Garden access

Depending on your current abilities, you might be looking at improving the access to your garden or other gardens you visit. Here are a few issues that you might want to consider depending on your situation.

Your mobility and abilities

If you are using a walking stick or crutch, consider looking at a walking stick or crutch with a shock-absorbing or pivoting ferrule that may help when walking on a range of surfaces such as grass, gravel or even sand. For further information, read our advice on ferrules or the Safe use of walking equipment.

Environment issues

Think about the paths you will be using; Are they even or cracked? This could lead to trips and falls and water may 'pool' leading to risks of slipping and may encourage weeds and moss to grow.

Steps may also need to be looked at to ensure they are safe. Check if they are worn down or too high. If the steps are too high, you might need to replace them with shallower steps, ensuring there is sufficient tread area for the feet or a larger landing area for use with a walking frame. Hand rails may be required; these greatly improve safety. If you have poor eye sight, you might want to provide contrast (such as a special tape or paint) on the edge of the steps.

Path tracks can provide a temporary or permanent option for a pedestrian or wheelchair user to access paths over gravel, snow and sand. If there is an incline you may need to include a ramp for wheelchair use.

Planning access to your garden in a wheelchair

You may decide to improve access to enjoyable areas of the garden, outdoor clothes drying facilities, routes between home and car, storage and refuse. Considerations may include; the views of the garden from inside your home, orientation to the sun and shelter in different types of weather. Easy access is probably the most important factor in determining whether spaces will actually be used (Shackell, A., & Walter, R., 2012).

Products that may help when taking part in gardening activities

  • Raised beds or raised containers
  • Handles and arm supports for attachments to gardening equipment
  • Kneeling stools and pads.

Information on possible funding

If accessing and using your garden has become difficult because of a disability, then you may be able to apply for a grant to have some changes made to enable you to enjoy the garden again. The Gardening for Disabled Trust may provide grants for people who need to have some work done in order to continue to use their garden. There is more information available on their website. You can also have minor works, such has ramps and rails installed through your local Social and Healthcare Team.

In some situations, you may be able to receive assistance with funding adaptations which includes the Disabled Facility grant (DFG). The DFG includes a clause 'have easier access to your garden or make access to your garden safe for you - your garden can include a yard, outhouse or other facility within the boundary of land attached to your dwelling' (Disability Rights UK, 2017). Your local authority may interpret this in a range of ways so contact them directly.

Further information

  • The Gardening for Disabled Trust website
  • Thrive - Thrive is a national charity. Its aim is to research, educate and promote the use and advantages of gardening for people with disabilities and to encourage well-being.
Advice last checked: 02 February 2018 Next check due: 02 February 2021

All advice is either supported by references (cited in the text) or is based upon peer reviewed professional opinion. Our advice is impartial and not influenced by sponsors or product suppliers listed on the site.
Conflict of interest statement