A garden should be a place of relaxation, a place where people get together and a place that welcomes everyone. But what if it doesn’t accommodate everyone?  

Many of us don’t realise that the world around us can be pretty inaccessible for someone with mobility problems. Uneven paving or something as simple as a step can be a significant obstacle for someone in a wheelchair, so this is something to keep in mind when designing a garden. 

You might not have mobility issues, so you might be asking yourself why you would need an accessible garden. First, there is nothing wrong with future proofing; you never know; it may be the selling point for potential buyers. No one would say no to an accessible garden, but they would say no if you didn’t have an accessible garden and they needed one. 

By designing your garden with accessibility in mind, you’re opening it up for everyone to enjoy. Our Bury Landscape Gardeners have experience creating gardens for everyone’s needs, so we have put together some highlights of how to create a fully accessible garden.

Seamless pathways and patios; what you need to know!

For someone without mobility issues, walking across a slightly uneven patio would, most of the time, go unnoticed. However, when you are a wheelchair user or using a walking frame, stick or pushing a pram, you will be more vigilant to anything that might be in your way.

Making sure paths and patios are correctly and evenly installed is vital to ensure everyone can move around easily and safely. Choosing more oversized patio tiles minimises the number of seams between tiles and decreases the risks of tiles being uneven. If you have a lot of tiny tiles, the chance of some of them not aligning with each other is a lot higher than if you have bigger, more continuous paving. Our friends over at Sanderson Stone have a huge collection of paving slabs for you to choose between.

But it is not just about how the pathway is installed but also about which material you decide on. For example, gravel or chippings may not be the best choice to use as pathways as they do not provide a lot of grip, can be slippy under wheels, and hard to walk on for someone who may struggle on uneven surfaces. It would be best if you chose smooth paving that holds minimal water and does not have a slippery surface.

Alternatively, anti-glare paving might be an excellent solution, especially for those partially sighted or blind. If paving doesn’t align with your garden design ideas, you may want to consider decking instead. Generally, decking can be slippery for people who are unsteady on their feet, especially when the surface is wet. However, there are great options available that have integrated non-slip strips worked into the material to make it safer to walk on. Our Bury Landscape Gardeners can tell you more about the different pathways and patio types available and which options may be best suited for each level of mobility. 

Different garden levels: to have or not to have?

In our last article, we discussed adding another level to your garden. Our Landscapers in Bury will do this regularly as this is especially useful when you have a small space and want to make the most out of it; however, this may be more challenging when mobility is an issue. Split-level designs often mean steps leading up or down to another garden area. Whilst this is a great way to maximise the available space, it can also mean a considerable obstacle for someone struggling with the steps ahead. If mobility is a problem or may become a problem in the future, it may be best to avoid various levels in your garden. 

However, suppose different levels in your garden cannot be avoided. In that case, there are solutions to make these level changes more manageable, for example, by building a ramp or very shallow steps with hand railings depending on the level of accessibility required. Handrails are a great tool in making a garden accessible, especially when there are level changes, whilst also being easily incorporated into the garden’s design. There are various options of handrails, for example, wood, metal and rope. They ultimately all have the same function, but they can vary in design and what they bring to the space aesthetically. 

Making a garden accessible doesn’t mean you need to have metal ramps and clunky handrails installed in your garden. Our Bury Landscape Gardeners can make your garden look exceptional whilst keeping it completely accessible.

designing an accessible garden

Making sure all garden aspects are accessible 

We have talked a lot about the physical accessibility of gardens, but it is also essential to keep in mind the maintenance of it all. Let’s say a flower enthusiast used a wheelchair and loved spending their time in their garden. Our Bury Landscapers would ensure that all pathways and general garden design would be fully accessible, so there would be no hurdles for the person to overcome. However, the day-to-day maintenance might be complex if attributes from usual gardens were used; for example, standard flowerbeds may not be the best option. In those cases, raised flower beds and planters, as well as hassle-free hanging baskets within a reachable height, might be an excellent alternative for those that cannot kneel and maintain a flowerbed low to the ground. Suppose you are unsure about what planters, flowers or even vegetables may be best to align with your accessible garden plan. In that case, our Bury Gardeners can share their knowledge and develop a perfect design for you. 

Accessibility can still mean beauty

A garden should be enjoyed by everyone regardless of their physical limitations. Making your garden accessible for everyone may sound daunting at first, but it isn’t difficult if you put some thought into it. Many people hear the word accessibility and immediately think it cannot be aesthetically pleasing or in line with the character of their garden. However, that is not the case, and a carefully thought-out plan makes anything possible. Our Bury garden designers can create an exquisite design that is fully inclusive and yet completely seamless and beautiful. Get in touch with Bury Landscapes today to set up a consultation so we can start your journey to a more accessible garden.

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