Summer and the Time is Right …

“For dancing in the streets” OK boomers we all remember that oldie moldy but goldie.{{more}}

Let’s get outside with some ideas guided by Universal Design Principles and maximize our enjoyment of the yards we’ve spent years tending. There are many assistive devices for sitting, scooting, and reaching. What can we incorporate into the plans and layouts of our outdoor spaces that will be there all the time?

Grassed surfaces are not off limits. Cellular concrete pavers are used to create parking areas with grass grown in the voids; you can use them to make walking paths that won’t muddy in wet weather. Another product, GRASSPROTECTA™ grass reinforcement mesh is a thick plastic mesh supplied on a roll that is installed directly onto existing grass to protect, reinforce and stabilize the grass against damage caused by traffic. Also, consider using this with mulch or small stone fill to create a naturalized accessible path.

Stone pavers can be slick when wet. If you want natural stone surfaces, select the type and finish carefully and make sure to set them to drain off water. Avoid making steps in the path.

Gardening activities are quite adaptable and you’ll find helpful discussions at the Accessible Gardening Forum Tired of bending and kneeling? Construct raised beds. They can be made with masonry, wood, or landscaping timbers. Use almost any exterior material that will retain a volume between 18 and 30 inches high. A sloped site might lend itself to a terraced layout with the uphill planting bed held in place with a low retaining wall. Plan the layout in strips, pie wedges, or mazes so that you can reach all parts of the planting area from the walking path. Create your paths to give you the room to work and move materials and tools.

Provide water supply piping to hose bibs located conveniently at your potting area and among the beds. This will eliminate having hoses crossing paths. Also fit those hose faucets with lever handles for easier turning.

Think of your garden and potting areas they way you would think about your kitchen. Plan storage for tools and materials so that they can be easy to access and move. Keep hand tools within standing or sitting reach, depending on your working style. Put potting soil and soil admixtures in bins with large openings so they can be scooped out in manageable amounts.

Container constructed water features allow you to add coolness and a pleasant sounds to any corner of your yard or patio. Any container will work as long as it will hold water. Some choices include different sized plastic flowerpots, granite bowls and pans, and Rubber Maid storage containers. Keep in mind that all electrical work, lighting and outlets should be done by a qualified electrician.

ANDREW ROBINSON AIA Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist, is an architect and founder of Designs for Independent Living and a member of the board of the Orange Economic Develop Commission. Call 203-795-0665.