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Planning Retirement Online

Gardening for the disabled & less agile

                            December   2007


Gardening for the disabled and the less agile.

Health, Well-being and Social Inclusion: Therapeutic Horticulture in the UK

Our bodies become less supple as we age and our strength diminishes, so we need to adapt our gardens and gardening habits to enable us to meet our changing circumstances and special needs. For some people with disabilities, gardening will always have been a challenge and I hope that I can give everyone some useful hints here.  

When we moved to our present house I was very mindful of my own advancing years and the need to `wind down` a little, and with this in mind I planned our large garden for easy maintenance. I created and planted some raised borders that could be worked on without too much bending, and we have ramps instead of steps, which gives easy access for wheelbarrows, the lawn mower and wheelchair-bound visitors. The borders are filled with evergreen shrubs, trees and plants, that are all chosen for their ease of maintenance, and mulched with bark or compost to keep the weeds down.  All paths and paved areas are wide and non slip and it's as near as I can get to an easy maintenance garden.

If my husband had his way he would replace the lawn with concrete and paint it green, with some artificial plants dotted about! 

I could fill several pages with information about this subject, but will highlight some helpful hints and websites below:

  • Replace lawn with a solid surface such as pavers. Gravel is not wheelchair friendly or good for the balance

  • Make ramps rather than steps, including entrances and exit points.

  • Raised flower beds are easier to work on from a wheelchair or if movement is difficult

  • Plant easy care plants such as evergreens, which require little or no maintenance and look good all year round

  • Make a shady area that is under cover for protection from the sun or wind

  • More help from these websites below:

  • Using a mulch on borders will suppress weeds and conserve moisture, reducing the need for watering

  • the national horticultural charity that uses gardening to improve the lives of disabled, disadvantaged and older people. 

  • Finally, enquire with your local authority to see if there are any grants or help available. Often there are groups of volunteers willing to help out. 

  •  for specialised gardening tools and equipment. A whole range of gardening tools with secure on-line ordering and shipping worldwide.

Amazon book - Gardens of the National Trust. When the National Trust decided to take on the care of gardens, the aim was that these would be the very best of their kind in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Trust now has the finest collection of gardens ever assembled under one ownership..

Volunteering with the National Trust

Volunteers are active in all parts of the National Trust, from the new central office in Swindon to the summits of Snowdonia and Divis Mountain near Belfast.

View their latest opportunities, or find out more about the kind of roles and different places you can volunteer:

Still with the National Trust, some of the most visited National Trust properties are now holding regular farmers' and food markets.  Click here for details  and dates.



The Yellow Book: NGS Gardens Open for CharityRHS gardens

Their four flagship gardens not only provide year-round interest and offer a wide range of courses, talks and demonstrations, they also demonstrate the best gardening practices, new techniques and exciting new plants to try in your garden.

Or go to their website for a diary of all other events at:-


RHS Flower Shows 2007


Tickets for RHS members

Privilege rate tickets are available for RHS members to all RHS shows, but tickets must be booked in advance. Click on the individual show links below for further information.
RHS members are not charged a booking fee for tickets purchased except for advanced tickets to the Malvern shows. To find out how to become an RHS member click here


Do you take advantage of the BBC Gardening website for information? I find it a valuable source of information, for up to date legislation, countryside matters and useful information such as plant pests and diseases, which saves me ploughing through all my gardening books, with the knowledge that their information is bang up to date...


Thompson & Morgan LogoThompson & Morgan 


Visit where full information is available on their product varieties and orders can be taken on-line.  Have a look to see what is new and any special seasonal offers


Some places to visit... 



Visit the Eden Project




The living theatre of plants and people
The Eden Project is a gateway into the world of plants and people. A meeting place for all to discover how we depend on plants and how we can help to manage and conserve them for our mutual survival.


Kew Gardens two locations:-

Tel: 020 8332 5655 (24 hr)
Fax: 020 8332 5197

Royal Botanic Gardens

Tel: 01444 894066 (24 hr)
Fax: 01444 894069

Royal Botanic Gardens
Wakehurst Place
Nr Haywards Heath
West Sussex
RH17 6TN


The National Botanic Gardens of Scotland comprise:

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Scotland's Premier Garden

Benmore Botanic Garden, Argyll
Argyll's Magnificent Mountainside Garden

Dawyck Botanic Garden, Borders
Wonderful Woodland Garden

Logan Botanic Garden, Galloway
Scotland's Most Exotic Garden

The National Botanic Garden of WalesThe National Botanic Garden of Wales

The star attraction here is the 91 metre long domed glasshouse, that houses landscapes normally found in the Mediterranean. This would be a super place to visit on a chilly day...



Some websites of interest to gardeners:-


Carry on Gardening - The easier gardening web site from ThriveGardening is an important part of many people's lives. You don't have to give up gardening because of accident or illness, the onset of disability or the problems associated with growing older. The information on their website is designed to provide you with the information to Carry on Gardening.

Carry on Gardening was initiated by the horticultural charity Thrive and is funded by the National Lottery Charities Board.  It brings together information on easy ways of gardening gathered over 23 years by Thrive and research carried out since the early 1970s by Mary Marlborough Centre, Oxford, on tools and equipment for disabled and older people. 




Useful reading:-

"The Yellow Book" contains information of all Gardens of England and Wales open for charity, and can be bought priced ?5 from National Gardens Scheme

National Trust Gardens Handbook is ?6.99 and the new edition is out in May  Telephone 01394 389 950 or see their website

Amazon book - A year at Kew  Amazon book - Gardens Through Time: 200 Years of the English Garden Amazon book - RHS Plants for Places: 1000 Tried and Tested Plants for Every Soil, Site and Usage (RHS) Amazon book - RHS Encyclopedia of Gardening: RHS Bi-centennial Edition (Royal Horticultural Society)
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