How to: enjoy gardening with a disability

With the warmer weather well on the way now, gardening can be a fun and easily accessible hobby for people with limited mobility. With a Motability Scheme vehicle, you have a great opportunity to pursue gardening as a hobby and meet people with similar interests, enjoying the outdoors. There are even studies showing that gardening can ease depression and improve self-esteem! Here are our tips for getting into gardening and how the Motability Scheme can help.

Why gardening?

Gardening can be a relaxing hobby that many people find a lot of joy in— and you can too! Gardener’s World magazine interviewed 1500 people and found that 80% of them reported being happy, much higher than non-gardeners.

BBC Gardener’s World presenter Monty Don, who has spoken publicly about his struggles with depression, has found gardening very soothing: “Earth heals. You put your hands in the soil and it’s medicine. You’re recharging all the bits that need recharging, topping up and healing. You are being looked after and you’re looking after the earth so it’s a symbiotic relationship and it’s powerful.”

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Gardening can be very relaxing and alleviate stress

There is even a charity, Thrive, that uses gardening to bring about positive changes in the lives of people living with disabilities or ill health, or who are isolated, disadvantaged or vulnerable. It sets out to promote the healing powers of gardening, especially to people with disabilities.

Accessible gardening

Today, gardening is more accessible and inclusive than ever, with the growing recognition that there are many ways to make gardening an enjoyable hobby for everyone.

There are several ways to make gardens more accessible, such as installing ramps, wide paths and raised beds that would make accessing all areas easier for gardeners with limited mobility.

Specialist tools and equipment are also available to help with designing and adapting your garden, and many organisations offer advice, demonstrations and training to help you build the garden of your dreams. There’s lots of advice and contact information on this subject on the Royal Horticultural Society website.

Flowers, shrubs or vegetables?

If you decide to take up gardening in your front or back garden, think first about what sort of garden you want to create. Perhaps you like what you already have and want to maintain it, or maybe you want a change?

Man picking tomatoes

You’d be surprised how much produce you can grow yourself!

For beautiful plants and flowers, this is the time to sow seeds for plants such as sunflowers for them to come up in time for Summer and give your garden a burst of colour. To ease yourself into this hobby and start off with a low maintenance—but still high enjoyment!—garden, perhaps go for tubs and shrubs rather than flower beds which can be more labour-intensive.

Maybe your idea of gardening is less about flowers and more about produce. Now is a good time to plant potatoes which grow in most soils and climates. You can also grow other vegetables such as carrots, radishes, tomatoes and onions and have yourself a full-blown allotment in no time. What could be nicer than eating food you’ve grown yourself?

Or do you want to see bees and butterflies enjoying your plants? Check out the Royal Horticultural Society’ website for advice on how to attract them and how to ward off bugs, slugs and even unwelcome visits from next door’s cat.

Gardening if you live in a flat

If you live in a flat or sheltered housing and don’t have access to your own garden, you can still enjoy this hobby. You could cultivate a window box, tubs for your balcony, hanging baskets, or even get an allotment. The National Allotment Society has lots of advice on how to join a waiting list for an allotment in your local area and apply to make a new allotment space if there isn’t already one available.

Scarecrow at the allotments

Find out if your local council has an allotment you can use

Join a club

There are gardening clubs all over the country. So as well as an enjoyable and useful hobby, you could make new like-minded friends and learn all sorts of useful information from experts, such as what kind of soil works best for which plants and flowers. You can find your nearest gardening club here.

How the Scheme can help

The Motability Scheme allows you to exchange your mobility allowance to lease a car, scooter or powered wheelchair. Many Scheme customers find their vehicles useful for day to day activities such as going to work, shopping, or visiting family and friends, so why not also use your vehicle to visit your local gardening club or allotment?

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The Motability Scheme offers everyday freedom to pursue your hobbies

Motability Scheme Customer Sandra says that since she’s had her Motability Scheme, car she’s hardly ever home because she loves driving and makes very good use of her vehicle to enjoy her gardening hobby.

“My local park has a massive horticultural centre and when I was fit I used to grow vegetables and all sorts. I can’t do it now, but a woman who runs the greenhouse got me some raised beds. So I go there in my Scheme car and it’s like the Day of the Triffids! I’ve got radishes, onions, four or five different types of tomatoes. I don’t think there’s anything we haven’t got.”

You can find out if you can join the Motability Scheme using our eligibility checker and request a free information pack to find out more about what the Scheme can do for you.

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