Accessible Gardening

 Disability Stockport folded leaflet

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Raised beds at Cheslyn Hey Allotments in the West Midlands 

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Click the image for Cheslyn Hey Community Allotments website Shot 2014-11-08 at 19.41.11

Access 4 All Project at Cheadle Old Rd Allotments

FUNDING from The Lottery Awards For All (£10,000), Edgeley & Cheadle Heath Community First (£1,400), Waitrose (£250), Asda (£50), bag packing at Asda (£250). We got help with labouring from Stockport Probation Community Payback team, under the supervision of the allotment’s Project Co-ordinator at all times.


Kieran McMahon, from Disability Stockport advised us “A bit of time spent at the design stage really pays off.  It is most important to site facilities so that accessible provisions are connected at all points i.e. It is no good having an adapted toilet if you cannot reach it from the accessible plot. Where acceptable compromises can’t be reached, good information will allow disabled people to make their own choices if it is suitable for them or not.”

“It is unlikely that all areas of an allotment site can be made completely accessible to everyone.  Input from disabled people and organisations will help identify ways to minimise barriers so that the vast majority can enjoy the same activities as everyone else. Adaptations or equipment for individuals may help to overcome any remaining problems.”

 ACCESSIBLE RAISED BEDS in a 90 square metre area for gardeners who consider themselves to be disabled – we wanted adjustable raised beds to suit gardeners with different needs.  We laid a wheelchair accessible surface in the whole area with a hard-wearing, permeable surface, so there is no puddling. It is easily repaired if it wears unevenly.

  • We built a retaining wall on the edge of the plot so we could level it. A trench was excavated and concrete footings 2 ft wide x 4 in deep x approx. 22 yds long were laid.
  • For the retaining wall 2 ft high x 18 in wide x 22 yds, concrete blocks were laid in two rows with a weak mortar mix and hardcore in between.  For drainage, put plastic wastepipe (with a filter on the earthside) every 3’ through the wall above the finished ground level. Also, peagravel behind the wall helps stop the drainage holes blocking.
  • A 2 ft wide flagged footpath was laid on the retaining wall to access adjacent plots. From the drive, the path was ramped 1:10 for the first 6 metres, then level for the remaining path.
  • We built a safety fence to avoid the danger of people falling off the retaining wall.
  • We removed and recycled the weeds, soil, rubbish and stones, and levelled the area to allow for rainwater run-off (1:40 gradient), just to make sure as the surface is permeable.
  • We put in a level line of flagstones on edge between the drive and the accessible area.
  • We excavated a spade width channel and laid an extension water pipe and tap in the area.
  • We excavated 2 large holes, filled with hardcore for soakaways – one under the tap.
  • Then I excavated 5” from the whole area, and placed a gully and grating under the tap.
  • We laid TDP115 geotextile to consolidate our sandy surface (£67.02 +vat from Axons).
  • We barrowed 20 tonnes of 40mm – dust Type 1 reduced fines MOT throughout (£245 + vat from Marchington Stone Ltd, Buxton Rd, High Lane SK6 8DX 01663 765000 – this included delivery).
  • The level was adjusted, whackered (or rolled) and then I adjusted it again to make sure.
  • For the top 1”, we laid 6 tons Hopath (£146 +vat from J Hopkins, Mercury Way, Trafford Park, Manchester 0161 746 7332 / – this included delivery) – we were short, 8 tons was needed. The area was carefully levelled and whackered (or rolled) again.

John Rowland, SMBC Countryside Officer said “MOT type 1 is a neutral stone which will not affect the PH of the surrounding soil. Hopath is a man-made material which I have used on a number of projects and is a really good medium which being recycled does not draw on any new materials that need to be excavated. It looks natural as blends in looking like soil.”  

 Accessible Garden March 2012

Accessible Garden March 2012

 Accessible Garden September 2013

Accessible Garden September 2013 









We found out from Thrive, a national charity working to help people living with disabilities or mental health problems transform their lives through gardening (, that individual gardeners with disabilities need raised beds of different heights:

  • 900-1000mm for standing
  • 690-760mm for sitting
  • 615mm for wheelchair users

Also, 1 metre width is needed for paths between raised beds with room for turning circles.  Some wheelchairs or buggies are bigger and 1.25m may be needed.

  • We got 18 of 1000mm x 1000mm x 615mm high 8:1 re-use polypropylene plain white bags with no loops, made to order (from Judi Kelly, Industrial Bulk Containers, Newton Business Park, Talbot Rd, Hyde SK14 4UQ 0161 367-8695). Cost around £9 per bag.
  • With the bags upside down, we used a blowtorch to put holes in for drainage, spraying with water.
  • We cut 1m x 0.7m sheets of 10mm twinwall haze polycarbonate MHE1007WH to fit all round the bags (£4.46 per sheet from C&A Building Plastics mail order 0845 1651658).
  • We taped the open edges with TA10 Aluminium tape @ £1.35 per 10m roll.
  • The bags were gradually filled with stones for drainage, then horse manure, compost that needed burying, then topsoil. We got 13 tonnes of topsoil – around £160 + VAT from Huperade Ltd 0161 980 5350 – this included delivery.


We also bought:

  • 6’x3’ Asgard Vangard Heavy Duty metal shed with 10 hooks and 2 shelves, insurance standard security £586 – this included vat and delivery.
  • Aluminium potting table £41.49 from Two Wests & Elliott
  • Radius set of 4 ergonomic hand tools, Radius ergonomic fork, Easy Grip Garden Tool Fork by Essential Aids – £61.01 direct from Amazon.
  • The plotholder got her own funding for an accessible greenhouse with staging from the Gardening for the Disabled Trust, PO Box 285, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN2 9JD. The gardener with the disability applies themselves with a simple letter. The funding was paid direct to Barretts Leisure who supplied the greenhouse – all ordered online.

CSL PORTABLE ACCESSIBLE TOILET with baby changing facilities £2040 (includes vat & del) from Convenience Services Ltd, Office 7 Slington House, Rankine Rd, Basingstoke RG24 8PH

We installed a portaloo with baby changing facilities to improve access for people with disabilities and families with small children as there is room for a child and adult to be in the toilet together. We got a sink too, although only cold water, it is useful for people to get mud off their hands so they can use the loo!


“In nearly every situation most of the time and money spent on accessibility benefits everyone and produces a more sustainable and successful asset for the community” Kieran McMahon, Disability Stockport

Portaloo emptying & servicing costs £30 from Kensite Services Ltd 01942 878747


  • We laid approx. 80yds 10” x 5” road kerbs alongside the roadway. Drop kerbs were laid at the entrance to each allotment plot, cut at an angle at each side of the dropped kerbs.
  • The kerbs were laid on a concrete base and backed up both front and rear with concrete. It took 2 people to lay them.
  • We barrowed 40 tonnes of 40mm – dust sub-base MOT throughout the drive and car park and then we levelled and rolled it (£440 + VAT from Marchington Stone Ltd, Buxton Rd, High Lane SK6 8DX 01663 765000 – this includes delivery).
  • We hired a Bomag 55 pedestrian petrol Roller for one day (£55 + vat + £7.50 each way delivery from Easy Hire Stockport 0161 477-9315 – credit card details and 2 forms of ID with a home address on them were needed. Next day delivery service, instructions on its use was given on site. It was reasonably easy to use once you got the hang of it, 2 women did the work. The machine broke down twice, but Easy Hire sent out an engineer very quickly and gave us an extra day to use the roller.

photo 1

Patricia Scott
Cheadle Old Road Allotments
December 2013

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