Beautiful landscaping is an enormous selling feature for any home. Both the lifespan and usability of your outdoor space can be extended by incorporating concepts of Universal Design into your landscaping.
Your overall layout should be the first point of consideration when designing your outdoor space. Consider what is available and what you wish to incorporate. Ask yourself valuable questions such as; how much space do I have available? Do I wish to incorporate an outdoor eating area? Will I have a need to include a play structure, a sand box, or swings? It is important to consider all levels of mobility to plan for maximum efficiency and flexibility in the space.
First and foremost, ensure stable and clear walking paths between design elements with enough clearance to accommodate the use of a mobility aid. Pathways should be a minimum of 42 inches wide, 48 inches is ideal. In certain areas when turning may be required, it is important to provide an area of 60 inches by 60 inches at a minimum. If you are able, a turning area of 83 inches by 83 inches will allow you to accommodate larger wheelchairs as well as power scooters. Designated seating areas will require a hazard free pathway and adequate clear space to allow a mobility aid user to both reach the space easily, as well as “park” their walker or wheelchair. These factors can also apply to garden structures such as decks and gazebos. Other helpful considerations include handrails and guard rails along decks and stairs, ramp features, and open counter dining features that can allow enough clearance for a wheelchair.
With an abundance of available surface materials to choose from, it is important that you carefully examine both the pros and cons of each material. Slip resistance, smoothness, ease of maintenance and resilience are a few of the factors that should be taken into account. Some surfaces may be better suited due to these factors and can greatly contribute to the overall accessibility of your space.
When selecting your landscaping features such as trees and other plants it is important to consider the ease of maintenance as well as how these features contribute to the overall safety of your outdoor space. Certain plants and trees can create hazards or debris in pathways which can be dangerous for anyone with reduced mobility or balance limitations. Maintenance requirements such as pruning or trimming can create a challenge for individuals living with a reduced mobility or other physical limitations. When planning your space, consider plant species with a smaller mature size or that require little or no regular maintenance.
These are only a few considerations to think about when designing or updating your outdoor space. By taking a moment to assess your current space and plan for the future, you can guarantee that anyone and everyone will be able to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors for years to come.
For more information on how you or a loved one can build a Home for Life™ please contact us.