Garden design for the elderly and disabled

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 layout tips on this page.
  • Adapting a garden to use a wheelchair.
  • How wide does a pathway need to be for a wheelchair.
  • Gradient, camber and materials for paths to make access easier.
  • Simple things you can do to make gardening more enjoyable for elderly and disabled gardeners.
  • Mobility garden design service.
  • Best materials to build a path to be able to use a wheelchair safely.
  • Material Pros and Cons here
No job that improves mobility is to small, just ask.
North Somerset, West Somerset, Yatton, Bleadon, Uphill, Bristol, Somerset, Weston super mare, Burnham on sea, Portishead, Clevedon, Nailsea, Glastonbury, Street and Wells.

A garden designed and built or adapted with wheelchair access and mobility in mind, can look good and be a blessing. My visit to work out a price for mobility landscaping that improves access and mobility is free

  • If you have a disability that makes getting around, general mobility and bending difficult. Garden layout and easy access can make a big difference to using and enjoying your garden.
  • Easy access to your garden, layout design tips and landscaping services that may help if you are elderly, disabled or gardening from a wheelchair are covered on, or linked from this page. 
  • Mobility landscaping work Includes improving access to and around your garden, constructing paths for wheelchairs, leveling slopes, terracing, fitting handrails and building non slip patios.  

Safe accessible gardens for elderly, disabled and wheelchair users.

Bill and Ben say accessible gardens make gardening fun again
Bill and Ben say accessible gardens make gardening fun again

 If you are elderly, disabled or a wheelchair user, these simple garden design changes can make gardening easier and enjoyable.
  • Non slip paving or Roll out pathways.
  • 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 Regulations.

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 disabled.
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 for wheelchairs..
  • 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 surface.
  • 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 ease.


Garden design service to make your garden accessible.

Free visit to discuss your Ideas and mobility needs and prepare a quote

First Visit is free, to meet and talk over your ideas and mobility needs, together we'll have a look round your garden and if necessary agree a meeting to prepare a detailed brief and the basis of the design. In most cases, unless you specifically request a detailed drawing, design and plan, or the changes are large scale. I prepare a free, fairly detailed quote and charges for drawings won't be necessary.

Paid Design, layout and drawings (optional)

If you prefer to have a drawing and layout plan, detailing the proposals for your garden, including areas of hard landscaping and planting plans. Our garden designer will meet with you to agree the outline. Draw up the Layout Plan showing the position of the main features, dimension and how the garden is to be set out and constructed to meet your specific mobility needs. It's the basis for us or a landscape gardening contractor of your choice to build your Garden from.

Construction drawings.

If necessary, separate drawings can be provided of raised beds, ramps and pathways, etc.

I hope our quote is competitive and you select us to construct your new "easier to get around" garden. If not you can at least choose your own landscape gardener, knowing the work is being carried out to our design.

Planting plans and raised borders.

Planting plans for easily accessed borders, detail the name of each plant, position, spacing for planting and quantities required.

Supply and Planting - We can build the raised beds, source the plants, and plant them.

Maintenance gardening.
The services of a local maintenance gardener in your area 
can be arranged.



Finally a summary of changes and tips that will make gardening a bit safer and more enjoyable for elderly people, gardeners with a disability and wheelchair gardeners.

  • Raised beds make the garden more accessible for planting and harvesting also using trellis to grow plants and vegetables up helps to avoid bending and stooping. Raised garden beds
  • Retractable hanging baskets, wheelbarrows and fixing castors on plant containers  to make them easily re-positioned.
  • Use lightweight tools that are easier to handle and long handled gardening tools that have been specially adapted for elderly or disabled folk, Or you can adapt your own gardening tools to make them more comfortable to use with foam, tape and plastic tubing etc.
  • Have plenty of easily accessible shade areas for working during hot weather in Summer and shelters to escape the rain in Winter.
  • Have sturdy chairs and easily accessible tables spread around to take frequent breaks and have a drink.
  • Drink plenty of water or juice especially on hot days.
  • Ensure that there are taps near to container planted plants and seed beds or maybe install a drip feeder system for easy watering.
  • Its a good idea to have quick and easy access to a toilet
  • Long reach, stainless steel gardening tools Allow you to work in the garden without bending or from a seat. The handle is positioned so that the wrist can remain in a natural position while working


 For more information on adapting your own tools visit my page tools page