Accessibility and therapeutic gardening

woman in a wheelchair and standing woman working in a gardenPicture: Toronto Rehab Centre garden

Accessibility and therapeutic gardening are two distinct but intertwined concepts. 

Gardening can be very healing for people who face physical or mental illness, or are experiencing the effects of poverty, marginalization and other stressors. However garden accessibility is not limited to spaces meant for healing. It’s also for healthy people who have mobility or sensory restrictions and removing barriers within public spaces, work places and homes. 

The strategies for increasing all kinds of access and creating welcoming spaces often overlap, so we have included links for both on one page.

Provincial accessibility laws

Note: Ontario is the first Canadian province to pass a law to improve accessibility - the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Requirements vary according to size and type of organization, but don't assume it doesn't apply to you! Find out more about expectations for private businesses, non-profit organizations and government bodies at the provincial government site

A google search will turn up many consultants who will help you comply with AODA (for a fee).

EnAbling Nonprofits Ontario has info about AODA and different dimensions of increasing accessibility. 

The City of Toronto has detailed guidelines on designing for accessibility.

Enabling gardening

Waterloo's Guide to Barrier-free Community Gardening

Articles and links on accessiblity & gardening. 

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation have a page on Gardening from a Wheelchair.

Therapeutic gardening

Let's Grow: Gardening Activities to Promote Mental Health, Healthy Eating and Physical Activity - a manual put out by Central Toronto Community Health Centres. Includes a section on cultivating therapeutic spaces.

Gardening for Life is a consulting and horticultural therapy business run by Margaret Nevett

Page updated on 2023-06-12 10:46:03