Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Inland Northwest, High Desert
March, 2004
Regional Report

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This stunning combination could just as easily fill any raised wheelchair garden.

Wheelchair Gardening Keeps You Rolling Along

There comes a time when gardeners gaze longingly at their favorite spot, saying, "Dang, the ground is a long way down!"

For a variety of reasons, all of a sudden we just can't seem to reach it. But that doesn't mean an end to America's favorite pastime. That just means it's time to be more creative and bring the garden up to where we can reach it.

A Sawhorse or Three and Some Lumber
Neither age nor a "catch-in-the-getalong," as Mom used to call it, need herald the end of gardening. They may simply be signs that we would appreciate our gardens at chair height. Wheelchair gardens were first introduced to me in Mel Bartholomew's book, Square Foot Gardening (out of print, but you can still find a copy on's used book Web page). Waist-high boxes resting on sawhorses were dreamed up for people in wheelchairs. They can roll right up to the 12-inch-deep planters and garden to their hearts' content. Those who just prefer not to stoop can appreciate a garden within reach, too.

Boxes constructed of 1" x 12" boards, laid across sawhorses and filled with sterile potting soil, bring the garden to the gardener. Don't try to make a neat job of the carpentry; it's better if you don't. Any gaps you leave will eventually sag a little and widen and improve drainage and air circulation for the roots.

Sawhorses should be set on both ends, and one in the middle for support. Fill with the best sterile potting soil you can find. I like Sunshine because it has plenty of vermiculite and perlite for good water retention while keeping the soil light. A couple of hand tools and a handful of seed packets and you're ready to get your nails dirty.

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