Adaptive Gardening

By Hannah Nelson | May 28, 2024
Man using wheelchair gardening at raised gardening beds.
Man using wheelchair gardening in raised gardening beds.

Gardening isn't just a hobby; it's a therapeutic and rewarding activity that connects us with nature. The benefits of gardening cannot be understated; it has been linked with lower blood pressure, increased dexterity and strength, reduced stress levels, and increased social interaction (Thompson, Gardening for Health: A Regular Dose of Gardening). However, for individuals with disabilities, traditional gardening tools might pose challenges. With assistive technology, gardening is becoming more accessible for all. In this blog post, we'll explore some helpful tools and techniques tailored for assistive gardening, ensuring that green thumbs know no boundaries. 

Raised Garden Beds

For wheelchair users or individuals with mobility impairments, raised garden beds bring gardening to a comfortable height, eliminating the need to bend or kneel. These beds can be customized to suit various needs and preferences, ensuring easy access for planting, watering, and harvesting. Additionally, raised beds offer better drainage and soil control, promoting healthier plants and less maintenance.   

Assistive Garden Carts

Purple gardening scooter on garden path

Gardening can be challenging with constant movement, keeping your body in a strained posture, and transporting tools, soil and produce. One aid is an assistive garden cart, with a seat and places to carry heavy loads. These carts provide stability and support while navigating uneven terrain, making gardening tasks more manageable and enjoyable.   

Ergonomic Tools

Traditional gardening tools can be cumbersome and difficult to handle for those with limited dexterity or strength. Ergonomic tools, designed with comfortable grips and lightweight materials, offer a solution. Great options include tools that feature padded handles, adjustable lengths, and angled designs that reduce strain on wrists and joints. One trowel at the Utah Assistive Technology Program has an easy grip handle with an arm cuff to provide support. Ergonomic trowels, pruners, and cultivators make tasks like planting, trimming, and weeding more accessible and enjoyable. 

Adaptive Planting Aids

There are numerous aids for planting seeds. Small wooden dibbles with easy-grip handles and adjustable depths can be used to plant seeds with less strain. There are also seeders for larger gardens with handles reaching up to waist height when standing, allowing gardeners to plant without bending over. 

Overhead view of plants with tube going through each pot.

Automatic Watering Systems 

When watering becomes a physically demanding task, automatic watering systems can keep plants thriving without much effort. Automatic watering systems can come equipped with timers and drip irrigation technology. These systems ensure consistent moisture levels, promoting healthy growth without the need for manual watering. From simple drip systems to programmable sprinklers, there are options to suit gardens of all sizes and layouts.   

Adaptive Container Gardening

For those with limited outdoor space or mobility constraints, container gardening offers a versatile alternative. Adaptive containers with elevated designs and built-in watering systems make gardening accessible on balconies, patios, or indoors. Container gardening is a great option for an herb garden, for flowers, or vegetables that don't need too much space. Container gardening allows individuals to cultivate a variety of plants without the need for extensive outdoor space.  

Identifying flower with phone app

Assistive Technology Apps

In today's digital age, there's a wealth of assistive technology apps designed to enhance the gardening experience. From plant identification apps that provide care instructions to garden planning tools with accessibility features, these apps empower individuals to garden with confidence. Features like voice commands, customizable interfaces, and step-by-step guides cater to a range of abilities, making gardening more inclusive and intuitive for gardeners of all abilities.


Arm holding onto an easy grip garden trowel

Gardening is a universally cherished pastime that should be accessible to all. With the right tools and techniques, individuals with disabilities can cultivate thriving gardens and reap the myriad benefits of gardening. At the UATP, we strive to find solutions when commercial assistive technology isn't fully serving one's needs. If you need something adapted to make gardening an easier experience, call Dan, the Logan Lab Coordinator, at 435-797-0699 to see if there are any modifications that can be made

The Utah Assistive Technology Program currently has an easy-grip garden trowel with an arm support cuff that is available for loan. If you are interested in trying it out, call 800-524-5152 to learn how to borrow it.



Top left: Man using wheelchair gardening in raised gardening beds. Raised Beds Image Source

Top right: Purple gardening scooter on garden path. Scooter Image Source

Middle left: Overhead view of potted plants with irrigation tube with red nozzles running through the pots. Drip Irrigation Image Source

Bottom right: Hand holding phone and identifying a purple flower through use of an app. App Image Source

Bottom left: Easy grip trowel with arm support cuff digging into garden bed. Trowel Image Source

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