by Connor Courtien, RDPFS Intern
Now that spring is in full swing, it’s the perfect time to do some gardening, whether you’re a novice or a green-thumbed veteran. If you have a visual impairment and have never gardened before, or have some experience, but could use some additional tips, here are some pointers. First, consider using containers to store your plants instead of planting directly into soil. This is much easier than digging garden beds, and each container provides a natural separator between each plant, making them much easier to differentiate. To make identifying plants even easier, place labels on each container in either large print or braille, whichever best suits your needs. Finally, consider using “marker” plants in the garden – those with a distinct, unique smell or tactile feel – to act as anchors within your garden, making it simpler to stay organized and oriented. You can buy containers or, better yet, use recyclable items you have around the house from takeout or groceries. To check out more tips on gardening with a visual impairment, look at this article from VisionAware on Gardening After Vision Loss: Tips from an Experienced Blind Gardener.
Setting Up Your Garden
Whether or not you have a visual impairment, another aspect to consider is how to design and structure your garden to enhance its enjoyment for those with vision loss. For a larger garden it is important to make walkways straight to allow for simple navigation. It’s also helpful to keep plants encased in borders, such as by using containers, as mentioned above, and to limit the width of each section to about three feet, to allow for easy access from either side. While you probably want to choose plants that have a strong scent for a greater sensory experience, don’t overdo it, as too many strong smells can be overwhelming. A final tip is to include additional features such as wind chimes and waterfalls in your garden to guide those with visual impairments, as well as to contribute to the overall level of immersion. To read more about curating a garden, while keeping those with visual impairments in mind, check out this article from Gardening Know How on Visually Impaired Gardens – How To Create A Fragrant Garden For The Blind.