Gardening for the Elderly and Disabled: Raised Garden Beds
Raised garden beds are a wonderful way to enable elderly people and those with disabilities to garden.
A part from reducing the need to bend raised beds can offer:
- Better growing conditions than existing soil as there is opportunity to import quality growing mediums into a garden with poor soil conditions;
- Drainage can be improved in areas with clay soils (albeit water needs may increase);
- The edging along the raised beds can also be used as a seat (as shown in the above image. Note the edge needs to be wide enough and the correct height) .
Raising a garden to improve access is not a new concept. Over 40 years ago my grandmother had her favourite plants in a variety of terracotta pots which were perched on various tables. While her plants were accessible her garden took on a jumbled aesthetic – plus she was always re-potting and watering (pots are not great for water retention nor a plants root system).
Grandmother and the plants would have benefitted from both taller and wider planting beds. Nevertheless I think it is safe to assume she would not have entertained constructing raised beds and if she did, the cost would have been prohibitive. Her jumbled pots balancing on various makeshift tables were the best solution for her at the time.
New Generation of Raised Beds
Thankfully the benefits of raised planting beds have increased and product designers have recognised the need to rethink the way we garden. For a look at the various products on the market (and some of the problems with the designs to date) refer to a previous post on raised planting beds.
It is also possible to purchase timber recycled crates that can be delivered with, and without, soil and plants. They are available in Australia called Magic Square Gardens
There are a whole plethora of soft sided planter bags that make garden bed installation easy and cheap (however the bags tend to be no greater than knee height). Check out Garden Beet’s range of Patio Planters.
Vertical Gardening – No room on the ground?
If your garden is small and there is not the room for these larger raised planting bed options you may like to consider a small Vertical Garden Kit. A part from locating the plants up high you also make more room at ground level which may prove invaluable for wheelchair access.
There are various vertical garden products on the market. I find the most flexible option is the felted fabric wall planters. Simply attach to the wall at your preferred height, fill with soil and plant. Plus some designs can be used indoors and outdoors. Check out Woolly Pockets. The fabric wall planters are shown in the image above