Tips for Your Outdoor Spaces
As a child, I enjoyed spending time outdoors with my grandmother. We would water plants, hang laundry on the clothesline, power wash the sidewalk, and drink Pepsi on the porch swing while barefoot. When she became older and moved to a 1960's ranch style house, I remember her enjoying the outdoors when the weather was "just right". Although her new house seemed like it was easy for her to move around at first, my grandmother began experiencing more problems with arthritis throughout her body which limited her movement.
Despite living in a ranch style house, it was difficult for her to manage the two stairs to enter and exit the house at the garage entrance or front door. She would need a person to help open the door and place her walker at the top or bottom of the stairs. Therefore, my grandmother was only able to go outside when she had someone to help her. The house had a patio in the backyard connected to the basement entry, but my grandmother could no longer manage the stairs to the basement even with two handrails for support.
The only option to spend time outdoors was to sit in the garage with the door open. My grandmother did not mind sitting in the garage, but I do recall her missing her porch and swing on occasion.
There are times where I wish I could go back and make a beautiful, accessible outdoor space for my grandmother. But I can still help others enjoy time outdoors for years to come!
When creating outdoor spaces for people to spend time and visit, I think about how important it is to include people of all abilities. The picture above is a perfect example of what I would do for my grandmother's ranch house. It has the following features:
Graded sidewalk with a gentle slope to the front door.
36 inch front door for wheelchair or walker accessibility.
Side window next to the front door to view visitors.
Large portico to protect people from rain or sunshine.
Chairs with armrests and a table for spending time outdoors.
Overhead lighting by the door.
Lighting near the sidewalk to clearly define the pathway.
Five foot wide sidewalk to accommodate wheelchair users or walkers.