Whether you’ve just moved into your forever home and want to ensure that your garden will serve you throughout your life, want to make it more accessible for others or are finding that it’s not working for you currently, there are myriad reasons to upgrade your garden. And, as summer comes to an end there is no better time to take on a garden project, giving you autumn and winter to get it ready for spring.
Read on to discover some of the upgrades you can make to increase the accessibility of your outdoor space.
Consider an outdoor lift
Considering installing an outdoor lift might not be the first thing that comes to your mind when thinking about how to make your garden more accessible, however, it can offer myriad benefits to both your home and garden experience.
With our domestic lifts for wheelchairs, you can enjoy the benefits of a lift without having to utilise your interior footprint. Also, as well as offering step-free garden access, it can also extend across all floors of your house, meaning you can zip from the garden upstairs to the bathroom to wash off muddy hands in an instant.
Our lift doors have no threshold, and as such no trip hazard when entering and exiting the lift. Ensuring there is no threshold between your indoor and outdoor space is a top tip from Vicki from Wheel Chic Home: “When planning an accessible garden, the primary concern is having safe, level access from the house. Having the door threshold lowered to allow a wheelchair or other mobility aid to move smoothly over, avoiding trip hazards, means a person with a disability can move independently from the house to the garden. Once outside, choose flooring with a high non-slip rating, either composite decking or non-slip patio slabs.”
Alternatively, an outdoor stairlift can upgrade necessary staircases and make them wheelchair friendly. Even for non-wheelchair users, the aide it can offer moving heavy objects up and down cumbersome staircases can be great. Plus, as it can be folded up, it takes up a small amount of space when not in use.
Install ramps instead of stairs
Where it is possible, installing ramps instead of stairs can make access easier for everyone. Alexandra from the blog The Middle-Sized Garden offered this tip, telling us: “a sloping ramp is going to be more helpful than steps for wheelchairs, wheelbarrows and even children playing, but it must be built at the right gradient.”
As Alexandra says, when it comes to installing a ramp, the gradient is incredibly important and can turn a useful feature into a hazard, so it is always wise to get a professional in to take a look. Ramps can be especially useful for gardens with multiple levels, allowing you to get from the top level to the bottom with ease.
Utilise raised beds
If you are green-fingered but feel as though your current garden isn’t allowing you to get involved with the plants as much as you’d like, looking at utilising raised beds or tabletop gardens will take the strain off. Bought pre-made or custom-made to your desires, raised beds can take the backache out of gardening. And, for those who prefer to sit whilst gardening, or use a wheelchair, a tabletop bed will give you space below and mean you don’t have to have your legs pushed up to the bed to get close.
Maria Lindbergh, the owner of Stay at Home Solutions, agrees, telling us: “I absolutely recommend raised beds with legs to allow people to sit while facing the bed. Sitting while gardening conserves energy and facing the bed keeps you from twisting and hurting your back. The West Virginia University Center for Excellence in Disabilities gives more great tips on raised garden beds.”
Have a variety of seating options
In order to make your garden accessible to all, having a variety of seating options can mean everyone can make themselves comfortable. This is another tip from Alexandra, who explained: “Have a variety of heights in your garden seats – in a home, seats are not all at the same height because people are not all the same height. It’s the same in gardens. And some people need arms on their seats to help them get in and out of them, but for others arms can get in the way.”
As well as having a variety of heights and types of seating, making sure there is seating throughout your garden can be a useful feature. This way, it’s easy to take a break and take a seat whether you are at the end of the garden or on the patio.
Maria from Stay at Home Solutions suggests garden kneelers as a seating and kneeling alternative if you are doing garden work. She explains: “Garden kneelers with seats are a great option for frequent rest breaks if you need to garden on the ground. They are typically lightweight, which makes them easy to carry around. You can use the garden kneeler legs to push up to stand from kneeling and then flip it over to sit on the seat and rest.”
Be vigilant with edging
Whether it’s the edging of flower beds or a change in surface, being vigilant to ensure edging is strong and clearly defined is important. A simple and often overlooked trip hazard, from little ones running around a garden to those who might utilise mobility aids to walk, being able to have a clear definition between surfaces can help avoid accidents. As well as ensuring edging is durable, for those whose eyesight might not be the best, utilising bright colours with paints or colour tiles can be useful and can be a nice project to involve family members and little ones in.
When it comes to edging and the size of paths, Maria tells us that you should make paths “three feet wide to accommodate people who use wheelchairs or walkers. This type of set up makes it so everyone can easily move around and access the entire garden.”
Add ample lighting
Adding lighting to a garden might seem like it only adds decorative flair, but on cold winter days and dark evenings, it can go a long way towards increasing accessibility. Whether it’s adding strip lighting down a pathway to highlight that all-important edging, or installing motion-activated lights in the most frequented zones (like near the gate or the bins), making sure there is ample lighting in your garden can be a really useful touch.
There are myriad styles of light that can be useful to use in a garden, from those that come on automatically when the sun goes down to motion-activated lighting but with modern technology you can also use smart-lighting to give yourself remote control over the lights, meaning you can switch them on before you even open the back door.
How to create an accessible garden:
- Consider an outdoor lift
- Install ramps instead of stairs
- Utilise raised beds
- Have a variety of seating options
- Be vigilant with edging
- Add ample lighting
From installing an outdoor stairlift to ensuring you have ample lighting, there are changes big and small that can be made to make your garden more accessible. And, if you are also looking to upgrade your interior space, our range of domestic lifts can help you do so.
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