Raised bed gardening for the disabled.
It is a fact of life that many of us will grow old and frail and become unable to carry out the tasks we were able to do all of our lives.
This includes gardening, which for keen gardeners is a tremendous blow. If forced to spend the rest of their days indoors staring at 4 walls day after day, theirhealth quickly deteriorates as their will to live saps their energy away.
Construct solidly built raised beds from bricks and concrete blocks that can support his weight if he needs to sit down while weeding or carrying out other necessary tasks in the garden, and build level concrete pathways between the beds so that he may walk without obstructions and in relative safety, or navigate his way through with a wheelchair if he is otherwise disabled.
A raised Garden Rockery
building a raised bed rockery
Raised Bed Gardening
How to build concrete raised bed gardens
You do not have to spend a fortune to have some decent and solidly-built raised beds.
Any old building blocks, whether new or second hand will do. You will just need the blocks, some cement, sand, a garden spade and a spirit level to construct them.
Mark out your area, and dig foundations for your blocks to ensure it is even. This can be done by digging a trench over your marked off perimeter, then pouring in liquid concrete. When it settles, your base should be level. Check with a spirit level.
Then lay the blocks in place and cement them as you go along. You can build the walls as high as you require.
Finishing the blocks off with a plaster coat is not strictly speaking necessary but it is more aesthetically pleasing on the eye.
The whole structure of a raised bed can then be painted if desired.
The next task will be to infill it with compost. If you did not remove the turf from the bottom before you constructed the raised bed, simply put down a layer of cardboard or old newspapers. Not only are items fully biodegradable, they will prevent weeds and grass from growing through.
Fill your new raised bed up to the very top with compost or soil taken from elsewhere in the garden. The level will settle slightly lower when it rains.
Then you are ready to plant.
In the picture here, rocks were added to the compost so that alpine and otherrockery plants could be planted, but it could well be that grandpa may prefer to grow vegetables or flowers. You can construct more than one raised bed.
Also you are not limited to building in a square or rectangular shape. Your raised bed can be any shape you choose or have the ability to design, but rectangular or square makes access easier for the disabled.
The pathways between your new raised beds will need to be levelled and either concreted or slabbed.
Care must be taken that the concrete slabs are laid exactly flat so that grandpa doesn't trip.
It is a good idea to prepare the ground before you lay your slabs by excavating a few inches of topsoil, and laying down layers of gravel to help prevent weed growth.
If on top of the gravel you apply a thin layer of concrete before you lay the slabs, you are unlikely to ever see weeds coming through the cracks on the slabs.
Slabs or a similar permanent surface is much better than grass, gravel or chippings which can become unusable by a wheelchair user in wet weather.
Materials to Construct Raised Bed
There are all types of materials that can be used to make raised beds, in addition to the many shapes and sizes they can be built in.
A good solidly constructed concrete raised bed is probably better for those with limited mobility as they provide a place to sit while gardening.
People in wheelchairs do not have this requirement, but they may find having to reach further to bypass the thick concrete seating base area to be an obstacle. In this case, it is important to construct a narrow-walled raised bed that is at just the right height for a wheelchair user.
Wooden and plastic structures fit this scenario very well.
The most important spect of raised bed gardening for the diabled is all round access. Maybe raised beds have been built or positioned against a wall which effectively prevents the wheelchair user having full access. There should be space all round the raised bed for the wheelchair user to navigate in safety.
Advantages of a Raised Bed Garden
The advantages for the disabled are obvious, in that they can now reach the plants and the soil so that they may work with them, but the raised bed garden is gaining popularity the world over for many other reasons.
Plants grow better in raised beds because they:
- Are warmer.
- Have better drainage.
- Have better soil suited to their requirements.
- Do not suffer from soil compaction
It is also easier to construct cloche-type structures over them in winter or early spring to protect young plants from frost and extend the growing season.
Raised Bed Gardening Books
Raised Beds at Amazon
Debby Bruck on March 16, 2013:
Izzy - Very, very good article. I popped over here from Twitter. Blessings, Debby
IzzyM (author) from UK on September 05, 2010:
Yes I like higher walls, it gives greater depth and protection for the plants. So long as it isn't too high for a wheelchair it should be fine :)
HandH on September 05, 2010:
I always recommend a higher wall to place the garden, I am from WV so the mountains make it more necessary but thanks for giving me another selling point. (if I can find a way to use it with out taking advantage of the elderly of course)
IzzyM (author) from UK on June 29, 2010:
They are even great for the lazy amongst us LOL
Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on June 29, 2010:
These are great even just for those of us with dodgy backs
IzzyM (author) from UK on June 27, 2010:
You're welcome :) I have another article on raised bed gardening too, but this one concentrates more on the disabled or elderly.
green tea-cher on June 27, 2010:
Hi Izzy! Great information on how to build raised bed gardens. They are such a great idea for the elderly, the disabled and even short people like me. With your permission I am linking your hub to mine entitled "Prevent Chronic Disease by Growing Relationships". This is a great fit for my hub. Thank-you for sharing.