Gardening for the Visually Impaired
There are many adaptive techniques that allow the severely visually impaired to better enjoy being in the garden and caring for their plants. It can be frustrating for the visually impaired to work on the simplest gardening tasks, but these tips will make it a wonderful experience again!
Designing your Garden
A grid design is best for designing a garden, over irregular or curved shapes. It may be a good idea to consider creating several small beds instead of a large single bed, because this will be easier to maintain, and make it easier to tell where you stopped weeding or planting.
Try to create your pathways out of packed mulch, pea gravel, or concrete as opposed to cobblestone or brick, as this can cause tripping. There are so many options for safer materials that it will not compromise style!
Try to avoid a design with steps of any kind, but is there is no other choice, make sure they are evenly spaced, include a non-tick material, and have railings on both sides.
A sound path is a great idea for your garden. Noise making garden features would include objects like wind chimes, fountains, pinwheels or weather vanes. Sound elements will help you to stay on your path or find your way back!
Plant Choices and Locations
You will want to add plants that have distinctive colors, shapes, or smells to help determine them from weeds. To create a ground cover, you will want to choose plants that a very different from weeds. If you have a lot of ragweed, try a low ground cover like phlox, so weeds are taller and stand out.
Try grouping your plants in sets of 3 or 4, as this will also help you to determine what needed tended too, and what can be pulled out. Place a string on two pegs that runs from opposite ends of the bed, to help you plant in a straight line.
If you plan on having several beds in your grid, consider having a friend or lumber yard create a stencil for you by adding evenly spaced holes in a piece of plywood. Simply set the stencil in your garden and drop your seeds into the holes in the plywood.
Once your seeds are planted, Braille, will help you to remember what is planted in each bed.
After you have planted your seeds, the next step is to make sure you have proper tools to care for your plants, while creating a safe environment. Consider some of the following:
- Short Handled tools with light colored handles: Tools with handles less than two feet long allow you to feel with one hand and cultivate with the other, use white or pastel colored handles so they stand out from the soil.
- Knee pads - These are great for protecting your joints and adding comfort
- Syringes with Raised Markings: The raised markings will help you to acuratly measure the correct amounts of fertilizers or other liquid applications
- Magnifying Glass, flashlight, and mechanical seed sower: When loading seeds into the seed sower, it is much easier with lighting and magnification. Keep white and black paper on hand to contrast the different seed colors to make it easier to see and work with them.