Designing a Summer Garden For Children With Disabilities

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For most people, gardening is a highlight of the summer season. But for persons with disabilities, particularly children, this lovely practice may be out of reach.

Whether you have a child or a special loved one in your life, you understand just how deep their need is to feel part of something bigger. After all, any child can be a gardener in the right environment, and they just need someone in their life to take the first step.

Our littlest citizens deserve all that the summer offers – regardless of their abilities. This  includes the art of watching green things grow and watching themselves grow in the process.

Here’s a simple plan for crafting a summer garden for children with disabilities – including designs, building materials, and funding for the space of their dreams.

Designing the Garden

As you begin dreaming about a growing space for differently abled children, walk through the many considerations that may present a challenge.

  • If your child uses a wheelchair, you’ll want to consider paved spaces with seamless walkways that are simple and easy to access.

  • Children on the autism spectrum may enjoy structured and safe spaces surrounded by fencing and privacy barriers.

  • Physical impairments in children often necessitate specific flower arrangements with plenty of places to sit or rest.

Think through these factors with at least one or two other people, whether they be friends, family members, or even your child. Your combined efforts will create a garden that is as inclusive and accessible as possible.

Building the Garden

With finalized blueprints in tow, it will be time to start building your adaptive garden layout. Gather a few loved ones to help out, and give your child a task to complete that will make them feel included.

As you begin, keep these concepts in mind. 

Focus on Raised Beds

Raised beds aren’t just better for your plants – they’re much more accessible to children with special needs. Scraping wood from pallets is a good start, especially since many of them are free of charge.

The Five Senses are Key

Choose to purchase plants that cater to each of the five senses: sight, touch, taste, smell, and sound.

Some suggestions include:

Remember that you should never plant anything that could harm your child. Steer clear of roses, cacti, or plants that may cause allergic reactions.

Choose Safe Materials

Safety is critical in an adaptive garden setting. Although hard materials like concrete and gravel may be required, opt for safe materials that reduce your child’s accident risk.

  • Soft sand and turf are great for cushioning falls

  • Avoid rocks and other metal finishes wherever possible

  • Use rubber mulching rather than wood for a safer yar

If possible, cnsider installing a privacy fence to keep your child safe and secure. Want to go the extra mile? Establish a natural privacy barrier with the help of boxwoods, arborvitae, or Cyprus trees.

Funding the Garden

As you may imagine, creating adaptive gardens for children isn’t cheap. This is one of the number one reasons why differently abled summer gardens are never built, deterring even the most passionate of us from taking the first step.

Thankfully, some funding opportunities available may close the gap between pipe dream and reality.

  • The Disabled Facilities Grant is available to fund specific adaptions if you’re located in the UK.

  • Money from local organizations such as Lion’s Club or Rotary groups can help you secure materials, special equipment, and adaptive plants.

  • Local churches and places of worship may be willing to provide a grant for your adaptive summer garden.

  • Crowdfunding is a wonderful opportunity built on the power of the internet. Try GoFundMe, GoGetFunding, or even a Facebook fundraising campaign.

Above all, don’t be afraid to put your voice out there. Many more people would like to help than you may think.

Refine and Adapt the Garden

Rome wasn’t built in a day – and neither are adaptive garden beds. 

No matter your gardening situation, the best solution is to start small. Add a little at a time to your adaptive space, and keep an eye on what works (and what doesn’t). Remember: as your child’s needs change, so must your garden.

The task you are about to undertake may be a lengthy one. However, the joy you will bring to children with disabilities is far, far worth it. 

And with some time, money, and a little effort, you’ll be one step closer to making that happen.

Tags: Activities for Kids, gardening, Living with a Disability

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Written By

Meagan Shelley

Meagan is a professional writer in VA who specializes in content marketing. See Full Bio

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