A garden can be a great source of physical activity and mental stimulation. Still, if you have health issues or disabilities, you may need to adjust your garden before digging in the dirt. Read on to learn how to modify your garden, so it’s accessible and enjoyable.
Raised beds are an excellent way to garden for people who have limited mobility or can’t bend over—these need to be at a comfortable height for seniors and disabled individuals.
Add potting benches to allow people sitting in wheelchairs to reach over the bed without having to climb onto it. The bed height should be 24 inches for someone seated in a wheelchair and 30 inches for someone who will stand while gardening but has difficulty bending and reaching.
Gardening in containers is adaptable to indoor and outdoor gardening. Containers can be placed on patios or porches or along walkways. You can also move them so they get enough sunlight.
Climbing plants are fantastic in the garden and can add privacy or disguise a view. They can also provide visual interest year-round, depending on the selected plants. Make sure you are growing the right plants for the right height and can reach them at maturity. For example, consider growing up if you cannot bend down to harvest cucumbers.
A trellis can be placed in a raised bed, container, or the ground. Make sure plant stakes are not sharp and not a tripping hazard.
Some Plants suitable for vertical gardening are:
Clear and Even Paths
Ensure all paths and walkways are wide enough for someone in a wheelchair. Avoid any slopes or edges that may cause someone to slip or fall. Use a rake to level the soil, especially near the seating area. Be sure that paths have a slight slope so water can run off and prevent slipperiness. Brush hard surfaces with a stiff broom to remove moss.
Adaptive Gardening Tools
Gardening tools come in a variety of sizes for a variety of abilities and situations. If you have difficulty gripping tools, look for larger handled tools or consider adding or modifying existing tools.
These are some of the adaptive gardening tools you might find helpful:
- Kneeling benches or garden scooters can reach plants lower to the ground.
- Arm cuffs go around your forearm and attach to various tools to help extend reach and increase leverage and grip. The tools available for attachment are trowels, forks, and cultivators.
- Telescopic garden tools have an extendable reach, so you can rake or prune by lengthening the handles, even if you are in a wheelchair.
- Grabbers to pick up debris like a giant pair of tongs.
- Hand seed dispensers are simple and plastic for those who have difficulty gripping small objects.
Let us know how we can help make gardening more accessible for you. We create raised beds, seating areas, pathways, and patios depending on your unique needs. Contact us today!
If you’re looking to reduce your water consumption, there’s no better place to start than your own yard. Whether you’re planting annuals or putting in new shrubs and trees, there are plenty of drought-tolerant gardening tips you can follow to create a beautiful garden with less water.
Drought-Tolerant Plants for the Garden
The best plants for low-water gardens are xeric plants (from the Greek word meaning dry) which are hardy and do well in dry climates. These plants have developed over time to be drought tolerant and use less water than traditional garden varieties.
Arbutus unedo ‘Compacta’
Pacific Wax Myrtle
Sweet Potato Vine
Another option is drought-tolerant ground covers like creeping thyme or purple sage. These types of plants will not only make your garden look lovely but will help conserve water as well!
These plants will still need to be watered during dry spells for the first year or two until they become established. Once established, these water-thrifty plants will save you time.
Keep your soil in check with mulch
Compost and mulch are two of the easiest ways to retain moisture in your garden. A layer of mulch can cut down on water consumption by up to 50%. Compost is also an excellent addition to any soil because it will increase the amount of organic matter present in the soil. Organic matter increases the water-holding capacity of soils and improves nutrient availability. These two materials will both help you create a beautiful garden that won’t need much watering!
Plant closer together
Plant trees and shrubs closer together to provide shade and reduce the need for watering. Put large plants in the center of your garden, or place small plants around them to offer them some protection from strong winds.
Use Stones for Visual Interest
Using stones is one way to add interest to your garden. Stones are natural materials that are found in nature and can be used as focal points in your landscaping. They can also be used to create paths throughout the garden as well as act as barriers and even create shade around plants that need to be protected from the sun.
Dry Creek Beds
You may want to consider adding a dry creek bed to your drought-tolerant landscape. A dry creek bed is a type of garden design that mimics the natural environment by including rock or gravel as pathways and raised beds where plants can be planted.
Install a Water Feature
Installing a fountain in your drought-tolerant garden can actually help reduce water consumption. Typically fountains use about 3 gallons of water per hour. A typical backyard fountain can use up to 300 gallons of water per day. If you are using an electric pump then the cost is more as well. An aerating fountain only uses 3-5 gallons of water per hour. This type of fountain recycles the same amount of water over and over again without ever recharging the reservoir tank with new water.
Incorporating some traditional elements of Japanese gardening into your garden space can help promote calmness and tranquility in your daily life. Many elements of Japanese garden design can help you achieve peace and relaxation.
Japanese gardens can contain zen gardens, statuary, water features, lighting, and more. Pick your spot with an appropriate space for the garden size you want to create. Think about focal points like fountains or statues in strategic locations to draw the eye or act as transitional areas from one area of interest to another part of the garden.
Plants for the Japanese Garden
Trees in Japanese garden design are usually pruned into shapes that reveal their architectural form. Ponderosa pine, Thuja plicata, Rocky Mountain juniper, and of course Japanese Maples are just some of the trees that work well in a Japanese garden design. Suitable shrubs for this type of garden include Oregon boxwood, witch hazel, and hydrangea. Some flowers can be used as a ground cover or to create a border around your garden; these include lily-of-the-valley vine, azaleas, and trilliums. Consider using an assortment of sedums and irises as they thrive in shade environments.
materials also include bamboo plants because bamboo symbolizes strength and peace in Japanese culture. It is important to use these elements because they help to create tranquility within the space by helping people relax through various senses including touch.
Bamboo fencing can help create garden rooms and block unsightly views. If you plant bamboo, only choose a clumping variety, so it doesn’t get out of control and become invasive.
All elements blend in a uniquely Asian style in the Japanese garden. Japanese blood grass, stone pagoda lantern, and moss-covered rocks can surround a water feature like a fountain or a pond.
This Japanese Zen garden design features raked gravel or sand around stones, representing ripples of waves around islands. This can be done in a large or small format. It is easy to maintain and can promote contemplative thought.
Stones and Statuary
Stone lanterns shaped as zen pagodas or other Japanese symbols can add Japanese style to a small garden. Rocks are key components of this style of garden because they represent the relationship between earth and water, which is an important part of Japanese culture.
Let us know how we can help incorporate elements of Japanese garden design into your landscape. Contact Us Today!
If you love attracting hummingbirds to your garden, why not consider creating a garden for them? Hummingbirds are amazing to watch and fun to attract to your outdoor space.
There are a few key elements to keep in mind when attracting these winged beauties to your landscape.
Eliminate Pesticides and Add Favorite Plants
To make your yard safe and inviting to these charming birds, eliminate pesticides and add native and hummingbird-friendly plants and insect-pollinated flowers. Our winged friends can eat insects in midair, so a pesticide-free and healthy garden is essential.
Hummingbirds prefer to nest near a ready supply of nectar and other food. You can encourage them to nest in your yard by maintaining shrubs and small deciduous trees for a protected place to rest and obtain cover.
The best way to create a hummingbird garden is to provide a wide variety of plants that produce nectar-rich flowers that are bright in color and tubular in shape. This is the fun part of the hummingbird garden!
Hummingbirds are attracted to bright red and orange flowers but will visit flowers in other hues after they find out about your garden. The following are a few plants that hummingbirds like.
- Red Hot Poker
- Flowering Currant
Water for Hummingbirds
Along with a nectar source, hummingbirds also like a supply of water. Their baths can be brightly colored and shallow, featuring a mister, dripper, or even a fountain.
Traditional bird baths tend to be too large for their tiny bodies. As a result, you’ll want to choose shallower bird baths when trying to attract hummingbirds to your garden. If you’d like to use a regular bird bath, you can add gravel or rocks to the bottom of the bird bath to create a shallow area.
When adding a mister, whether connected to your bird bath or not, try to position it next to a plant with leaves. Hummingbirds will rub their bodies against wet leaves to bathe.
Native plants are always a great addition to the landscape. They require less water and create shelter and food for wildlife while looking good at the same time.
Gardening with native plants can create a healthier and more beneficial environment for everyone.
Landscaping choices affect the populations of birds and the insects they need to survive. If your garden has no native plants, it becomes an ecological desert for pollinating insects that are essential to our survival.
Native plants are adapted to our environment, so keeping them alive year-round may not be as difficult in the long term as more cultivated plants.
Here are some of the top native plant picks for our area:
Pacific Bleeding Heart (Dicentra formosa)
Pacific bleeding heart, of course, has pink heart-shaped blooms. This native plant grows easily. Hummingbirds are attracted to the flowers. The leaves emerge from the ground from February to March, and it starts to bloom in late March. It grows up to 2 ft. It can spread and does well in moist shade.
Showy Milkweed (Asclepsias speciosa)
Showy milkweed is a unique addition to any landscape. It has round pink flowers in a ball shape that attract pollinators. Showy milkweed does best in the open sun with moist, fertile soils and low competition from taller plants.
Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum)
Sword fern has toothed leaves and brown spores underneath. It does well in the sun or shade. Most plants reach 4 – 6 ft. Fiddleheads or small fronds emerge in the spring. It is used as a ground cover and can adapt to a wide range of soils and conditions. The Sword Fern can also prevent erosion by stabilizing soils in hilly areas.
Western trillium (Trillium ovatum)
This spring perennial flower grows to about 1- 1.5 ft. It can grow in partial shade to full sun and tolerates wet soil. The flowers go from white to pink as they fade. Wildlife enjoys eating the seeds.
Common Camas (Camassia quamash)
Camas is a well-known native flower that attracts pollinators like butterflies and hummingbirds in the spring. The bulbs are planted in the fall. Camas is drought tolerant and does best in full sun. These beautiful plants grow 8 to 28 inches tall and 6 inches wide.
Broadleaf Lupine (Lupinus latifolius)
This top-notch, drought-tolerant evergreen perennial has blue-violet flowers in spring. Lupines are perfect for the back edge of a bed. These plants can grow between 2 – 3 feet tall and up to 3 feet wide. Lupines grow best in full sun and well-drained soil.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Yarrow is a low-maintenance native herb that benefits the ecosystem. It has small, flat-topped heads of flowers at the tops of the stems that attract native bees and other pollinators. Yarrow is drought tolerant and likes the full sun. They are also great as a cut flower. These plants grow up to 3 feet wide and 2 feet across.
If you are looking for a way to use fewer pesticides, less water, and create shelter and food for wildlife, then native shrubs may be a great addition to your garden.
Some Benefits of Native Shrubs
- Native shrubs are adapted to our environment. This means keeping them alive year-round may not be as difficult in the long term as more cultivated plants.
- They don’t require as much water and can also reduce rainwater runoff and even erosion in the landscape.
- They provide nectar, pollen, and seeds that serve as food for pollinators and other animals.
- They conserve water because they are adapted to our area.
- They do not require fertilizers and require fewer pesticides than lawns.
- Native plants do not require mowing. Excessive carbon is created by lawnmowers and other gas-powered equipment and can contribute to global warming. These plants actually remove carbon from the air.
- Native plants provide shelter and food for wildlife.
Some Top Native Shrubs for the Pacific Northwest:
Red-flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum)
This shrub really brightens up your garden in early spring. It is a favorite of hummingbirds. Other birds also enjoy the berries, but they are non-edible to humans. Red-flowering Currant grows upright to between 3 – 9 ft. tall.
Oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor)
Oceanspray has cascading, creamy-white flower clusters and an arching habit. It is also known as Ironwood due to the strength of its wood. It can range from 2- 20 ft. tall. Oceanspray is drought tolerant and likes the sun. It blooms in June and July.
Tall Oregon Grape (Berberis aquifolium)
Oregon Grape, the state flower of Oregon, has attractive foliage, yellow flowers, and blue “grapes.” It can be used as a hedge plant and is evergreen. Oregon Grape can get up to 6 ft. tall and 3 ft. wide.
Red-osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea or Cornus stolonifera)
This fast-growing shrub has year-round interest. Its red twigs are pretty, followed by leaves of reddish burgundy. The white flowers are sometimes present with the white berries. Birds are attracted to Red-osier Dogwood. It likes fairly wet soil and can grow in full sun from 3 – 18 ft. tall.
Pacific Ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus)
This native shrub has year-round interest. Pacific Ninebark has glossy leaves and puffy white flowers that turn red in the fall and then to yellow seeds. The leaves turn reddish-brown. In the winter, the branches have peeling reddish-colored bark. This shrub can be planted in the sun or shade. It grows 10-15 ft. tall and is attractive to butterflies.
Indian Plum (Oemleria cerasiformis)
The Indian Plum is attractive to birds such as cedar waxwings and is also eaten by mammals. It grows as a multi-stemmed shrub to between 5 – 20 ft. tall. You need male and female plants for fruit. The bittersweet small fruit ripens in the fall and can provide winter feed for birds and other wildlife. It is one of the first shrubs to flower in the spring (February). It attracts bees and flies as pollinators.
Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii)
Mock Orange has white fragrant flowers in the summer. A hardy shrub, it can be planted in full sun or part shade. Birds are attracted to this shrub, which can also be used as a hedge plant. The flowers attract moths and other pollinators. It grows from 6- 15 ft. tall.
Kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
This native evergreen shrub not only has a fun name but is also attractive to birds and insects. Kinnikinnick is low maintenance and has pink hanging bell-shaped flowers that bloom in the spring. The red berries appear from July and last through winter. This plant prefers sun and well-drained soil but can also tolerate some shade and soil variation. Kinnikinnick is used as a groundcover and grows up to 3 ft. wide.
Salal (Gaultheria shallon)
Salal is also known as Oregon wintergreen and is an evergreen native shrub. Salal can grow to over 6 ft tall in the shade and 3 ft. in the sun. It has urn-shaped flowers that are white to pink in color and bloom in April and May. The edible (but mealy), dark-purple berries ripen from July to September. As a common forest understory shrub deer and elk eat the leaves mostly in winter. The berries are eaten by birds and squirrels and the flowers attract hummingbirds.
At Frontier Landscaping we can help you design and install a native plant garden or incorporate more native plants into your existing landscape. Give us a call for a free consultation at (360) 574-8979.