The first step in creating a safe garden is to assess the areas in your garden with high activity. It is important to ensure that these areas are safe and accessible. Key areas include; front gate, mailbox, front door, tool shed, garage or carport. Access ways should be wide enough to accommodate 2 people walking side by side. Allow room for walkers, wheelchairs or wheelie bins especially if the path has turns. Think about drainage from storm water run-off from so that paths and access ways stay dry and safe.
Gates: Are they rusty, difficult to open? Do they have tricky handles, uneven surface or have overgrowth around it?
Trip hazards: Are there hoses and tools lying around? Uneven paths, loose pavers, and roots coming up through the ground?
Paths and Steps: Are they uneven, is the sloping too steep, do the pathways collect water and become slippery? Are there old pavers that have come loose? Is there moss making the surface slippery?
Paths should be even and non-slip. Check if there is a risk of leaves, fruit or berries falling on it which will make it slippery. Construct paths so that minimal run-off runs across the path or access way. Choose a colour that doesn’t blend in with the surroundings. It also helps if you use a different colour on trims to highlight the edge of paths and access ways. The ideal path surface would vary from person to person and garden to garden. Some of the recommended path surfaces include:
- Brushed concrete
- Textured Blocks
- House Bricks
- Natural Stone
- Rubberised surfaces (soft fall)
Most gardens will have some steps, and it is important that these are not a hazard or safety risk. In older gardens or gardens with a lot of ground growth steps can become overgrown making it difficult to see and navigate. Most steps are positioned in entrance ways. As we are often carrying items it is essential that these steps are easily seen and sturdy. Edging can become broken or brittle with over use and lack of maintenance.
When building steps make sure that the each step is the same in dimension for uniformity and ease of use. Risers and treads should be big enough to step comfortably, not too high and should stay consistent. Edges and trims should be distinct, using a different colour is a good idea. Steps should also be slip resistant and have proper lighting for use of all times of the day and night.
Landings are used in busy areas such as front gates or the top and bottom of steps. At these places we are often holding keys, groceries, the mail and so on which can restrict our movement and visibility. Hence it is important that a landing allows enough room for movement, the opening of a gate or door. As per steps they should be slip resistant and well lit.
Gardens and path edging can deteriorate causing sharp and dangerous edges. These can be easily fixed by replacing or rearranging the materials so that they are safe. If edging is beyond repair it is best to replace with new material that is safe.
With a little bit of planning and modification your garden can be a safe place to relax and unwind. At first the list of modifications can seem daunting and solutions confusing. Talk to the friendly and experienced Lawn and Garden Maintenance team at East Coast Accessibility Experts. They can help sort through the many options and offer you advice and information. Once a plan has been agreed on they will work with you to achieve a safe and enjoyable garden to suit your needs.