Horticultural Therapy

This garden at a hospital features a gardening therapy program for patients in rehabilitation.
gardening therapy for patients in rehabilitation

gardening therapy for patients in rehabilitation

Being outside and working with plants is a fabulous way for people with physical or emotional challenges to learn new skills or regain lost skills.

Horticultural Healing

More and more, health-care professionals are recognizing what gardeners have always instinctively known: gardening is good not only for the soul but also for the body.

Horticultural or garden therapy is widely recognized and is used in hospitals, rehab centers, prisons, nursing homes and schools across the country. One excellent source of information on horticultural therapy is the American Horticultural Therapy Association. If you're an able-bodied gardener with time and energy to give to your community, you may want to volunteer at a local horticultural therapy garden.

Adapting a Garden

gardening is adapted for folks with disabilities

gardening is adapted for folks with disabilities

For a person with a physical disability, a garden can often be adapted so that he or she can still garden with ease.

Solid paths can be made to accommodate wheelchairs, and raised beds can make a vegetable garden a pleasure for chair-bound individuals. Raised beds that are about 30" to 36" tall are a good choice. Typically, beds that can be accessed from at least three sides can be about two arm-lengths deep and still be fully accessible. Raised beds that can be accessed from only one side should be shallower (about one arm-length deep) so the gardener can reach in and work the entire bed without stretching.

Raised Beds

raised beds are good for growing vegetables

raised beds are good for growing vegetables

Raised beds are great in other ways, too. They're good for growing vegetables because they provide good drainage; in addition, the soil tends to warm up faster in the spring, which plants love.

Senior Gardening

raised beds are good for many older gardeners

raised beds are good for many older gardeners

Raised beds are also a boon for many older gardeners.

It's often difficult for older people to bend or stoop all the way to the ground. But raised beds eliminate that problem. Even raising beds as little as 18" or 20" in a home garden can make a difference in accessibility for an older person.

Next Up

Easier Gardening for Seniors

Learn about the benefits of raised beds and vertical gardening, the proper way to kneel and to bend, and how to position your hand when pruning to avoid wrist stress.

Raised Bed Gardens

A raised bed garden remains neat and tidy all season long with well-defined walking areas between the beds.

Block Planting Vegetables in Beds

An easy way to grow crops is in beds, where the gardener can focus on improving the soil, removing weeds and planting dense blocks of vegetables in a manageable, defined area.

Raised Beds for Easy Vegetable Cultivation

Not only do raised beds bring interesting height and structure to a garden design, they also elevate the level of the soil to make cultivation and harvesting your vegetables much less strenuous.

Tips for a Raised-Bed Vegetable Garden

Raised-bed vegetable gardening takes very little space and allows vegetables to be grown closer together.

DIY a Raised Bed Using Building Blocks

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Tips for Planting a Raised Bed

Almost any plant will grow well in a raised bed. Follow these tips for keeping plants healthy.

8 Awesome Raised Bed Ideas

Working with limited space or just want an easier way to grow delicious vegetables? A raised bed is just the ticket!

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