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Design for the Needs of the Users



  • Width: optimal recommended width is 60 inches with a minimum recommend width of 48 inches

  • Surface should be firm and stable: pavement, textured concrete and screenings. Brick and boardwalk pathways become slick when wet and can be a safety risk. Rock, wood chip, and stepping stone paths are not recommended.

  • Slope: recommended 5% or less running slope. Recommended cross slope is 2 to 3%.

  • Ramps: any time the grade of a path exceeds 5% provide a ramp. If a ramp is needed, the least amount of slope possible is recommended. A maximum acceptable slope is 1:12. Ramps are required to have a level, 60-inch minimum landing immediately before and after a sloped run, and landing must be installed for ever 30’ of sloped run.

  • Handrails are recommended any time an element such as a ramp or bridge is present on a path.

  • Obstacles: paths should be free of any obstacles such as roots, rocks, and/or steps. 

  • Create raised planting beds or boxes to accommodate individuals who use wheelchairs, senior citizens and other individuals with limited mobility.

  • Create a sensory garden in a raised bed or standing planter box for individuals with visual impairments.

  • Use trellises to raise plants vertically so there’s no stooping.

  • Containers are an inexpensive way to create raised plantings.

  • Use multi-layered landscape design to increase access.

  • Use adaptive gardening tools if necessary.

  • Have aprons with pockets to secure a lightweight bag or basket for carrying tools.

  • Provide kneelers, knee pads or a small stool for people having difficulty bending or with joint pain.

  • Use tools with brightly colored handles or paint or tape the handles white to provide contrast for gardeners with low vision.

  • Add benches or chairs for people to rest.

  • Choose plants for scent and tactile recognition for gardeners and visitors with visual impairments.

  • Use sound producing elements such as wind chimes, a waterfall or a fountain to help provide orientation for visitors with visual impairments.


Bring in people & celebrations


  • Add gathering places— tables, chairs, hammocks, etc.

  • Schedule special events in the garden— eating a meal or snack, reading, holidays, visitor day, celebrations. 

  • Make the garden an extension of your living space.

  • Make additions to your garden reason to celebrate— adding a new section, do something special to commemorate it, even pictures are celebratory and capture the memories; first tomato of the season is a photo op, tasting room, cheers all around. 

  • Give extra vegetables and fruits, flowers, herbs to family, friends, neighbors, homeless shelters, food pantries, etc. Let your child know that the garden benefits many people and his/her work is valuable and appreciated.

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