Older woman standing alongside an 18-inch high brick raised bed tending plants without bending at the waist.
Gather a notepad, pen, and tape measure and begin with an assessment of the gardener's abilities and limitations:
- Are strength, flexibility, and endurance compromised?
- Can the gardener get down and up from the ground unaided?
- Will the gardener work standing or seated? Both?
- Does the gardener use cane(s), crutches, walker, or wheelchair that requires the use of hands for mobility, making it challenging to carry items?
|Young man using power wheelchair tending a 24-inch high wood frame raised bed.|
- How much time is available to garden? How long can work be done between rest periods? No garden should initially take more than 30 minutes or so a day to tend. Start small.
- How high overhead and low (in inches) can the gardener comfortably reach without stretching or stooping? A good range within to work for an adult is about 18 inches off the ground at the lowest point and 60 inches at the high point for someone seated or standing, although taking actual measurements will adjust this to the height of the individual.
- How far can an individual comfortably reach straight out in front and straight out to the side without leaning? The average is about 24 inches.
- If seated while gardening, what knee clearance is required to get under a table? The ADA guideline is 27 inches; however, some using electric scooters need 28 inches.
- If crutches, walker, wheelchair, or scooter are used, how wide must entrance gates, pathways, distance between containers, etc., be to accommodate users - including hands? A minimum of 28 inches is necessary for wheelchair users, although 40 inches will accommodate just about anyone.
- Will more than one person be using the garden at the same time or will the space need to accommodate outdoor furniture, etc.? Both would suggest larger paved areas.
|Enabling gardens are all about adapting the garden using planters to position growing areas within easy reach along with adapting the gardener with special tools so anyone can comfortably participate in America's number one hobby.|
These questions determine indicate the need for paving the number, positioning, and measurements (height and width), for containers and raised beds, pathway, and open area dimensions - all customized to the gardener's abilities.
Person seated at waist high shallow pan beds holding 18" long pruner to harvest lettuce.
- Is gripping strength (for tools) impaired?
- Does the gardener have impaired vision?
- What is the tolerance to sun, heat, and cold?
- What are assets ? strong arms, shoulders, and grip? Good balance? Acute vision? Positive attitude?
Information here will be important for good tool and equipment selection as well as adopting techniques that improve comfort and safety.