I would love some input from everyone.......

firehoney(z5 Ohio)December 22, 2003

Hello, all!

I am a manager of a garden center, and would love to make my store more accessible and user-friendly for people who have disabilities of all kinds.

Could all of you give me some feedback on your ideas, experiences (good, bad and ugly) on shopping in a garden center?

Ehat would make it easier for you?

What has made it difficult for you?

Thanks in advance!


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

For individuals who have trouble walking/standing for long periods (painful feet, sore hips, bad backs, arthritis, etc.), seating in various areas is helpful. It would also be nice to indicate the seating isn't only for display purposes. I have curvature of the spine and sometimes would like to sit when my hip hurts. My mother had burrs on her feet, and she also appreciated a place to rest while shopping. My mother-in-law with arthritis also likes to sit occasionally while shopping.

For those who don't see well or who are in wheelchairs, aisles/paths that are large enough to walk down without running into merchandise helps. (My husband who is blind hates to walk down cramped aisles where he thinks he might run into something or knock something over.)

For those who don't see well, large, level steps are helpful in areas where one must go up/down. We recently purchased a large amount of rock for hardscaping, but walking in the rock yard was dangerous as their steps were crumbling/uneven and there were no railings to hold onto.

As in any store, having interested, knowledgeable staff assist in finding merchandise is always helpful. When we've had staff assist us, we've sometimes had a hard time keeping up with staff members who want to show us where the merchandise is. It would help if the staff would slow down since it's hard to chase after someone when you don't see well or your hip hurts.

Something to keep in mind: Disabilities aren't always obvious. For example, you wouldn't know to look at my husband that he can't see. Also, sometimes the person with a disability really doesn't want others to know there is a problem.

Finally, most significantly, it's important for those who have a disability to feel they are on equal footing as those without a disability. We have money to spend so don't discount us. In fact, I can say from a personal standpoint, that most of our extra income goes on gardening and garden-related products. This year alone, we've purchased yards & yards of compost & mulch, organic products for the soil, pots, birdbaths, garden ornaments, potting soil, water hoses, garden edging, tons of plants, seeds, bulbs, two pallets of bricks, two pallets of limestone, shovels, granite sand, & regular sand for garden pathways.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2003 at 10:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
smittee(central florida)

I have trouble with garden paths that are cluttered and narrow. I love garden centers that have paths that will allow push carts like shopping carts. I'll drive an extra 50 miles to go to a garden center with push carts
I cant carry anything more then a 4' pot
I have diabetes with major foot problems /arthritis in hips/neck and back pain from car accident/ and Fibro Myalgia
I still garden in pots
and high beds

    Bookmark   December 23, 2003 at 1:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I prefer shopping at garden centers with the plants displayed on raised structures such as tables or shelves rather than ground level because my challenge is bending or kneeling. I is easier to make a selection if plants are appropriately identified and priced. When easy to handle carts are available that is also appreciated.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2003 at 1:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Over the years we have spents thousands at garden centers!! I use a 3 wheeled scooter and our favorite garden center has both an indoor and outdoor section. The indoors consist of a huge covered greenhouse and store. All the plants are raised up on large rectangular wooden tables. The tables are spaced so that anyone can get around them easily. The floor is concrete and level. The store is large and there are areas that are tight, but in this case I usually can get a clerk to get the item for me. It's also nice to have clerks wearing a bright red shirt which makes them stand out from customers! The outside garden area has wide brick paths that curve around the large plants, shrubs and trees.

Some points:

Try to keep aisles clear of clutter.
If using hoses to water during the day make sure you have staff to warn customers so they don't trip over them!!
Make sure your floors aren't slippery and that includes the greenhouses.
Make sure your check-outs are wide enough!!
Benches are a great idea for customers of all ages to sit and rest!!
Have a disabled parking area.


    Bookmark   December 24, 2003 at 12:53AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
firehoney(z5 Ohio)

Thanks for all of the great ideas, so far! Please keep them coming...........I appreciate all of them.

I'd also like some input on specialty gardening tools that any of you have used, that maybe have made gardening easier for you. We are making some changes to the items that we carry, and I would like to include some specialty items for those people who need them.

The biggest problem in our store is space - or lack of it. We try our best to keep things off the floor, and keep aisles clear, but it doesn't always work. I do know that our staff is always ready to help with reaching out- of-the-way product.

Thanks, again!


    Bookmark   December 24, 2003 at 3:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Deb,
My suggestion is people who work there that are helpful, patient, & kind. This can make up for many, many things. With the right people all obstacles can be overcome. God bless you for asking! Happy holidays!

    Bookmark   December 26, 2003 at 10:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Deb *firehoney*, I want to sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart for your post. The fact that someone who is not disabled, is putting her hand out to all of us, in an effort to make gardening *Accessible* to most of us is much appreciated. I can attest to the fact how thereputic gardening can be. The second part of your nickname 'honey' suites you well. I really can't add much (perhaps a few things) to the post by Redthistle. She covered a whole lot of different areas where people in your position, can and do have the desire to be of help to those who are disabled. Each and every poster has something of value to add to your question. I do not mean to be critical of those who posted that money is not an issue for them. However, those lucky enough to have the means to incorporate all the suggestions, please know that it is a blessing. There are many who do not have the means to get everything the garden requires. I never gardened until three years ago. After each of my surgeries, I would return home with many plants and somehow I managed to kill them all in short period of time. It took many years of depression until I could just accept the fact that I was not the same person I was approximately 10 years ago. One day I took a long and hard look at my life (Or better said, lack of a it) and decided that if I am to live I had better start looking at the glass as half full and not half empty.
When I told my family that I wanted to start a flower garden, they thought me daft. It was the best decision I ever made. I started to dream of what I would like my garden to look like. I spent the first winter reading many Gardening Books, Magazines and I surfed the Internet. It is a good idea to have different Gardening Books and Magazines in your centre. (I am Canadian and so I spell differntly (The Queen's English.)
as not everyone has access to a computer. When I had a better idea of what I wanted my garden to look like, I decided that I needed a responsible and knowledgeable person to direct me. I made a map to scale of my very small area. It was then that I went to a Garden Centre (map in hand). I was very lucky to find a very knowledgeable and very PATIENT young lady. I told her approximately what I wanted my garden to look like. (Polite, knowledgeable and PATIENT staff is a must in any Garden Centre)
It was here that the GardenCentre in my area (there are not many) as I live in a large metropolitan city. I would say that these facts go a long way to encourage people with disablilities that there are different ways of achieving the same thing. Encouragement, played a bill role in giving me the will to succeed. The information I received in the Garden Centre helped me to know what it is that I needed to start. Like explaning how important good soil is, and what nutrients it should have. I showed this young lady my map, she was impressed that I came prepared with the size of the area I had. I also had a list of plants that I liked. She took the time to go over the entire list and tell me whether they were hard to establish, or easy to grow, how much space I must leave for each plant. Which would do better in the sun and those which required some shade. How much water and when the best time is. I can say that before she replied to one question, I had the next one on my tongue. She tried to teach me where to put the taller plants and where the shorter. I learned all this and much more in the Garden Centre. There are many on this forum and others that can attest to the fact that I was full of questions. Some things I never thought to ask and had to learn those lessons the hard way by trial and error. Some plants which are not invasive to someone with a lot of land was very invasive to me.
When it came to tools, again the Garden Centre helped a great deal. They explained that the most expensive pruner is not necessarily the best for my weak arthric hands and fingers. The weight of the tools is very important and so I believe you should have a selection of ergonamic tools and explain the pros and cons of each. On one of the forums I learned that there were tools which are expandible. Only when I got the first such tool home, I was unable to use it, first because it kept collapsing and second because when you are seated down low it became heavier as I tried to reach out with it.
I have found numerous enabling tools, some worked for me some didn't. Therefore, I believe a good return policy is VERY important. The GardenCentre I started out with helped me a great deal, however, there was always a hassle (which I can live without) when something had to be returned. Because the first Garden Centre had been such a great help to me I truly wanted to be a loyal customer. I found out later that it was this particular employee who treated her customers so well. However, it was the owner of the establishment that set policies,and the employees had to follow his orders even when the salesperson felt that the customer truly had a legimate reason for the return.
Then I received a catalogue from another Garden Centre (they were a sponsor of this forum, however, not sure whether they still are) and even though it was about 450 miles from where I live, even if I included the shipping charges they were less expensive for the identical item in the end. When I was in their city, they encouraged me hold some of the tools to see which I was more comfortable with.It is important for those of us who cannot afford everything, to shop where the prices are competitive. Speaking for myself when I feel as though I have to make a purchase because the salesperson is pushy, most times I am in pain and will just make a purchase so that I can get out of there. (That is where my husband contributes to my garden,) I have made him the person who will make a return for me.) Not that it happened often.
When reading the advice given by others, the subject came up about being able to sit. Well I have done two things that help with this situation, helping me to get up from a kneeling position (when I am able to get myself down). First, I had a man place some large rocks one puts in a rock garden, (they all have flat tops) and had them placed strategically withing the garden so I can sit on them and work the areas all around. And I purchased a small bench which can be turned over to kneel or sit on.It has strong steel handles to hold onto to help push yourself up. But the best buy was a gel cushion. I use the gel pad to sit on the rocks as they cannot be perfectly flat and it hurts the hips to sit there for any period of time, I put in on my little bench to kneel on and also when I overturn the bench to sit on it. It is not broken by the sharp rocks and I use it more than any other tool I have.
Have made up for the long time I have not posted on this forum, mostly because of a woman who told me when I started this forum that we would not succeed. She even tried to tell some that it was possible for a disabled person to build a pond. Well, it gives me much pleasure to see that this forum has flurished in spite of her.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2003 at 11:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I just found this forum! What a great place to come and get ideas. I have a new knee, which is great, but unfortunately have developed herniated lumbar discs this year. I am placing newspaper on my little garden spot in preparation to build a raised bed. Question----what have you used to make the elevated sides of the raised bed? Commercial kits are way beyond my budget. Thanks in advance for the suggestions.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2004 at 8:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

as punky mentionned, rocks are great seats - and they're also great barriers for holding back soil. i always build up my gardens as you suggested with newspaper [the lasagna way] and in most places, i've not needed any 'sides.' once the garden is the proper height, i've added mulch - and that keeps the soil from washing away.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2004 at 2:34AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Kinseeker(z7 VA)

Thanks, Deb, for being so aware of our problems and needs! I would suggest that users of wheelchairs and scooters find it difficult to navigate on uneven terrain. Like Aker, I too use a 3-wheeled scooter, and gravel paths are the bane of my existence, as are cobblestones. I have read about a substance that I plan to use in my garden. It is used by builders, etc., for erosion control but can be applied in different quantities to hold soil in place in garden paths. It is called Soiltac. I haven't tried it yet, but it seems to be something that could be looked into. Donna

    Bookmark   January 21, 2004 at 10:32AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
birdz_n_beez(z5-6 NY)

Please stop with the sinking gravel!! Wheels don't like sinking gravel. Solidly packed is fine. Also, if you have a bathroom, my experience is that most "handicapped" bathrooms...aren't! I think they should do a dry run through all bathroom's being built with someone IN a wheel chair. Sorry, one of my pet peevs. =)

    Bookmark   February 3, 2004 at 10:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Everyone I am very happy to have found this forum.
I have to tell you all that I have been a gardener for years. I have been forever. My dad got me started as a kid.
Anyway.June 12, 2001 I was told I had an eye problem that was rare. well it is not. But It is not good when you are told that glasses won't help, laser won't work.and that surgery is not an option. What is a gardener to do? I don't work out anymore. and so I had to fine a way to garden and keep from weeding everything, weed or not. but I couldn't tell when the plants are small they all looked the same. if I waited til they were all big I had to much of a mess and never got it so you could tell what flowers I had.
So I went to Lowes, and I found just what I needed. I bought bright orange constrution flages. My hubby hates these things with a passion. But everytime I plant a plant in gose a flag. I don't mark bubls.all plants in every flower bed gets marked.
I have about 200 flags. I am legally blind at the age of 47 and I had to do something or go mad. I don't like the color but they work.My Hubby asked me in the spring when I was going to start to take the flags out. Now if I did that I might pull up a plant, plant on top of it. or plant to close to one,Now if there were camo flags I would buy them all.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2004 at 9:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
juliebw(z5 NY)

I would love to work with a garden center in my area so they could carry more tools which are truly useful to aging gardeners. I am a Master Gardener Volunteer with my local Cornell Cooperative Extension (in NY State). I am also an occupational therapist, and have worked in rehab with people with all kinds of disabilities. I also have arthritis in more joints than I can count! I have developed a presentation for CCE and garden clubs entitled Simplified Gardening for the Young at Heart. In my presentation I recommend the following tools/equipment which you could consider carrying: self-watering containers, soaker hose, garden cart with large wheels, self-coiling hose (not small diameter), loop hoe (mine is from Lee Valley), drill attachment for bulbs (steel, not aluminum), long handled trowel, kneeling bench, garden scooter, lever-style faucet handle (Lee Valley), ratchet tools (Florian). I buy most of my tools from mail order sources, but many people really want to hold them before buying. Thank you for considering this unmet need in your area, it gives me hope in my area. I visit this forum periodically to see what tools and strategies people are using.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2004 at 11:19AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
storygardener(5/6 central oh)

Thank you so much for your interest in this topic!! I don't remember seeing this yet. Please keep the pathes clear of hoses as much as possible. Even a hose can be a barrier to someone that has trouble manervering a cart over it.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2004 at 3:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
firehoney(z5 Ohio)

Hello to all!

My apologies for seeming to be absent from this forum, but Spring has slapped me in the face (already!!!)

I want to thank each and every one of you for your ideas, comments, pet peeves, etc., and they are all on my "to do" list. I am doing what I can, with the funds available to me, to make EVERYONE'S shopping experience at my store a wonderful experience.

I am going to post a new thread with some new questions for all of you. I would greatly appreciate input there, too.

Happy Gardening!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2004 at 7:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
gardeningartist(7B TX)

Re: thereputic gardening , This could apply to every gardener out here, with or without handicaps. What a insightful post!!! We all suffer these same problems, to some degree or another. Cheers to those of you that have to go the extra mile every day. God bless you all.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2004 at 11:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
broken_lady(z6 ok)

I have just one thing to say about this post WOW!!!!!!!!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2004 at 8:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

hi, i am not disabled but i had to respond, alot of places dont even bother asking what the public wants anymore, some corporation decides for everyone.
any way, i agree with the cluttered aisles, and my pet peeve at garden centers? blowing debris, or spraying the plants and dirt while i am shopping. i think it is rude! it should be done before or after operating hours.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2004 at 7:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Great suggestions I might add! My problems are visual and carrying heavy things.
Today saw an absolutely awesome tree but the print was so small I couldn't read it. What many younger people might not understand is eyes go first even without any additional problems.

How about a place where measurements were boldly marked? You really think I KNOW how tall 15' is? Kinda like a "Grow Chart." Me, 3x -1.5' is a little hard to imagine.

When I win the Lotto I'm going to build a disABLED and/or Boomer paradise. Won't we have fun!

Thanks for thing of this thread. When that Lotto comes my way you're hired!


    Bookmark   April 12, 2004 at 9:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
qbirdy(z4/5 Central NY)

I work with disabled people, I drive bus to a closed work shop for the handicapped. They go all over to all kinds of store and love to get out in the world. Thanx so much for caring enough to ask how to help! SO many would love to og to garden centers but can't. Wide enough aisles to pass two carts, no hoses all over the place, tags with names and prices at wheelchair eyelevel would all help. Handicapped van accesible parking close to garden center doors would be good too, since a lot of handicapped spots are just plain old parking spots that arent wide enough to open side doors for wheelchair lifts or ramps.
Bright blessings!!


    Bookmark   April 16, 2004 at 9:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Betty_Ruth(z5 MoUSA)

One of my pet peeves is items on low shelves with no easily visible price. I have bifocals , so have to stoop over to see prices, but have had knee surgery years ago, so can't easily bend to SEE prices! Betty Ruth

    Bookmark   April 23, 2004 at 11:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is great, I have trouble walking on the hard floors for very long, having problems with both my feet. Lots of great ideas. We went to a store recently, it was not a garden center but we were looking for landscaping material at a well known lumber place and they had patio blocks on sale, we walked through their garden area and all over looking for them, If it is a small place and things are kept outside due to size and quantity, just a few in an appropriate area with a sign saying you need to buy at check out would have saved my feet from alot of wear and tear. Of course I was very frustrated with the rude attitudes as well. The product we were looking for were high up on the wall at the exit door. It may have been handy for them but we won't be going back to any of their stores ever.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2004 at 3:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
compost_hugger_nancy(z4/5 NES MI)

Great ideas everyone. Even to have a few "handicap" carts like the three wheelers or even the type in the grocery stores would help us who can't stand or walk long enough to see the whole product line. Even with my cane I get too fatiqued to walk around and browse.

Biggest thing for me has been isles not only wide enough for the cart but enough turning radius at the ends.

Now for those of us who like organic products etc (some of us are allergic to chemicals) perhaps not having to go down the lane with the pesticides but a seperate section.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2004 at 7:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Greetings! I haven't read all the posts on this on as there are so many. Benches in the shade are always welcome and I haven't been to a garden center that has any yet.
I would love to see you hire a wheel chaired person so that you can see first hand the difficulties that some have.
I dislike the pea stone gravel that some use for paths. It makes it hard to walk or roll on without getting mired up. Thanks for asking!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2004 at 3:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Dear Deb,

What terrific insight. I have a spinal cord injury and wheelchair dependent, but I garden with my husband every possible opportunity. Many garden centers could learn a great deal from you. Wider path areas, wider isles that are uncluttered, plant materials elevated to observeable height (approx 30"), and identifications more visible. Gravel areas are fine, but off the main access areas. Where possible and feasable all aspects of the garden scene should be made accessible for handicapped AND non-handicapped gardeners. As in the garden, design is the key, and hopefully, balance the result. Accessability awareness is better now than ever before and hopefully, will continue to improve as people like yourself address the uncomfortable issues.

Thank you for your concerns and attention to all gardeners everywhere.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2004 at 9:58AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
BamaCottage(z7 Alabama)

I am not sure if anyone addressed this or not. But people like myself who are mobility challenged but not in a wheel chair often have trouble getting up and down from a seated position. So when planning seating, pay attention to how tall it is. Often seating in stores (when there is any) is a bench about 13 to 15 inches off the floor. I don't dare sit on these because my knees and low back will not allow me to get up again without assistance.

Thanks for considering this issue. I hope your thoughtfulness results in a thriving business for you.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2004 at 9:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The above posters have some great ideas for most nursery owners. With the thought that other nursery owners may be reading, I'd like to pass along some great tips from a nursery recently visited.

It is outside the city where land is cheaper...the drive makes a nice outing. When you arrive you can stay in your car and drive on one-way lanes thru blocks of large and small container shrubs, trees, vines, etc. You just exit your car, put the container inside, and continue shopping. You finally exit next to large building where an employee comes to your vehicle (it's grand not to have to haul the plants out again), and totals up your selections...takes your money and away you go!

If you want smaller bedding plants, hanging baskets, etc., they are on waist-high tables in large covered sheds near the exit. An employee will bring them to your car if you'd like (and know what you want).

They have large display gardens, statuary, fountains, etc. as you enter. The large building at the entry/exit point has all the usual garden needs/wants.

I really enjoy my visits...I can drive through, see all the new stuff, (each row of plants is long and narrow...about 3 containers wide, with spacing so you could walk between the rows to select the "perfect" plant if you wanted) or you can select quickly and be on your way. Each row has signs with pertinent info.

I know this wouldn't be feasible for many nurseries because of high land cost...but I thought the owner had really good ideas. His employees benefit too because of an automatic watering system and they can drive to where they need to work with the plants.

It's a beautiful site...surrounded by woods and just a most pleasurable nursery shopping experience. When you arrive home you still have energy and enthusiasm for planting all those new delights! josh

    Bookmark   July 16, 2004 at 10:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
spatialbean(N. Cal Zone8/9)

Hi Firehoney,

Thank you so much for asking this question. You are truly a caring person.

Bathrooms, big accessible bathrooms. Lots of places here in California now have a single bathroom for both sexes, that way they can use a single large space that will accomodate a wheelchair.

Chairs or benches for resting. Stores used to have chairs here and there in the past. I guess now they don't want anyone camping out so they don't want you to sit. But if you can rest you will shop more. Same with the potty. If you can go you won't race out and head for home, you will comfortably shop.

I have fibromyalgia, and I just can't carry things anymore. I don't have the arm strength or hand strength. I can't put things easily into my car or take them out. A nominal fee delivery service would be great.

Thanks again so much for asking.


    Bookmark   July 21, 2004 at 5:30AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ellen_(z5 NY)

Sorry I didn't see your question sooner. The biggest area that needs to be addressed is staff.
As I'm visually impaired, it really helps if the staff in a store, (gardening or whatever), are helpful and available. I can't select items on my own as I can't identify what they are on the shelves. Over the last few years I've bought more online and over the phone as I can get more individual help. Gardener's Supply in Vermont is super! They'll stay on the phone, explain how to use a product and walk me through instructions if an item needs to be put together. I don't have a garden center that close or transportation to get there so getting on the computer is easier and cheaper. Hire staff who are very knowledgeable, quick to answer questions and able to zero in on what a
person's disabilities and limitations are.
Forget walkways, get into explanations and helping the customer know how to use the product.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2004 at 9:14PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Are all poppy flowers illegal (used for drugs) ?
Hi, I recently bought a bunch of flower seed packets...
Hi, Everyone, My Mom needs to be careful with her neck,...
using tea bags around pots
hello. it is my first post here. Can I open old tea...
A tangent, perhaps - healthcare cost and the cost of water.
It just occurred to me as I am setting here staring...
Identify this
South African tree, please help identify it
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™