Gardening can be a logistical nightmare for those with disabilities, however gardening can be a rewarding pastime and can help with rehabilitation and building strength. Chartwell Insurance, a completely independent insurance broker that offers a specialist, caring service for disabled customers, has looked at some of the best gardening aids, tips and organisations to help less abled gardening enthusiasts.
The layout of the garden is very important, especially for wheelchair users. Paths need to be wide enough for the wheelchair and have places where it can be easily manoeuvred. Non-slip coatings are available for paths which can prevent slips and trips. The website http://www.flowerpotman.com/disabledgardening provides some things that should be considered when designing your garden.
Making flower beds narrower prevents having to over-stretch and reduces the amount of digging required. Raising flower beds or planting in containers can make for easier access and maintenance.
The Gardening for the Disabled Trust (gardeningfordisabledtrust.org.uk) provides grants for those who need their garden adapted in order that they can continue to garden despite disabilities or advancing illnesses.
As well as planning the layout of your garden it is important to plan your gardening. By getting tools out and ready before you begin it can save trips to and from the shed. It is also important to schedule in breaks, and can be useful to make sure there are seating areas throughout the garden in case you require a rest. Warming up with simple stretches before you begin can help prevent injury and strain.
It is important to have the right tools for the job. Thrive’s website www.carryongardening.org.uk provides tips on specific areas as well as some recommended tools to make the jobs easier. The website also has tips and information tailored to specific disabilities. There are so many versions of gardening tools available including light-weight ones, tools with longer or shorter handles, and tools that have better grips. The team at Chartwell particularly like Peta Easi-Grip garden tools (www.peta-uk.com), which keep the hand and wrist at a natural angle to prevent strains and blisters. They can also be used with a wrist cuff.
Keeping paths and the garden clear not only makes the most of your hard work but can prevent accidents. Tools such as the Darlac (www.darlac.com) grab-n-lift makes clearing leaves and debris quick and efficient.
Traditional lawnmowers can be heavy and difficult to use for those with disabilities. There are alternatives available. Robotic lawnmowers such as Robomow (www.robomow.com) take the strain by automatically cutting the lawn. Flymo’s Mow N Vac (Hovervac 280) is a lightweight lawnmower that can be operated with one hand.
There are many charities and organisations that use gardening as a therapeutic tool for those with disabilities, such as Horticap (www.horticap.org) and Thrive (www.thrive.org.uk). Gardening for the disabled can provide a focus for those going through difficult times and can provide a way of meeting new people.