Regular readers to this blog will know that our bungalow didn’t have level garden access and eventually this prevented Mr Wheel Chic Home from getting out into the garden. We tried a metal temporary ramp, we tried bits of wood but in the end it became clear we needed to bite the bullet and get the landscapers in to make the garden accessible so that we could both use the garden.
For the past nine months MR WCH has been working from home as his company closed their local office, as he’s a IT Development Manager he’s able to easily work from home but at the moment the kitchen table is full of his equipment.
As we have a purpose built office at the end of the garden we wanted to get the garden accessible so he can get in there with his gear and separate work from home. Also I’d love my kitchen table back!
The office has been decorated inside, painted on the outside, the space themed gallery wall is up – we are waiting for flooring to be laid so once it’s all together and finished I’ll do a blog post on it.
For now, let’s talk accessible gardens! You might remember the ‘before’ blog post – where I detailed some of the issues and some of our plans.
The main issue was the back doors leading from the kitchen to the garden. There was a step down and a step up, with ugly 1970’s rocks and loose slabs on the top. These were the first things to go and have been replaced by sleepers.
The whole of the side of the house was replaced with a paved ramp which meets a new deck made from composite boards. This is a gently sloping ramp and allows Mr WCH to get into the house without navigating the steps at the front door. He’s been using it most days since it’s been built. It’s such a game changer, I can’t describe how much it’s changed the way we use the house, the garden and Mr WCH can now even put the recycling out! Win Win!
It’s paved three quarters of way up, and meets the decking. To go any further with paving would have covered the air bricks and damp proofing course, which would cause issues in the home, so the paving perfectly meets the decking cleanly, just missing the air bricks and damp proofing and without any steps or trip hazards.
It’s a bold colour change but actually I like it. We had always decided on Black for the decking to give a modern look so there was always going to be a contrast.
To follow the black decking, I painted the sleepers with Cuprinol ‘Black Ash’ wood stain and it’s easy to paint on and will safely last a year or two before needing another coat.
Then, onto the main event and the decking itself. The 70’s crazy paving was pulled up, the base was levelled, covered with a weed preventing membrance and then the framing was built.
We decided to put the decking all the way across to the back bedroom door to give a sense of continuity and to keep things simple. It also means that should he need to, that he can get out the back bedroom door as well.
We chose composite decking because it has little need for maintenance, no painting, and has a high non-slip rating. It’s more expensive than regular decking boards (the area we have covered was about £1500, probably twice the price of regular wood) but we decided to take the plunge for the ease of maintenance.
We also decided to go with decking over a concrete patio for drainage reasons, as our home is on a hill we needed to make sure rain water drained away though the deck and not into the kitchen!
To make the decking a usable size, we dug out some of the grass about half a metre or so, this gives us a nice space for the two of us to sit out on summer evenings or lazy Sunday mornings.
We also decided to recess the drain cover and make it invisible by using the same paving inside the cover.
The deck is perfectly level with the kitchen door, allowing Mr WCH easy access in and out and onto the path.
The path has been widened for the wheelchair and we’ve reused as many slabs as possible, to keep some of the costs in check. My advice is to make sure you measure your wheelchair to give indication of the size of path you’ll need.
At the top of the garden, the slope to the office door has been re-graded, and rebuilt, making it a much longer and gentler slope than before. We now have level access into the office, and an easier way onto the main deck. The access to the deck has been amended and we’ve filled the gap between deck and paving, before this Mr WCH would sometimes get stuck.
This means he can get to the large deck when we have larger gatherings and when it’s just the two of us we can relax easily on the smaller deck.
He is able to come and go to the office easily and I know he’s safe in doing so. Also a bonus that he can put the rubbish out! A little inconsequential thing like that actually made him happy, it’s been so long since he was able to get out to the garden without help. A number of years, for sure.
The new garden has made such a change to our lives already! Below is a series of before and after photos.
Let me know if you’ve converted your garden to make it accessible, I’d love to hear your stories!
Side Path to/from the Gate:
Exit from the Kitchen Patio Doors
The widening of the path:
The new ramp to the office: