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Creating a Garden Thats Accessible for Aging in Place

Adapting the Outdoors for the Golden Years

As I stare out at my lush garden, I can’t help but feel a pang of worry about how I’ll be able to maintain it as I grow older. My parents faced a similar dilemma when my father had a debilitating stroke at 64. Suddenly, the home they had designed for their golden years became a maze of obstacles. Luckily, the house had been built with aging in place in mind, with features like handrails and zero-threshold showers. But in the garden, we had to get creative.

As the Washington Post article mentions, it’s never too early to start thinking about how your home and outdoor space can adapt to meet your changing needs over time. That’s why I’ve been researching ways to make my beloved garden more accessible and user-friendly as I grow older. And I’m not alone – the team at Today’s Gardens has been helping countless clients do the same.

Enhancing Accessibility

One of the first things the experts recommend is ensuring smooth, level pathways throughout the garden. Zero-threshold entries – those with no steps – are ideal, as they minimize the risk of tripping and falling. If your garden doesn’t have a zero-threshold entry, a gentle ramp may be a solution down the line.

But it’s not just the entryways that need to be accessible. Widening walkways and garden paths to at least 34 inches, or even 36 inches, can make it easier to navigate with a walker or wheelchair. According to the Aging in Place Design Guidelines, wheelchair widths can range from 25 to 36 inches, so those extra few inches can make a big difference.

Another important consideration is the type of flooring or surfacing used in the garden. As the Washington Post article points out, carpet may be soft, but it can be harder to keep clean. Hardwood, on the other hand, can pose a slipping hazard. The experts recommend opting for materials with a lot of texture, like pavers or decomposed granite, to provide extra traction. And when it comes to area rugs, choose ones with thin, firm pads and non-slip backing.

Lighting the Way

As we age, our eyes become more sensitive to glare and take longer to adapt to changes in light. The Washington Post article notes that a healthy 60-year-old needs about twice as much light to read as a 20-year-old, and an 80-year-old needs three times more.

This is where strategic lighting can make a big difference in the garden. Aim for ample natural light by incorporating plenty of windows, skylights, and glass doors. And don’t forget about artificial lighting – as the article suggests, create layers of light with overhead, task, and accent lighting to ensure you can see clearly, whether you’re tending to your plants or entertaining guests.

When it comes to color and contrast, the experts recommend steering clear of all-white palettes, which can be harder to navigate. Instead, choose materials and furnishings that provide a stark contrast to the surrounding surfaces. As the Aging in Place Design Guidelines suggest, make sure the color of handrails and other safety features stand out against the walls and other elements.

Incorporating Assistive Technology

While we can’t always predict how our needs will change as we age, there are some smart home features that can make life a lot easier down the line. As the Washington Post article recommends, consider installing remote controls for lighting and ceiling fans, a video doorbell, and a thermostat you can control with your voice or an app.

And when it comes to the kitchen or bathroom, look for features like drawers and pullouts instead of traditional cabinets. Not only are they easier to access, but they also allow you to better see the contents. As the article notes, side-by-side or French-door-style refrigerators can also provide better visibility than top-bottom models.

Low-Maintenance Landscaping

While we’re focused on accessibility, it’s also important to consider the long-term maintenance of your garden. As the Spotts Garden Service team points out, choosing the right plants and strategies can ensure your garden requires less work as the years go on.

For example, opt for low-maintenance, drought-tolerant plants that won’t require constant watering or pruning. The Spotts team can help you create a long-term plan that allows you to make improvements over time, gradually transforming your garden into a lush, low-maintenance oasis.

A Garden for All Seasons

As I look around my garden, I’m filled with a renewed sense of purpose. With the right modifications and a little forward planning, I know I can create a space that will be just as enjoyable and accessible in my golden years as it is today. And who knows, maybe someday I’ll be the one sharing my tips and tricks with the next generation of gardeners looking to age in place.

Today’s Garden is Garden and Landscape Company, provides all you need about Garden and Landscape Design to get better garden decorations.

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