Water, water everywhere….but only if you can access the faucet!

May 22, 2011 at 8:44 am Leave a comment

It sure was a long winter, but out of the “newness” of Spring comes a new blog post to breathe life back into the EmpowerAbility blog!

Every Spring Bill and I plant a vegetable garden.  It seems only natural to write a blog post about accessible gardening this time of year; I have previously written one myself (see “How does your modified garden grow “).  However, I find that most blog posts about accessible gardening (including mine) talk about accessible height planters, the vast array of modified and/or universally designed tools, but leave out one important factor:  access to the water supply.

I guess I have always known that access to and manipulation of the hose bib was a challenge for Bill, but being the independent soul that he is, and the mandate for me to not jump in and help him unless he asks (a gentle reminder that my role at home is spouse and not OT/Accessibility consultant-even though this can be difficult ;)) , conditioned me to not question it.  Not, at least, until this year.  Bill uses a power wheelchair for functional mobility while gardening.  Typically, he can get very close to the hose bibs to turn them on/off, but this process still requires that he bend very far forward to reach the hose bib while attempting to grasp and turn the handle with limited hand motion.

This year, many of our shrubs were overgrown limiting Bill from getting close enough for optimal access, requiring that I help him with this integral part of gardening.  As I bent down to access the hose bib, and felt the soreness in my back and knees from a long day of yard work, I could not help but question, why are they installed so low?  There has got to be an easier way for everyone to access a hose bib!

And there is…..

Hose bibs are typically installed without interference (avoiding joists/studs/masonry).   From a Universal Design perspective, it would make sense to install the hose bib higher to allow for less bending and overall easier access.  If they can be installed in a specialty box underground (that you will find in a cemetery or park) or on a roof top for cleaning roof top units, then why not install them higher for a homeowner?

Some possible modifications…..

If you are one of the many who already have hose bibs installed, there are some retrofit solutions to make them more accessible:

  • Faucet extenders:  a free-standing hose stand (some with and without hose storage) that extends the hose bib for easier access.  There are many on the market with different features and run anywhere from ~$38.00 and up.
  • Easy Grip Handles:  To allow for ease of manipulation of the faucet, there are a few products on the market that are ready to add-on to your existing faucet handle to provide increased ease with turning it on and off.  Cost varies from ~$9.00 and up.
  • Remote-controlled watering:  The most convenient modification, but more costly, is to set up a remote-controlled sprinkler system.  This system can be started via the press of a button and/or setup with a timer to water at specific intervals.  There are many systems on the market than run the spectrum of lower to higher tech, with a multitude of features for user convenience.

Now if we can only figure out how to stop the phantom that keeps eating our strawberries……happy gardening!

Lewis hose bib extender

Gemplers Faucet extender

the foxtail by Life with Ease

Easy Gripper outdoor faucet handle


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Entry filed under: Accessibility, Aging-In-Place design, Arthritis, Assistive Technology, Universal Design. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , .

A bump may as well be a mountain to a wheelchair-user Where the sidewalk ends….

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