Having the ability to plant your own flowers or plants and watch them grow is an activity many people enjoy. For those in a wheelchair, wheelchair gardening still can bring the same joy and sense of accomplishment as well as promote physical activity. Before you begin, it’s wise to read a few simple tips regarding accessible gardening, and you’ll need some wheelchair gardening tools before you begin. Read on to learn more about wheelchair gardening, wheelchair-accessible garden design, and what tools you’ll need to begin.
How Does Gardening Help People with Disabilities?
Not only can gardening in a wheelchair help with mental health, but there are also other ways that gardening helps people with disabilities. These include:
- Promotes physical activity. Gardening can provide a great physical outlet for those in a wheelchair. You’ll be pulling, digging, weeding, among other gardening tasks, which can help strengthen the upper body.
- Offers social contact. Gardening doesn’t have to be a solo activity—in fact. You can participate in gardening in places outside of the home, such as a community garden or gardening during adult day care. Gardening with others can provide much-needed social contact.
- Provides holistic treatment. According to Psychology Today, gardening is ideal as a holistic treatment. Wheelchair gardening can provide a sense of care, nurturing, and responsibility, helps you stay connected to nature, can increase serotonin and dopamine levels (neurotransmitters that can promote a sense of happiness), and helps you stay in the present moment.
- Helps with cognitive and motor skills. When gardening, using your hands and fingers is a must, so it can help with fine motor coordination and hand-eye coordination and helps keep the muscles and joints flexible.
How to Get Started with Wheelchair Gardening
There will be some accommodations needed to begin with wheelchair gardening. You may be wondering, “How do you make a garden accessible?” One of the first steps is having plans for wheelchair-accessible raised garden beds and the proper accessible gardening tools.
Before planning your garden, it’s important to know your limits. This means understanding the structure of your garden, your boundaries, and your capabilities. Regarding the structure of your garden, you’ll need to raise the garden beds. Ensure they are at the proper height, so you don’t have to bend or strain uncomfortably.
In addition to the beds being raised, they should also be narrow so that you can move easily as you work in your garden.
Another important factor to consider is wheelchair-accessible garden planters. Hanging baskets work well for wheelchair gardening—attach a pulley to the basket, allowing you to lower or raise the basket easily. In addition to your garden’s design, you’ll also want some special tools to get started.
What Tools Do You Need to Garden in Your Wheelchair?
You want to be able to garden peacefully and without bending or straining. Because of this, you’ll want to invest in some reaching aids and tools so that gardening is relaxing, not challenging. Look for long-handled tools that allow you to reach with no issues. Another tip is to attach Velcro straps around your arm that are connected to the pulley. This can help provide stability if your hands or arms are weakened. Long-handed tools also let you keep your hands close to your body instead of reaching or extending, which can help prevent injury.
There are also specific products suitable for wheelchair gardening, such as a trigger-release lance or a water and mist lance, which are attachments you place on the end of your hose. This allows your hose to extend further, allowing you to water your plants and flowers more easily. If you still find managing the hose cumbersome, attach a sprinkler to the end of the hose for constant watering and less straining.
There are also other tools to consider for gardening in a wheelchair, such as hand grips, which relieve stress on the hands and wrists; a flower cutter or gatherer, which helps you grip flower stems; and long-handled grippers and reachers so you can get to items out of reach.
Another tip is to leave some of your tools out at different places in the garden, so they’re easily accessible when you’re ready to work.
To learn more about wheelchair gardening and its benefits, or to learn more about mobility products that can be life-changing, such as power recliners or wheelchair ramps, contact Williams Lift Co. today. We want caregivers and their loved ones to live their best lives.