People who have mobility issues or who need to use crutches or wheelchairs benefit greatly if a yard has adequate hardscaping that allows them to move wherever they want without encountering obstacles. However, the hardscaping needs to be planned and installed properly lest environmental conditions end up damaging the hardscaping.
Read on to learn how to plan your hardscaping in order to increase your yard’s accessibility.
Prepare to Fight Frost Heave
Most people know that Wisconsin gets cold, but people often don't realize that the cold can affect the soil under hardscaping.
When temperatures drop below freezing, the moisture in the soil can freeze down to a certain depth, which is called the frost line, or that line below which the soil won't freeze. As ice expands below the frost line, it pushes everything out of its way, including the soil above it. So if the ice expands and lifts up soil, any hardscaping on top of that soil is going to get lifted up, too.
A minor frost heave might not do much damage, but a strong push can crack concrete. Any hardscaping, be it a concrete patio or a retaining wall, needs to be installed so that frost heave won't be a problem. A landscaping company can install specific foundations for the hardscaping that sink below the frost line.
Ensure Retaining Walls Have Good Drainage
Retaining walls can hold back soil so that pathways can gently slope down to other parts of the yard. But if the drainage behind and under the walls isn't good, the soil can shift, causing the wall to shift, too. And if you're on the walkway by that wall, you do not want concrete suddenly tilting over you.
But as long as the area under and around the wall has drainage that prevents runoff from eroding soil or making the soil too soft for the weight of the wall, then the wall should be fine. A landscaping company can plan the drainage accordingly.
Prevent Landscaping Interference
Plants next to the pathways not only need to be trimmed back regularly — you don't want errant branches whacking people in the face as they move along the path — but they also need to be planted far enough back from the hardscaping that the roots don't poke their way up through the concrete.
Smaller shrubs have roots that might not be that much of a foe of concrete, but trees and larger shrubs can do some damage. No matter what you want to plant, you've got to pay attention to what will happen to the roots over time. Those trees and other plants that are supposed to have aggressive, strong roots should go far away from the concrete.
Measure Between Beds and Other Features
The hardscaping has to be wide enough to allow multiple people to pass each other, whether there is a wheelchair or pair of crutches in the mix. When you start thinking about the layout you'd like, make pathways very wide and keep yard features like flowerbeds spaced out well. A landscaping company can help you create specific plans.
Add a Place to Sit
And finally, consider having some benches scattered around the yard. Not only will people with accessibility problems who can't stand for long appreciate the opportunity to sit and enjoy different parts of the yard, but those benches will give everyone some nice lounging spots on beautiful days.
Have a professional landscaping company look at your yard, and you'll find sensible plans taking shape soon after. Don't assume those with mobility issues don't want to venture into the yard — make the hardscaping accessible, and your yard will be, too.
A skilled landscaping company like J & L Landscaping can help plan an accessible yard. Call us today to get started.