When you’re thinking about an accessible home, outside adaptations can get overlooked.

Toilets, stairs and beds are likely to come top of the list. And fair enough. But being able to enjoy the garden and outdoor spaces can offer joy for people with reduced mobility and is fantastic for health and well-being. 

So how can you transform an outside space? What do you need to consider when making your garden accessible?

Keep reading as we cover the main focus areas of outside adaptations.

Getting In & Out

There’s no point in converting a garden to be more user-friendly if an individual can’t get there, so ease of access is key.

When planning your adaptations, consider whether these features might be necessary. 

Wider Doorways

The widths and angles of narrow doorways can be difficult for people with limited mobility to manoeuvre. Sometimes even impossible if they use a wheelchair or walking aid. 

So, widening a property’s back or front door makes the outdoors accessible for everyone. 

Garden Gates

As well as the door to the house being wide enough, you’ll need to give any garden gates some attention, too. Is it easy to gain access through it? Is the latch or lock reachable? 

Ramps & Thresholds

Does the property have a raised threshold? What about a set of steps leading down to the garden or outside space? There might even be a very steep or sloping path or driveway that would be impossible to navigate safely.

To adapt these areas of the property a ramp or lift will likely need to be installed. And there are options! You might want to consider a metal modular ramp for easy installation over any landscape, or a step lift if you’re dealing with a simple foot of raised threshold height. Whatever the property setup, there’s a home access solution out there to suit every need.

Door Access And LocksOperating doors and locks can be tricky when your range of movement is limited. Sight loss, reduced strength and having the use of one hand rather than two are just some of the reasons why adapting the door itself might do wonders for enhancing independence.

A key turner could provide a simple solution. These clever tools extend the length of a key to provide more comfort and leverage for the user. Similarly, installing door handles to replace doorknobs can be helpful as they are easier to manipulate. 

In some cases, users may benefit from an automatically opening door being fitted. This can be life-changing for users who aren’t able to reach or operate a standard door and lock at all. Automatic doors can be operated by a key fob, remote control and even tools which are operated by the user sucking or puffing into them. 

Door intercom systems are another adaptation that can benefit users who find it takes them a long time to get to their front door. This way, they can avoid missing post, deliveries and visitors by communicating that they’re on their way.


Improving the visibility of entrances and pathways is especially useful for those living with visual impairment and memory loss.

Proper lighting makes actions like following a path, locating a door or handrail and using a lock much easier. Lights that come on automatically as you approach an area, or lights that switch on as soon as it starts to get dark outside, also take away the stress of a user having to remember to operate them at all. 

Grab Rails

Not just limited to internal adaptations, grab rails can help to provide support for those with limited mobility in outside spaces too. Though they can be installed almost anywhere that they’re needed, grab rails are the perfect way to make a set of steps much safer for a user.

Getting Around Your Garden

So we’ve covered getting in and out of the house itself. You are now within reach of the birdsong, fresh air and outdoor activities. 

But what about moving around the garden? Ensuring a garden or outside space is easy and safe to navigate means users can dine outside, soak up the early morning sunshine or get back to some much-loved gardening. 

One-Level Gardens

The answer to outside adaptations is quite often a one-level garden. Flat garden areas are easier to plan and suit most people. You can have a patio area as well as a lawn, and it’s safe and simple to move between them. 

Split-Level Gardens

A one-level garden isn’t always possible or desired, and that’s okay. The access problems of split-level gardens are easily solved with a ramp if there is a gentle incline, or non-slip half steps if more suited to the landscape. An outside stairlift can even be installed if the drop is significant or steps aren’t suitable for the user.

Ground Surfaces 

Did you know that some types of grass are more difficult to move a wheelchair on than others? It’s worth doing some homework before you buy, as well as considering artificial grass, which eliminates the potential hazard of individuals having to walk or wheel across slippery mud.

Gravel and wood should aren’t suitable for accessible gardens. Instead, opt for concrete, tarmac and professionally-laid patio slabs. These are all cost-effective, low-maintenance and safe alternatives that aren’t difficult to walk on or slippery when wet.

When it comes to pathways, raised edges and contrasting colours can help distinguish between path and lawn. Pathways also need to be wide enough for two people, or a wheelchair user and another individual, to move on side-by-side. 

Small Adaptations

Grab rails and handrails don’t have to be utilitarian and can be sourced in materials from natural woods to striking metals, depending on your preferred style. Having grab rails installed around the outside area provide extra stability if needed, without imposing on the feel of the garden. 

Another small but useful adaptation is outside lighting, which can be inlaid to planters or along paths, gently guiding users around the area safely. 

Enjoying Your Space

Spending time enjoying the gifts of the outdoors can work wonders for health and well-being. Here are some ideas for garden features that encourage interaction.

Raised Flowerbeds And Planters

Bringing the soil level up to a reachable height is a great way of making gardening accessible. If the user can reach the raised bed from each side, a width of 1m is around the manageable maximum, but this still provides plenty of growing space.

Outdoor Pool

Should you have the space for a pool in your garden, beach access or walk-in pools are the easiest designs for people with reduced mobility because they require the least assistance.


Chairs and benches stationed around outside spaces look attractive but also provide much-needed resting spaces for people with reduced mobility. Accessible picnic-style benches are also a very popular addition.

Placing garden furniture in the shade, and ensuring all pieces are made from durable materials, will get the best out of your purchases for years to come.

Garden Maintenance

Any outdoor spaces must be easy to look after so that they can continue to be loved and used without worry or stress. Consider these factors when planning your outside adaptations.

Grass Vs Artificial Lawn

Not only can grass be difficult to move across for wheelchair users, but it also needs a regular trim. Is a lawnmower going to be difficult to manage? Is there help to keep up with the maintenance? If the answer is no, you may want to consider an artificial lawn.

Fences Vs Hedges

It’s not just grass that needs a haircut every so often. Hedges and bushes can quickly become overgrown and unmanageable, so make sure to think about what will work best in the long run.

Sprinklers & Self-Watering Plant Pots 

A garden is a beautiful thing, but it needs TLC to look its best and stay usable. Both sprinklers and self-watering plant pots can take the stress out of regular manual watering.

It’s Not Just Inside That Matters 

Outside spaces are as much part of the home as the rooms inside it, and improving their accessibility will make a huge difference to their user’s mental, physical and emotional health.

At the John Ford Group, we know that planning outside adaptations can feel a bit overwhelming. Have you reached a stumbling block? Not sure whether you need a ramp or a step lift? Read our recent blog to find out if a step lift will meet your needs.