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Make Your Garden Accessible with These Adaptive Gardening Solutions

Adaptive Gardening Solutions

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

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.

Adaptive Gardening Solutions

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.

Containers

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.

Vertical Gardening

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:

  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Squash
  • Clematis
  • Jasmine
  • Rose

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!

Creating a Drought-Tolerant Garden

Creating a Drought-Tolerant Garden

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.

Plants for the Drought-Tolerant 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.

Trees
Deodar Cedar
Norway Spruce
Smoke Tree

Shrubs
Arbutus unedo ‘Compacta’
Ceanothus
Mugo Pine
Pacific Wax Myrtle

Perennials
Lavender
Rosemary
Echinacea
Hebe
Sweet Potato Vine
Fountain Grass
Daylilies

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!

Creating a Drought-Tolerant GardenPlant 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.

Japanese Garden Design

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.

Bamboo

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.

Water Features

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.

Zen Style

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!

Create a Hummingbird Garden

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.

  • Columbine
  • Lupine
  • Phlox
  • Red Hot Poker
  • Honeysuckle
  • Salvia
  • Flowering Currant
  • Crocosmia
  • Petunia
  • Monarda
  • Abutilons
  • Penstemons
  • Fuchsia

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.

Is A Rain Garden Right For You?

this post was updated March 7, 2020
A rain garden is a sunked garden bed that collects and treats stormwater runoff from rooftops, driveways, sidewalks, parking lots, and streets.

Rain gardens are growing in popularity as drainage solutions for environmentally-conscious property owners. These carefully-designed landscapes add more than beauty to their surroundings. They are proven to have a significant impact in reducing the flow of contaminated water from urban areas to wetlands, streams, lakes, and other natural waterways.

Installing a rain garden is a powerful way to directly contribute a positive impact on the environment surrounding your home or business.

Why Do Rain Gardens Matter?

As communities grow and develop, buildings, roads, and rooftops replace native habitats. During times of precipitation, the original flow of water through the enviroscape is disturbed. Instead of being naturally filtered through pre-existing forests and soil, stormwater now flows at a high rate over hard surfaces and carries man-made pollutants with it. Erosion and increased flooding become problematic.

Additionally, the higher flow rate of water and contaminants that result from development cause real problems for regional aquatic life and water resources. However, rain gardens offer an exciting array of solutions.

  • Slow erosion and alleviate flooding
  • Decrease pollution and waste
  • Clean runoff naturally
  • Reduce the workload for wastewater facilities
  • Can be created in public and private spaces of any shape and size, including businesses, residences, or public spaces

What Is A Rain Garden?

Rain gardens are bowl-shaped depressions in a landscape that collect and clean rainwater runoff from hard surfaces nearby, like driveways, roofs, parking areas, and patios.

They are designed with special soil mixes that allow speedy absorption of water — usually a combination of sand, topsoil, and compost. This amended soil filters runoff and also supports a variety of plant growth.

Note: Rain gardens are not permanent ponds. They are sized to allow temporary pooling after rain. In a well-designed garden, all water passes through very quickly, typically from one to two hours (maximum of one to two days) after a storm. This prevents stagnation and mosquitoes.

Rain garden drainage solution WSU Extension

Photo: WSU Extension

There are a number of ways water can be diverted to a rain garden through a landscape. It may be that one approach works well for a back yard/patio area, but a different one is more effective for dealing with runoff issues in the front.

Design Features of a Rain Garden

Soil

Soil is where it all begins. Reworking the ground to provide the right blend of soil, sand, and compost is critical to having a healthy rain garden. Absorption, drainage, and filtration all rests on getting this foundation prepared correctly.

Plantings

There are three planting zones in a rain garden:

Zone 1 The wettest area, at the bottom of the rain garden. Important to install plants in this zone that can handle “wet feet” for several hours at a time.

Zone 2 The sloped sides of the garden, which may become wet from time to time. These plants provide stability and prevent erosion.

Zone 3 The perimeter of the rain garden,  with the driest soil.

Since rain garden design is based on earth-friendly practice, using native plantings to fill out the three zones makes a lot of sense. Native plants create a nourishing habitat for local wildlife, birds, butterflies, and other important pollinators.

Rain Garden Planting Zones Infographic - Washington State Department of Ecology

Photo: Washington State Department of Ecology

“Plants and soil work together in the rain garden. The plant roots and soil organisms build soil structure, create channels and pores to soak up and filter water, and improve nutrient and oxygen availability necessary to support an abundance of life. While plants help the rain garden absorb stormwater, they also create an attractive landscape for your yard and neighborhood.” — WSU Extension, Rain Garden Handbook for Western WA

How to Know If A Rain Garden Is Right For You

A rain garden may be a good fit for you if you answer “yes” to the following questions:

  • Do you want to improve the landscaping and appearance of your property?
  • Would you like to directly reduce the amount of pollutants reaching groundwater and storm drains in your community (as well as wetlands, streams, and other natural waters)?
  • Would you like to reduce flooding, prevent sewer overflows, and erosion in streams by absorbing runoff from hard surfaces?
  • Is providing habitat for beneficial insects and birds important to you?
  • Would you like to be responsible for recharging local groundwater by increasing the amount of water that soaks into the ground on your property

Rain garden in neighborhood settings

Let’s Get To Work

Frontier Landscaping offers professional expertise and support for residential and commercial clients committed to environmentally-conscious landscaping. While the best time for testing soil drainage and groundwater levels is in late winter months, we are available to walk you through the planning process for a rain garden at any time of year:

  • Site assessment & testing
  • Garden location
  • Soil amendment & excavation
  • Planting requirements
  • Design aesthetic
  • Maintenance goals
  • Compliance with city/county regulations
  • Long-term success

Call (360) 574-8979 or contact us to get started on your path to a cleaner, greener future.
Additional Reading: Washington State Extension Rain Garden Guide

7 Design Elements of a Healing Garden

sanctuary garden entrance with decorative gate

 

 

Did you know that interacting with nature provides healing benefits to your body and mind? It’s true. Research has shown that within minutes of moving outside, positive changes occur in the body, such as lower blood pressure, decreased heart rate, reduced stress, and improved mood.

 

A recent community project at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center has inspired us to revisit the specific elements that can bring a sense of rest and healing to a home landscape. Having a place to unwind, relax, and recharge is a gift, especially if you live a busy life on the go.

 

The Sanctuary Garden, by Christopher and Tricia McDowell, highlights seven design elements of a peaceful space. Whether it’s for just one corner in the yard or a whole property transformation, using these strategies makes it easy to refresh yourself with restful time outdoors.

 

Enhance Your Garden Entrance

 

Use a naturally-styled pathway, hedge, steps, or fence to make entering the sanctuary feel special. This boundary can be soft or firm, depending on the level of privacy desired.

 

natural hardscapes pathways English garden style

 

Use Soothing Waters

 

A water feature doesn’t have to be elaborate to evoke a relaxing feel. Even a simple rock bubbler provides pleasing sounds and visual appeal. For larger spaces, a pond or waterfall puts nature’s beauty just steps away from your door.

 

 

Color Creatively

 

Will you be spending time in your sanctuary in the early mornings or evenings? Use low-wattage or LED lighting to set off plants and decorative features to their best advantage when natural light is low. Create beautiful shadows and draw attention to subtle colors and textures of your flowers and plants with discreetly placed lights.

 

low voltage lighting LED lighting outdoor landscape

 

Provide a Resting Place

 

Whether it’s a single bench or a suite of comfortable garden furniture, pick a spot or two that invites visitors to sit down and stay a while. Consider adding an outdoor bookshelf or blanket box to make it easy to kick back and relax.

 

 

Mimic Mother Nature

 

There’s no better guide to design than Mother Nature for a sanctuary garden. Use natural materials in combination: rocks and boulders, ornamental grasses, wood, shrubs, and flowers. Have a favorite hiking spot or viewpoint? Bring a few elements home with you. You might pair trees and wildflowers, boulders and water, or rocks and ferns to create the feel you love.

 

natural water feature landscape installation

 

Add Pleasure With Garden Art

 

Accent the natural beauty of your space with an art piece that enhances the mood you’d like to set. Consider colorful ceramic pots, a wind-powered sculpture, or a playful statue to complement the style of your home and continue it in the sanctuary.

 

glazed ceramic pot water fountain planter

 

Invite Beautiful Visitors

 

Provide habitat and features to attract birds and butterflies. Using native plants often pays rewards here, as they are conditioned to thrive in the local environment and offer a suitable home to your neighborhood birds. Add a birdbath or feeder to encourage visits from your favorites.

 

element of a healng garden butterfly on plant

 

 

Not sure what to plant? Talk to our landscaping team. We have decades of local experience and will give you our best tips for plant materials that fit your level of interest and design aesthetic.

Following two, three, or all seven of the design principles above will bring you closer to having your own healing sanctuary. The Frontier Landscaping team would be happy to talk to you about the vision you have and how to effectively make it a reality.

“Getting away from it all” might be a lot closer than you think! Call (360) 574-8979 or send us an email to arrange a consultation today.