If you are elderly, disabled or a wheelchair user, these
simple garden design changes can make gardening easier and enjoyable.
Paths wide enough to take a wheelchair with places to
turn or two people walking side by side,
Gradual corners, handrails and gradual slopes are essential for
both people with restricted movement and wheelchair gardeners.
Pathway lighting and spotlights around the raised beds and
borders will help to keep on gardening as the nights draw in. Well thought out Lighting can also add interest to a garden and if you are going down the wildlife friendly route, good
lighting makes spotting the wildlife visitors easier at night.
Design and layout tips to improve access and mobility .
Garden design and layout tips for elderly, disabled people and wheelchair users. With the technical stuff and things to
consider when building paths, hard surfaces and handrails for people with limited mobility and wheelchairs users.
These tips are intended as a basic guide and not as detailed specifications. It is essential that any design conforms with current Building
Paths with a good sound even surface are essential if you are using walking sticks, walking aids
or a wheelchair. They should be at least 3ft (two 18" slabs) wide with a turning circle large enough to turn around in. Gravel is not a suitable surface material for a wheelchair. Even compacted
gravel makes walking with sticks or driving your wheelchair really difficult. Concrete slabs are slippery when they get wet or icy. Having a slight slope for water run off is a good idea. If your
path is going to run over different levels, gradual slopes are better than steps. It's also a good idea to fit handrails on the slopes. Consider using Roll-out pathways to extend paths over muddy
areas, gravel, lawns or slippery decking, etc.
Dimensions. How wide should a pathway for a wheelchair be ?
1.8m for 2 wheel-chairs or
two people side by side. 1.2m for a wheelchair with person alongside. Paths running along the house should take account of windows that open outwards.
Gradient of paths
1:15 - recommended maximum gradient.
1:20 is the preferred maximum gradient. A gradient of 1:12 is the maximum given in the British Standards. In practice, this gradient is to steep for older people and wheelchair users.
Although a slightly steeper gradient over a shorter distance may be easier to handle than a gentler one over a long distance. Long gradients of more than 1:20 should have level resting areas
at about every 30m.
1:100 - preferred maximum Cambers present
difficulties for both wheelchair users and people with visual impairments.
Best material for a path for a wheelchair. Block paving will last forever, fairly easy to lay, looks good and
is permeable (lets water through). Also, the recycled rubber mats used in kids play areas.
Pathway surfaces for the elderly and
Path surfaces should be firm, level, non-glare and non-slip when wet or dry. Gravel, cobbles and uneven sets are not recommended. Hard
surfaces must have a well-consolidated sub-base to avoid the surface cracking up or shifting.
Building materials used in mobility landscaping.
Materials for paths and hard surfaces should be
carefully chosen for safe and comfortable use by people using walking aids and wheelchair users. Surfaces need to be well constructed with a firm, non-slip, level access.
Again gravel is unsuitable but there is a wide range of materials available.
Some of the Pros and Cons here.
Concrete is low cost, durable and low maintenance. Unattractive but surface can be textured to give extra grip.
Tarmac is also low cost and low maintenance. Good durability as long its laid correctly. Its durable and low
maintenance. Again unattractive but can be surfaced with other materials to give attractive finish. Should be laid between solid edges. 'Stickiness' in hot weather can be a problem
Reclaimed bricks Block pavers or house brick surfaces are attractive with a range of colours and grades. Proper
construction is essential, loose or poorly laid bricks are a hazard.
Wood medium to high cost but looks good and is natural. the main problem is its relatively short life and it can be slippery. Must be well
laid in the direction of travel so as not to trap wheelchair wheels.
Cobbles are expensive and provide a difficult surface for most disabled people, although they can be set low to make a smoother
Slabs/flagstones make a good surface when correctly laid, flat surfaces can be slippery in the wet but can come with a slightly roughed
surface. Best laid with a slight slope or close butted (without mortar) for water run off.
Handrails along ramps or steps will provide welcome, often essential, support to people with limited mobility. Handrails should
be fitted for steps, ramps, abrupt changes in level or where people with walking difficulties are likely to need extra support.
The handrail diameter should be comfortable to the grip not to narrow or to wide, 45-50mm is about right. The Rail height depends on
the height of the user. The norm is 850mm above step nosing or ramp surface and 1m above landing. Double rails should be fitted for people using a wheelchair with the lower rail height
about 750 mm. Rails should extend approximately 450 mm beyond the ramp. This is intended as a basic guide and not as detailed specifications. It is essential that any design
meets current Building Regulations.
Materials for handrails that give a firm and comfortable grip should be used. Metal is uncomfortable when cold or wet, and is
better coated nylon of plastic . Good quality, non-splintering hardwood is more comfortable to the touch.
The most important factor is safe access to your garden and a layout that enables you to get around your garden with