Creative, adaptive gardening can keep many active outdoors

Published Jul 16, 2017 at 9:00am

Adaptive gardening allows a person to do a task more easily or to do a task they could not do at all. 

“Gardening is a passion to me” said Doreen Greenstein of Cornell. “I hate to see people give it up.  If you have to get out and touch the soil, go do it.”

If you were already a gardener and had an accident or illness that caused a disability, you can return to this activity.

If you have arthritis, Multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, blind or if you have a wheelchair, walker, or a cane, if you have limited upper body strength or use of your arms, difficulty sitting, kneeling or bending or if you are young or old — you can garden!

Gardening with a disability means that a task in the garden to be completed one way by other gardeners need to be ‘adapted’ for others that have different capabilities.  To garden with a disability, a creative and adaptive task for the garden, within your ability, but never beyond.

The healing that is produced from gardening has been known for ages.

The ancient art of healing through gardening is now called horticulture therapy.

Gardening gives you hope and helps you to think about the future with so many adventures to explore in your garden.

There is a need for adaptive gardening wherever there is soil and people cannot get to it.  There are several easy to make tools for an easier grip or extended reach.

You can take needlepoint cloth, velcro, a piece of broom handle and a few screws and make a hoe adaptive for wheelchair or arthritic gardeners. By stabilizing the forearm, the tool can now be used.

If your grip is weak, try padding the handle of your garden tools with foam hot water pipe insulation and wrapping the handle with plastic tape. Use a type of velcro tape fastener to adjust the tightness of the grip support.

This will make the handles larger so the grasp will ease joints in the hands.

There are many long handled tools on the market for those of us who cannot bend or reach with shorter versions.

Nice knee pads and cushions are great to protect your joints, along with movable benches to sit near a bed to weed or plant

Raised beds and container gardens are the ‘in’ look.  Not only fashionable, but perfect for wheelchair and bad back gardeners.  

Garden construction books show attractive designs for combining seating and plant containers. Verticals or trellis gardening is another alternative.

There are examples of these methods at Parker Scripture Gardens called the ‘Trellis Garden’ at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County in Whitestown, a couple miles from Oriskany, Also known as the Farm and Home Building.

The adage goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention”.  If your necessity has led you to invent something, please share it with us to help others.