Aging in Place: Garage and Gardens

This is the sixth and final story from Fazzolari Custom Homes & Renovations in a series of articles about aging in place issues and how they relate to remodeling and new home construction.

Raised container gardens, such as this one from Cedar Creek, can be a great option for seniors who may not be able to stoop or kneel for long periods of time.

Many seniors are planning to live in their own homes throughout their lives. While an assisted living facility is an option, many like to keep their independence as long as they can. The decision to age in place is a big one and requires some planning. For some, it is the call of the outdoors that helps them decide to age in place. Only a few institutions allow their residents to keep a yard or a garden.

This article will give you an overview of considerations to remain in your home and enjoy your yard and garage safely. While not a complete list, this should at least give you a good idea of some changes you should be thinking about.

In the Beginning

The first recommendation is to hire a National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS), such as Fazzolari Custom Homes and Renovations. We have studied the issues and solutions to help make your garage and yard safer and more enjoyable as you advance in years.


The most important issue for folks aging in place is clutter. It is difficult to get rid of the “stuff” you’ve accumulated over the years, but now it is necessary. Maybe it is time to return some of your unused gifts to the giver. Ask your family if they have use for the things you are not using. Have a garage sale. Donate to charity. Clean out the clutter. You will find it easier to move around your house and garage if the way is clear.

Grab bars, Grab bars, and Grab bars

Add grab bars to the sides of your garage/house door, especially if there is a threshold or an elevations change. There are never too many grab bars. Add grab bars anyplace that you may be standing for a long time such as near the work bench.


Take a look at the work benches in your garage or potting shed. If you’re is going to sit while using the work bench, it should be 26 to 28 inches from the floor. People sitting in wheelchairs will need knee spaces at least 27 inches high, 30 inches wide, and 19 inches deep, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines.

Garage Maneuvering Room

If you are going to be using a wheelchair or walker, consider that ADA guidelines specify a minimum clear space of 60 inches in diameter for a wheelchair to make a 180-degree turn and about 36 inches clearance between walls. This means that your two car garage may only accommodate one car and room for a wheelchair.

Another concern in many garages is there are often steps up from the floor of the garage into the house. There are specially designed wheelchair lifts that can help people cross this threshold. Depending on space you can also build a ramp. We can help you plan for using a wheelchair in your garage.

Gardens and Yards

  • Faucets should be lever-operated for easier use.
  • Install faucets or hose connections near each planting bed for convenience.
  • Planting beds should be elevated about 27 inches for easier gardening and should be about 24 inches wide so that their middle is accessible.
  • Consider installing a few container gardens, again making them at least 27 inches high.
  • Firm surface walks should surround each planting bed.
  • If you will need to work for long periods of time, get a good pair of knee pads, and an outdoor seat.

Walks and Patios

Make sure your walks and patios are stable, firm and slip-resistant. They should be at least 36 inches wide and have a raised lip on the edges to accommodate a wheelchair. Handrails at 34 to 38 inches above the surface would also be useful to prevent falls.


Lights Installed from both the ground and above head high will light pathways and walks for the best visibility. As you age, you really cannot have too many lights available. Your CAPS can help you figure out where and what types of lights are best for your plan.

A Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist such as Fazzolari Custom Homes and Renovations understands the needs you have and is trained to help you sort through these decisions and make it easier for you to choose the ones that are right for you. If you are considering options for aging in place in the Portland, OR area then callVancouver, WA Contractors Fazzolari Custom Homes and Renovations at 360-571-7027 or fill out our form for a free consultation.

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