Garden Spaces From Odd Places

If you think you don’t have room for a garden, think again. You may just have a spot that is a garden waiting to happen!

Ron Loughry, Director of an Adult Day Center in Louisville, KY wants an outdoor garden. His challenge: limited space, budget, and finding a sunny spot. The solution: Create a vertical garden! Place raised beds or containers along the length of the ramp base. Use lattice or trellising as a backing. (It also creates a storage space for supplies accessible from the other side.) Plant climbing vegetables & flowers for a garden that’s readily accessible by program participants.

This project can be accomplished in a number of ways.


Staff and volunteers with carpentry and other garden contracting skills can provide the beds & lattice along the rampway. Beds can be made of plastic lumber, stone, blocks or other materials. Create sections of beds with varied heights of the beds along the width of the rampway. This will accommodate folks in wheelchairs as well as those who can stand or pull up a chair. Be careful about the depth of the beds. Make sure the bed can be reached without leaning and putting stress on the lower back.


Create a finished look and a place for “vertical” gardening with trellis and lattice work. Please note that if you put the lattice behind a raised bed, be sure the depth of the bed allows for reaching the plants grown on it. You may consider creating a ground level bed with the latice backing so that folks can stand up and reach the vines.


Ron had a shady tree next to the proposed area. This would be a good spot to place a bench facing the bed for folks who can’t participate in the work, but want to watch. Make them a “supervisor” for the day! Many people derive satisfaction from just watching the garden being built. Once completed, they can be encouraged to plant, water and maintain the bed. Watching the progress also encourages ownership in the project.


1. Be sure you create the bed in a spot that is accessible to a water source.
2. Create the height of the bed according to the needs of the client…and plant. Plant tall plants in low containers to that someone in a wheelchair can access the plant.
3. An outdoor garden–no matter the size–allows for a complete garden experience: from planting to harvesting and the nurturing in between.

Setup Time8 hours
Completion Time8 hours
ResourcesHardscape materials for the beds: plastic lumber, concrete blocks, native stone, specialty blocks, etc.
Lattice/trellis material
Carpentry tools and hardware
Nice compost/soil mixture based on what will be planted.
Plants, seeds
Stakes, plant ties (depending on plants)
Plant fertilizer
Stay away from chemicals if at all possible. READ THE LABELS!
Benefitsfine and gross motor skills
socialization, team work
self-esteem, accomplishment
physical, outdoor exercise sensory stimulation
Skill LevelSomewhat Challenging

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