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Planning your garden

Choosing plants

Choosing low-maintenance plants will make things easier if you go on holiday or into hospital, or if don’t feel up to gardening for a while. Plants like elephant’s ears, cranesbill, lavender and periwinkle backed by shrubs such as barberry, escallonia, senecio and viburnum can take care of themselves for long periods once their roots are deep in the soil.

Create a wildlife area using wildflower seeds, which don’t usually need tending. This is also good for bringing wildlife into your garden.

There are a number of books and websites on low-maintenance gardening which will suggest plants that don’t need a great deal of attention.

Paths and beds

It's a good idea to have firm paths alongside beds and borders, especially if you find it difficult to keep your balance on uneven ground, so you can tend to most of the area without having to step onto the soil. Non-slip paving slabs make safe paths and they can be used for shallow steps where the ground level changes. Wooden handrails alongside steps are also helpful.

The beds should be quite narrow so you can reach the middle and back without stretching.

If you find it difficult to bend to ground level or need to work from a wheelchair, a raised bed would be helpful. If you have a sloping garden, you can make a terrace by building a low wall and filling behind with soil, which has the effect of making a raised bed. Even raising the soil level a small amount will make the bed easier to manage.

If you need a wheelbarrow, choosing one with two wheels and a bar-type handle can be helpful. The weight of the contents rests mainly on the axle rather than on your arms. This type of barrow is more stable and easier to empty without bending down or twisting.

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