. It is very important for your plants’ health to allow enough room for soil and roots. Tools are another important piece to your gardening puzzle. Improper tools for your needs can make it uncomfortable and leave you dissatisfied with your gardening experience. There are tools for everyone to help make gardening comfortable. Tools with t-shaped grips, right-angle to the tool grips, and grips made from soft material will make digging and breaking up the soil easier on your hands and arms. For pruning, you may want to opt for loppers instead of secateurs. Loppers use both hands instead of the secateurs which use one hand. If possible, bring all the tools you will need with you on one trip. This will save you from having to repeatedly move and come back to your spot. Tool length must also be considered before use. Using long-handled tools for a 24-inch wide bed may be a little excessive and will cause discomfort. Make sure to use shorter-handled tools that are lightweight when gardening in a raised bed. Working smarter instead of harder is key to a great garden. Watering can be a pain, but these helpful tips will make it a breeze. One way to make watering less of a strain is to have rain barrels stationed near your garden. Rain barrels are exactly what they sound like. They are barrels that catch and retain rainwater. They include a spout on the outside to make harvesting the water easy. Instead of carrying water from the house or nearest spicket, you can fill your watering can in your garden. This will cut down on having to carry a heavy water jug. A raised garden takes more water than a traditional garden because the air is able to circulate 360 degrees around the soil. Because the soil tends to dry out quicker, it is wise to add water-retaining granules to the soil. If you have multiple pots, including your raised garden, consider grouping everything together. Make the job less taxing by cutting down the distance you must walk between plots If you’re new to gardening or want to find easier plants to manage, there are plenty of beautiful flowers and vegetables that take little effort. Flowers such as marigolds, cosmos, ageratums, or California poppies are annuals that withstand the sun. Pansies, impatiens, and violas do well in part-shade or fully shaded areas. Perennials like French crane’s-bill, leopard’s-bane, and ice plant (showy stonecrop) are colorful and enjoy the sun and shade. To make your garden look fuller, and have herbs for cooking, you can also plant rosemary, thyme, parsley, and any other plants you love. Gardening is a great way to get outside and stay active. There are infinite ways to adapt your garden to make it more enjoyable for you. These helpful tips are just the beginning. If you would like more information specific to your needs, Thrive’s Carry on Gardening has resources for every ability level.