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Gardening for All: Ultimate Guide to Wheelchair Accessible Raised Garden Beds

Gardening for All: Ultimate Guide to Wheelchair Accessible Raised Garden Beds

Using a wheelchair does not mean the end of your gardening hobby! Wheelchair accessible raised garden beds allow those with limited mobility to enjoy the benefits of this wonderful outdoor activity. They bring the garden up to you!
Wheelchair Accessible Raised Garden Beds
Wheelchair Accessible Raised Garden Beds
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What to Know

  • We recommend wheelchair-accessible raised garden beds are at least 22 inches wide, 12 inches deep, and 30 inches high for optimal access and maneuverability.
  • Use long-handled and ergonomic gardening tools, watering cans with long spouts, and sturdy plant supports to make gardening more accessible with less reach needed.
  • Raised garden beds are part of an overall accessible garden space by ensuring level ground, installing ramps, creating wide structural pathways, choosing easy-to-grow and maintain plants, installing automatic irrigation systems, and adding shady places to take breaks.

A wheelchair-accessible raised garden bed is typically higher than traditional raised beds, with room to roll a wheelchair underneath to make reaching plants easier.

Benefits of having a wheelchair-accessible raised garden bed include improved accessibility and mobility, increased independence, and access to fresh air, sunshine, and the natural environment.

Additionally, such beds can reduce the need for gardening assistance and provide a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Example of Well-Designed Raised Beds for Wheelchair Users

VegTrug 1.8 Meter Raised BedPin

VegTrug Raised Beds

as of 04/18/2024 3:26 pm

I love the design and visual appeal of this wheelchair-accessible raised bed from VegTrug.

It is also a highly functional product for anyone who needs to sit while gardening.

The bottom of the bed is tapered towards the center like a trough to be accessible from either side.

It’s made of cedar wood, so it’s also built to last and is available in several different sizes and configurations.

Raised Garden Bed, Elevated Wood Garden Planter Stand - 72x23x30inPin

BestChoice Raised Garden Bed


This option is a simple elevated wooden garden bed that is 30 inches tall, providing access underneath for a wheelchair.

Made of naturally water-resistant fir wood, it will last a long time with no concern of chemicals leaching into your plants.

It’s narrow, so it can fit in many places while allowing access from either side. It doesn’t come with a liner which might be a good idea for plants that need frequent watering.

Land Guard Galvanized Raised Garden Bed with Legs, 48×24×32in Large Metal Elevated Raised Planter Box with Drainage Holes for Backyard, Patio, Balcony, 400lb CapacityPin

Land Guard Galvanized Raised Garden Beds

as of 04/18/2024 3:26 pm

Galvanized metal raised beds are another good option for wheelchair gardeners.

One caution is that metal garden beds can get hot when they are in the sun for a while. But they are long-lasting and won’t crack or warp like some wooden options.

They are made not to rust too. There are lots of size and design options available and this particular model comes in four different colors to match most decors.

Giantex Raised Garden Bed, Elevated Planter, Metal Plant Box with Legs, Standing Garden Stand,Drainage Holes, Vegetables & Flowers Growing Container for Indoor and Outdoor Use (40''L x13W'' x 31.5''H)Pin

Giantex Raised Garden Beds

as of 04/18/2024 3:26 pm

People with limited space or who want to grow a few plants or veggies would benefit from a smaller elevated planter like this one.

It’s metal with drainage holes on the bottom and is tall enough to pull most wheelchairs underneath. You can get one as long as 25 inches long up to 40 inches. 

Outdoor Living Today Raised Cedar Garden Bed - 8 x 8 ft.Pin

Outdoor Living Today Raised Cedar Garden Bed

as of 04/18/2024 3:26 pm

An option like this might work for wheelchair gardeners with reasonable trunk control who can safely lean away from their chairs.

Beds like these offer lots of room to grow different plants, especially smaller fruits, veggies, and flower beds.

However, they lack the clearance needed to get closer to the plants. It requires leaning into the bed or using long-handled tools to tend to the plants. 

Hacks and Tricks for Making a Raised Garden Bed

Of course, you don’t have to buy a new raised bed to participate in elevated gardening.

You can use any planters, window boxes, or even buckets and find a way to raise them to a functional height for a wheelchair user. Here are some ideas:

Make sure that any homemade, DIY, or raised bed hacks you use are stable and secure and won’t tip over. Soil weighs more than you think – especially when wet!

Finding the Right Raised Garden Bed for Your Needs

1. Height

Raised garden beds should be at least 30 inches tall to allow a wheelchair user to easily access the bed from any direction and comfortably reach the plants, soil, and other materials in the bed. Measure your wheelchair to make sure you have proper clearance.

Tip: Adjustable legs or hoisting mechanisms help vary the bed height as needed.

2. Width

The raised bed should be at least 22 inches wide to provide safe and easy access for a wheelchair. Make sure your wheelchair will fit between the legs of it.

Tip: Ensure the bed is wide enough to provide adequate space for gardening activities.

3. Depth

A raised bed should be 12 inches deep to provide enough soil for growing plants. Research the type of plants you want to grow and their soil depth requirements to ensure they are appropriate.

Tip: Include a plastic liner to prevent water and moisture from seeping.

4. Materials

Raised beds should be made from durable and strong materials that can support the weight of the soil, water, and plants. Popular materials for raised beds include treated lumber, metal, plastic, and PVC, and each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Wheelchair-accessible raised beds should be made of materials that are easy to clean, moisture-resistant, and strong enough to hold the soil, water, and plants.

  • Wood is an inexpensive and easy-to-shape and form material, but it is susceptible to rot and needs to be treated with a sealant to protect it from moisture.
  • Metal has many advantages, such as being durable and long-lasting. However, it is also quite expensive and prone to rust and corrosion.
  • Plastic is a popular material choice due to its lightweight and affordable nature. It is less strong or durable than wood or metal and is prone to cracking.
  • Bricks are an attractive and durable material for construction, but they come with a few drawbacks. They can be expensive and heavy, making them difficult to install.
  • Concrete is renowned for its durability and customizability. Still, it is also quite heavy, expensive to install, and difficult to work with.

Tip: Cedar is naturally waterproof and attractive but more expensive. Recycled plastic and wood fiber combinations are good choices too.

5. Drainage

When selecting a raised garden bed, it is essential to ensure adequate drainage. This is accomplished through drain holes or slatted bottoms that allow excess water to escape and prevent plants from becoming waterlogged.

If necessary, you can add additional drain holes. The type of soil a plant requires will determine whether drainage holes are essential; some plants require well-draining soils, while others prefer wetter environments.

Be careful with drainage when watering plants. Water may come through the soil and onto you and your wheelchair while watering.

Tip: You can add drainage holes to most raised beds by drilling them yourself.

6. Accessibility

Having a raised bed that is easily accessible from each side is important. This ensures that the bed provides easy reach from different angles, allowing for easier harvest, maintenance, and general access.

Beds that are too large may be difficult to reach from the side or back without additional equipment. Too narrow, and they may not provide enough space for the wheelchair user to maneuver. 

The bed size should be carefully considered when selecting a bed to ensure it meets the user’s accessibility needs.

Tip: Consider adding rails or side supports to help people in wheelchairs stay stable while tending to the garden.

7. Assembly

Many raised beds will require some assembly before being used. This often includes constructing the garden box, attaching the frame, filling the bed with soil, and installing the plants.

If you or your loved one need assistance with this part of the process, have a plan before delivery.

8. Shade and Cover

Having a cover or shade for an elevated garden bed is vital for both the plants and the wheelchair user. For plants, the shade helps protect them from direct sunlight, which can damage them and reduce growth, and helps keep the soil moist.

For wheelchair users, the shade provides a comfortable place to rest and protects them from direct sunlight, which can be especially helpful in hot climates. Additionally, the cover can help protect the wheelchair user from rain and wind, making gardening difficult.

How to Build a Raised Garden Bed for Wheelchair Users

Are you thinking of building your own? Here is a quick synopsis of the process with some resources for developing your building plan. 

1. Measure the space

Measure the intended area to determine how large a raised bed you can build. It is vital to measure the area twice to ensure accuracy.

Helpful Tip: Mark the measurements on the ground with chalk or spray paint to help visualize the shape of the bed.

2. Select materials

Select durable materials that can withstand the elements. Wood or metal for the walls and a waterproof liner for the bottom are common choices.

Helpful Tip: Reinforce the legs to support the weight of the soil and plants.

3. Prepare the location

Prepare the ground or patio by leveling the area and removing any debris. Ensure the site is free of rocks or other objects that could make wheelchair navigation difficult.

Helpful Tip: If the ground is uneven, consider using gravel or sand to level it out, then cover it with a solid, wheelchair-friendly surface.

4. Build the bed

Construct the bed and legs using the measurements taken in step 1, and any raised wheelchair bed building plans you may have. 

Helpful Tip: Use a level to ensure the bed stays level at every step of the construction process.

5. Add the liner

Add a waterproof liner to the bottom of the bed if you aren’t using waterproof materials. This will help prevent water from leaking out.

Helpful Tip: Use a liner that is durable and UV-resistant so that it won’t crack prematurely in the sun

6. Fill the bed

Fill the bed with soil and compost. Make sure the soil is loose and well-drained.

Helpful Tip: Mix in some sand or vermiculite to help with drainage.

7. Add finishing touches

Add finishing touches such as decorative stones, furniture, and other accessories to make the bed more aesthetically pleasing.

Helpful Tip: Add a trellis for vertical gardens or an arbor to add shade.

Many resources are available to help understand the basics of building a raised wheelchair bed, such as books, magazines, and websites.

The following books provide comprehensive advice on gardening from a wheelchair.

Websites like Fresh Patio and This Old House provide helpful resources and plans for building raised beds.

Additionally, local garden centers or community spaces may provide wheelchair-accessible raised beds and educational programs to help those interested in gardening.

Plant Care and Maintenance Guide for Raised Wheelchair Beds

1. Ensure the plants get enough water. Water the plants in the morning or evening to avoid evaporation.

2. Prune the plants to keep them healthy and promote growth. Use sharp, clean pruning shears to avoid damaging the plants.

3. Fertilize the soil often to help the plants grow. Use organic fertilizers to avoid damaging the plants or the environment.

4. Remove any weeds that may be growing in the raised bed. Pull the weeds out by their roots to prevent them from growing back.

5. Check the raised bed for any pests or diseases that may be present. Use natural pest control methods whenever possible.

6. Remove any debris or dead plants from the raised bed. Use a garden rake or a vacuum cleaner to keep the bed looking neat.

7. Inspect the raised bed for any signs of damage or wear and tear. Check the bed frame for any cracks or signs of rotting wood.

8. Locate the bed in an appropriate location in your garden. The best site is usually where the bed will get 8 to 12 hours of sunlight and near a water source. Use a shade cover in hot areas with the constant sun. 

Tools and Techniques for Raised Bed Gardening

1. Gardening Gloves

Gardening gloves can help protect a person in a wheelchair’s hands from dirt and grime while gardening, so dirt isn’t transferred to their handrims. Gloves also help to protect the skin from any sharp objects and thorns.

Tip: Choose gloves that are comfortable and provide a good grip. See our recommended wheelchair gloves here.

2. Long-Handled Tools

Long-handled tools such as trowels and gardening forks can help a person in a wheelchair reach plants and soil without having to lean over, especially in beds wider than 18 inches.

Tip: Choose tools with an ergonomic handle for added comfort.

3. Ergonomic Gardening Tools

3. Ergonomic Gardening Tools

Ergonomic gardening tools, such as cultivators, hoes, and spades, can help a person in a wheelchair to work more efficiently and comfortably in the garden.

Tip: Choose tools with curved handles that fit comfortably in your hand.

4. Watering Can

A watering can helps a person in a wheelchair quickly water their plants without having to bend or stretch.

Tip: Choose a watering can with a long spout and an ergonomic handle.

5. Plant Supports

Plant supports keep plants upright and are more accessible for a person in a wheelchair to reach.

Tip: Choose plant supports that are adjustable and easy to move.

6. Plant Markers

Plant markers can help a person in a wheelchair identify and remember the plants in their garden.

Tip: Use UV-approved and waterproof markers to make your writing less likely to fade.

Creating a Wheelchair Accessible Garden Space

1. Choose level ground

When creating an accessible garden space, choosing an area of level ground is essential to make it easier for a wheelchair to move around the garden.

2. Install ramps

Ramps can make it easy for wheelchairs to access different parts of the garden. Make sure they have a non-slip surface and are wide enough for the wheelchair.

3. Create wide pathways

Pathways should be wide enough for wheelchairs and have a non-slip surface. Consider using gravel, mulch, or paving stones.

4. Design for easy planting

When designing the garden, consider the needs of a wheelchair user. Place raised beds and containers at a height that is easy to reach.

5. Install an irrigation system

Install an irrigation system to make watering the garden easier. Consider using a soaker hose or a water timer to automate the watering process.

6. Use ergonomic tools

Select tools designed for easy use. Look for tools with long handles and ergonomic grips to make them easier to use.

7. Choose safe plants

Choose plants that are not poisonous and do not have sharp thorns or spines. This will help ensure the safety of a wheelchair user.

8. Add seating

Add seating to the garden in a shady spot to provide a place to rest

Video Guide

Guide to Wheelchair Accessible Raised Garden Beds

Audio Article

Infographic: Gardening For All With Wheelchair Accessible Garden Beds

Gardening For All With Wheelchair Accessible Garden Beds infographicPin
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Scott Grant, CSA®, SHSS®

Scott Grant, CSA®, SHSS®

With over 20 years of experience and certifications as a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)® and Senior Home Safety Specialist (SHSS)®, Scott Grant provides reliable recommendations to help seniors maintain independence through informed product and service choices for safe, comfortable living.

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