Accessible Gardening

National Gardening Week is the first full week of June, and it’s definitely something that I never thought that I would ever celebrate! When I moved into my home, there were beautiful gardens in both my front and back yards, but I quickly learned that gardens do not maintain themselves! The woman who owned my house before me spent hours upon hours gardening every day, and had no problem spending her days kneeling in the soil. I, on the other hand, happily live my life in my wheelchair, so climbing down to the ground to dig into the dirt just is not for me. Needless to say, my gorgeous gardens turned into jungles of weeds and I thought that gardening was an absolute nightmare! However, as years passed, I have found ways to make my yard look lovely and to make gardening fun and accessible to me! Here’s a few tips for wheelchair users who, like me, might be struggling with plants in the summertime:

There’s nothing wrong with potted plants.

At first, I thought that plants had to go into the ground to count as gardening, but that’s simply not true! I have potted tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil that are all growing and are all happy and healthy plants outside in their pots! As long as you get pots that are the right size to allow them to grow, that’s all you need! There’s no wrong way to garden, and potted gardening is just as good as ground gardening! Plus, you can move your pots for better sunlight or to save your plants from an unforeseeable frost!

Raised beds make gardening a breeze.

As a wheelchair user, I am absolutely in love with raised beds! You can buy raised beds in a variety of sizes and prices online or in stores. I just bought my sister a lovely raised bed that’s about 3 feet tall, 3 feet long, 1 foot wide, and 10 inches deep for $90 dollars at a big box store. I saw smaller ones online for cheaper. I have also seen people make their own raised beds. Raised beds are great for wheelchair users because it brings the garden to our level! 

Hanging plants are accessible and beautiful.

I used to think hanging plants were only for hooks on the front of your house, but now that I have a power wheelchair with iLevel® and I can reach so many different heights, I have become obsessed with hanging plants at different levels. I have beautiful flowers hanging from hooks in the front of my home and I have gotten some shepherds hooks at different heights to place in my front yard and backyard, so I can hang other potted plants. They look great and add a ton of visual fun! 

Trees and bushes are easy to maintain.

I’ve decided my gardens look nicer with some small trees and bushes in them, plus the taller things are easier for me to maintain because I can reach them. I have a beautiful hydrangea tree that has gorgeous blossoms and is about as tall as my house. It requires little maintenance from me, except an occasional trimming which, thankfully, I can do with iLevel. I also have some lovely perennial bushes that are effortless. Just a little watering and they’re good to go! 

Decorations are fun and impossible to kill! 

Lastly, what’s a garden without some gnomes? Or how about some flamingos? I love adding a few garden creatures for a pop of fun. Plus, they’re absolutely impossible to kill! I just plop them on the ground and call it “garden decor.” I always get tons of compliments on my non-living garden elements!

 About Stephanie Woodward: Stephanie is a brand ambassador for Quantum Rehab® and works as a disability rights activist. She has received many awards for helping communities become more accessible, as well as for her actions in fighting for the rights of disabled individuals as it relates to Medicaid and other support services. Click here to learn more about Stephanie.