Gardening with a disability
Factors such as advancing years, disabilities and poor health through accident or illness can limit what an individual can do in the garden. However, in most cases, it is possible to still enjoy gardening. A wealth of information is available on designing and adapting the garden, specialist tools and equipment, inspirational gardens and how to apply for funding for specific projects.
Gardens can be made more accessible with ramps, wide paths and raised beds
Specialist tools and equipment are available
Many organisations offer advice, demonstration gardens and training
Sources of help
A range of organisations and services that might be helpful are listed below.
A charity producing a wealth of gardening information on their gardening website for people to start or continue gardening with a wide range of disabilities.
- Advice on how to cope with specific gardening tasks for stroke survivors, those with sight-loss, dementia and the elderly is covered
- The equipment and tool finder helps to identify specific products suited to an individual’s needs
- Various publications can be ordered from Thrive via the website and post. Topics include gardening with a disability, using gardening to help people with a disability and the research and theory of social and therapeutic horticulture
If you do not have access to the internet you can contact Thrive’s National Office at:
The Geoffrey Udall Centre, Beech Hill, Reading, RG7 2AT
Tel: (0118) 9885688 (please note: Thrive are unable to handle general gardening enquiries)
Fax: (0118) 9885677
Arthritis Research UK
Comprehensive ‘Gardening and Arthritis’ booklet available free to download
Tel: (0300) 7900400
Herefordshire Growing Point
A local charity advising individuals on how to adapt their gardens, and develop their gardening skills.
Tel: (01544) 262186
Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB)
RNIB, in partnership with Thrive, have developed a wide range of services providing information and guidance to gardeners who have sight loss.
Tel (0303) 123 9999
Tools and equipment
Many organisations specialise in selection and sourcing of suitable tools and gardening equipment.
Disable Living Centres throughout the UK provide opportunities to see and try products and equipment as well as offering professional advice on the most suitable items. Use the postcode search facility on the website to locate the nearest centre.
Tel: (0161) 832 9757
Disabled Living Foundation
Offer advice on selecting and sourcing tools. They have an Equipment Centre in London where people can make an appointment to visit and try out some tools.
Tel: (020) 7289 6111, (Mon–Fri 10am to 4pm)
Garden and DIY tools tested by Fred Walden, garden writer and equipment consultant to organisations including the NHS, charities and universities.
Peta (UK) Ltd
Designers, manufacturers and suppliers of ergonomic tools, aids and assistive devices, for people suffering from arthritis or reduced gripping strength. They stock a range of Easi-Grip® and long reach tools.
Tel: (01376) 573476 (Mon-Fri 9am–5pm)
Specialises in the construction of custom-made, technical aids for people with disabilities. Use the postcode search facility on the website to locate the closest regional contact.
There are many organisations possessing/running demonstration gardens and here is a selection.
To arrange a visit to the Thrive demonstration gardens telephone or email the manager via the website www.thrive.org.uk.
Thrive Trunkwell Garden Project, near Reading, Berkshire, (0118) 988 4844
Thrive Battersea Garden Project, London SW11, (020) 7720 2212
Many residential care homes have sensory gardens.
Capel Manor College
Sensory garden and gardens designed for wheelchair users.
Tel: 0303 003 1234
Herefordshire Growing Point
Examples of raised beds, containers, paving materials and tools can be seen by arrangement at the charity’s demonstration garden.
Tel: (01544) 262186
A national charity supporting disabled and disadvantaged people into work. Demonstration and working gardens can be found at many of the Trust’s centres. Contact the Trust via the website.
Tel: 030 0303 3111
The website provides information on the accessibility to gardens for children, disadvantaged families and disabled people. It allows garden visitors to report on their visits to gardens and has a directory of gardens in England and Wales.
Grants and funding
CLA Charitable Trust
To promote education in agriculture, horticulture and conservation for those who are disabled or disadvantaged.
Tel: (01636) 823835
Gardening for the Disabled Trust
The Trust aims to help those who are disabled and would like to actively participate in gardening. It offers financial assistance and practical help and advice. Contact the Trust via email or letter.
Gardening for the Disabled Trust, P O Box 285, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN2 9JD
The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.