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Design Notes Disabled Gardens - my proper profession

GARDENS FOR THOSE WITH DISABILITIES
Design issues
Copyright Anne Luder, 2009-10

Define user group:
Physical , Mental Health, Learning disabilities, Age related


Define extra issues: Sensory Deprivation;  Mobility - W/Chair/Scooters Smell/Sight?

Possibly a mixture of some or all if in a public place

Public or Private Both need to be safe and hazard free but if in a public place – applicable laws

Site     Size or area, orientation, budget, existing usage/planting, adaption

Multi user   What is safe for wheelchairs hazard for blind vice versa.
Safe for L/D hazard for wheelchairs


Surfaces: W/C & Scooter/Framer users needs to be level or very slight slopes
Good – Paving Slabs, Pavers, Bonded Gravel, Concrete and Good Decking
Bad – Loose Gravel, Grass
Sensory Deprivation users benefit from touch and noise on Grass and Gravel also benefit from different surface to delineate path or patio edges
Mobile but challenged users have great problems with slippy grass and decking as well as badly laid hard surfaces
Conclusion;  A patterned interesting hard surface or pressed gravel is preferable possibly with allowance for water run off

Beds
:    If a combined usage may need both low and raised beds
Could still use low beds in Mobility/W.Chair garden but with very careful choice of planting: i.e. shrubs that are prunable from a sitting position and are not too low to cause balance problems or too high to reach even with special tools when sitting.

Beds should if possible be no more than 1m/3ft across and accessible from both sides.  In some cases slightly narrower and many in wheelchairs find planting a problem if stretching and they are short armed.  Usually they are 1.25m   (4ft)

Those who can perch on the edge to work like width to be at least 20cms (8.5ins) ie approx. double brick width or 1 length. Suggested materials:  Wood/Gravel Boards/Sleepers, Brick, Pavers on end, Concrete, Plastic
Construction of raised beds in area where blind and wheelchairs users to not have corners suggested rounded keyholes or horseshoe or semi circular beds

Also suggested raised beds that actually are not over deep soil wise but are disguised water retention units with taps at correct level for users

Other suggestions are stacked tractor tyres or shaped retaining wires stacked with stone/beach pebbles.  Pot display stands

Cheap but not long lasting beds can be made from filled dumpy bags or fixed greenhouse type shelving – aluminium or treated wood on which pots can be placed. Inverted large pots with corresponding pot placed on top (fixed for stability).

Accessibility: Wide paths for wheelchairs/scooters, if possible so 2 chairs could pass each other easily
Blind users would appreciate hand rails – problem round raised beds perhaps posts with thick rope attached with some slack for raising to work under/through
Also suggested audio guide to enable blind to orientate their position

Planting:   Shrubs of prunable height     A tree for shade – or automatic awning
   
For
L/D AND BLIND/MENTAL HEALTH especially, plants that invoke senses ie touch, texture, sound and smell – however with L/D in mind should not be irritants ie Rue or Euphorbia

Water All disabilities love the sound of water however, felt it needs to be raised and moving for safety as well as sound and keeping it oxygenated.

Other    Automatic watering, baskets on pulleys, lighting if applicable,

Accessible tool shed and/or glasshouse with shelving at appropriate heights – possible moving shelving
Easy access to water especially in G/house
Furniture of appropriate heights and transfer possibility, arms for leverage
Appropriate tools for the users
Possibly walkable wind chimes for some users and other noise creators (not naff) Bird feeders at accessible heights or system for filling
Sensory lighting for security especially in private use