Gardening In Raised Beds
Raised beds are a great way to garden and are suited for people of all abilities. Beds should be built so that people in wheelchairs can easily access them from all sides and can also easily reach into the middle of the beds. The most appropriate widths are 500mm for beds with access from one side only or double that for access from both sides (no more than 1.2m wide). Raised beds can be built as boxes and filled with soils and/or organic materials. Or they can be like tables i.e. a shallow box (say 30cm deep) on legs.
The most appropriate heights for raised beds:
- 600mm for use by wheelchair bound participants (but definitely no less than 450mm).
- 750–900mm for people that will use them whilst standing.
For a cheaper alternative you could also use barrels, large pots, tyres, old vegetable boxes and so on.
A collection of beds at different heights can be set up to cater for those with different disabilities. Someone working standing up and using garden equipment will need a raised bed of a different height to someone else who may have to work at wheelchair sitting level. Several manufacturers offer the same style of raised bed in different heights which can be adapted to varying needs of clients and also a taller bed can be used near a high fence to bring the plants closer to better light levels for growing and the taller beds can also provide some windbreak and shelter for lower raised beds in front.
There are tools to suit different purposes too with some speciality tool manufacturers designing hoes and forks to be used in a pulling action rather that a push action which can be difficult for some users. Look for smooth handles and also smooth edges to raised garden beds that will not cause cuts and injury, this is an important point to check with raised metal garden beds. Also raised garden beds and tools made from timber need to be well sanded and finished so they are smooth and will not cause splinters.
Hanging baskets and hanging pots lined up at suitable heights for easy access to suit users is another variation on the raised bed, with the planting and growing areas coming down to the correct height for the user to work with. These can be used out in the open and also in greenhouses and polyhouses. Vegetables, fruits and ornamentals can all be used in hanging baskets and pots, provided suitable varieties are chosen that meet the criteria for this type of container growing.
These are some short notes from our horticultural therapy course. Have you ever thought of helping people to enjoy a love of gardening?
If you would like to learn more about horticultural therapy, why not have a look at our 100 hour course – Horticultural Therapy.
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