Landscaping for wheelchair accessibility

ntt_houApril 13, 2004

Like Sheila7863, I found a stool with wheels online: I'm going to order one so I can move around while gardening sitting down. I'm in a wheelchair and sitting in it, up high, while gardening can be a very dizzy job. Not to mention, after 15 minutes bending down, my face turns red like a tomato!

However, to wheel this stool on grass, can be very tiring. I need solid ground. I'm also looking to landscape the back yard of my first home in a way that would be wheelchair accessible. In other words, it would allow me to wheel close to the garden without dirting the tires of the wheelchair and in turn dragging the dirt inside the house.

I saw a photo in a recent Better Homes & Garden magazine of a possible landscape design. They used brick-like pavers instead of grass. The pavers were placed all over and around the trees, plants and garden. Looks like wherever they wanted to plant something, all they had to do is take the pavers out and plant!

What do you think? If you have any other suggestions, please feel free to post them.

I will try to post the photo of the garden soon.

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how about using long-reach tools so you don't have to bend over? I use them while standing as well as sitting

    Bookmark   April 19, 2004 at 12:41AM
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With some upper strenth or help, maybe you could unroll an outdoor style carpet, commecial grade indoor on a roll or just leave it in place. If that's the only reason, you wouldn't need to worry about the pavers being moved. I'll ask around for other suggestions.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2004 at 4:30AM
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Thank you for the suggestions. I have Post-Polio and don't have much strength on upper body and arms as I used to.

I have never used long-reach tools but can imagine that I would need to use more strength to use them. I find it easier if I sit closer to the ground to do just about anything. I sew occasionally and I even sit the sewing machine and myself on the floor to sew. It minimized tireness on my arms.

The outdoor carpet is a good idea but I use every minute in a day when I'm able to do gardening. So, after gardening, the least putting away, the better it is for me.

However, I will check out all of your suggestions and use them as a temporary solutions.

Sorry, I haven't been able to post the photo of the garden design that I'm talking about. I still haven't found the magazine. If you see the photo, perhaps, you'll understand better.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2004 at 11:42PM
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I found the photos of the garden design that I'm hoping to work on. These are taken from the Better Homes and Garden, March 2004 issue. I could only scanned them in B&W. It should give you some idea.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 27, 2004 at 9:57PM
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You and me a dream garden in a magazine. Have you found a group where you could pool resources and parter other than here ofcorse? Could you take a picture of your garden now? I'd like to see what you've done already.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2004 at 8:01PM
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The magazine's photos are for ideas only. I was looking for a style that allows me to roll my wheelchair easily around the garden without making such a mess on its wheels. Also, no grass so I wouldn't have to hire someone to mow it. In addition, since I don't have the fund to do it all at one time, this style allows me to do it little by little as the fund becomes available.

My plan is to have a similar garden set up. For example, instead of the individual brick/paver stone as shown, I'm going to place 12" square pavers. It look similar and it's in terracotta color also. I was talking to someone and he said that the easiest way is to have the grass mow it as low/short as possible then cover the lawn over with a weed fabric control or newspapers and place the pavers over it. He used this technique on his yards and it worked well. He didn't have to worry about levelling the lawn so much.

I will also put a drip irrigation system so I won't have to worry watering it every day.

I probably won't have that many outdoor furnitures nor the same type of plants but more or less of what I can grow in my climate zone.

So far, I haven't done much on my garden except planting some fruit and flower trees. Photos are shown at the link below.

Any input on this is appreciated.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 28, 2004 at 11:50PM
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Thanks for posting the picture. We have a few fruit trees at work too. I wanted to show you a picture of a garden that I take care of on a roof top of a skilled nursed area with some help. It's almost a spoil to what your trying to do but I think if you start closer with some raised beds or planter boxes with the idea of pouing concrete someday you'll be so way ahead of people who dream. I think your such a real gardener and what ever it takes you'll do it.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 1, 2004 at 9:18PM
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Thanks for sharing the photos. What a beautiful garden! Sure gave me some ideas. Thanks!

Btw, looks like I won't be buying plants for awhile. I've inhereted about 150 plants/flowers from my mom when she moved in a few days ago. So, I'll be working with these for a looong time. It will be fun to work with my mom on our gardens :)

    Bookmark   May 4, 2004 at 12:26AM
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Thank you and your welcome. You will be busy with 150 plants. Lucky for you to be gardening with your mother. I'll be moving next week out of my mothers house and expect to take a few piece of what she has soon as I turn some earth.
How do you work with plants at a table? Do you have a potting bench? I've been working with some people in wheelchairs and when outside it doesn't seem to matter about making a mess but when it's cooler is difficult to keep most of the soil from hitting the floor. I'd like to be able somehow to make a forming table that attaches to the wheelchair arms, forever now. Even if it was a piece of cloth that was was secured in all four conners and the soil rested in their laps. Like a apron. That's the only idea, I've come up with.
I have an idea, for you that's silly but wouldn't it be cool if you could find a motorized plant hanger like the sort of thing that's at the cleaners. One push of a button and you could rotate you hanging baskets to you. I imagine every kid in the neighborhood would want to give it a try. Wait I have a better idea a ferris wheel planter. LOL
Have lots of fun with you mom and your new additions.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2004 at 9:46PM
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Hey, you might be up to something here. I've always thought that we, disabled ones, are great inventors. We always seem to come up with great ideas on how to make our life & living easier.

Yes, I do use a low table to do pot plantings. I haven't done much gardening though but will have a chance soon.

I do have a yard maintenance company that helps out maintaining my yards. I do use them for heavy work on the yards such as transplanting huge trees and digging big holes.

I love plants, trees, flowers, etc. I must be surrounded by them to live! So, I'm sure I find ways to achieve gardenings. In addition, I have these forums to help me out! :~)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2004 at 8:23PM
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I like your basic idea of making your garden wheelchair accessible. I can understand what you mean about not wanting to bring dirt inside on the wheels of your chair.
My concern about your plan is that laying the 12 inch pavers may need to be more complicated than your plan. Generally, stones or pavers do not work well simply laid on a lawn covered by landscape fabric and newspapers. Usually, the grass is removed and layers of sand or coarse crushed stone. This allows for good drainage of your patio. Edges of the patio area are formed with timbers that are secured in place with deep stakes. One may also use conrete to pour curbs or edges to secure the sides of your patio. The reason for this is to prevent the paver stones from shifting. Then the pavers are laid on the leveled layer of sand and very fine sand is laid on top and forced between the pavers to hold them in place. Usually a machine is used to compact the sand bed before the pavers are laid and to vibrate the fine sand between the laid pavers.

There are good reasons for doing a garden path or patio this way. Using your friend's method, you will have an uneven surface. The pavers will rock, and may eventually crack. The newspaper will degrade and loose dirt will get between the pavers, giving weeds a place to grow. Worst of all, the patio and paths will move, giving you an uneven surface to use your wheelchair on, and there will be very poor drainage. Water and movement can destroy your pavers. I know that in Houston you do not have to worry much about winter frosts making your pavers heave out of place, but you do have very wet times that will make the newspaper and dying grass soggy and slippery. That will mean your pavers move and you may get a wheel stuck in a crack between them.

I know that it will cost a lot to hire someone to do a good job laying a patio and paths for your garden, but not doing it properly can ruin your investment in nice pavers and make your yard unusable.

Another option for you might be to make nice raised beds that you can reach more easily. These are my favorite gardening catalogs and they have several ways to make raised beds.
Gardener's Supply

Lee Valley Tools

Here is a link that might be useful: This Old House instructions for pavers

    Bookmark   May 12, 2004 at 6:57PM
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Thanks Nancy. Yes, I'm aware of these methods also. But, I'm not planning to do the whole yard all at once, just a few square feet at a time.

I have areas in my yards that has pavers laid down without any ground treatment. They've been there prior to my move in so I know they've been there for awhile. They seemed to be doing fine. Well, so far anyway. There are some on a very wet area and these haven't shifted neither.

Raised beds won't work since mostly, I'd be planting trees.

I'm going to test in a small area first before doing the rest and see what happens.

Thanks for the reminder though.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2004 at 12:09AM
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