Arwen Bird, a para from Beaverton, Oregon, has an interesting way of managing all her weeding and planting needs. She lies down on an elevated platform on wheels to push and pull herself all over her yard, and it works great for any tasks that are low to the ground. “I’ve actually been able to get to places in my yard that I was unable to get to in my wheelchair,” she says.
The idea came about when Bird was dealing with an extended recovery from a pressure sore on her ischial tuberosity a few years ago. She started to dream up ways to garden without sitting and eventually decided that being able to move around while lying on her stomach would be ideal. Instead of fabricating something from scratch, she saw a modified yard cart as the perfect solution. Yard carts are basically heavy-duty wagons with large casters that are available at most garden and home improvement stores. “It’s already a platform with wheels, and I knew I needed to start there,” she says. She looked online and found a Gorilla Cart for $119 (available at Lowe’s and other retailers).
The Gorilla Cart was perfect because she could easily remove the sides, leaving a flat platform to lie on. Steering isn’t an issue because the front wheels already swivel, so Bird can just pull and push herself in whatever direction she needs to go. To pad the platform, she used a simple outdoor seat cushion and used the straps that it already had to tie the pad down to the cart.
So was it effective? “Yes, absolutely,” Bird says. “It was as effective as I was hoping, immediately. I was able to go tend to the yard, and after being so confined for nine months [of recovery from the pressure sore], having the cart really restored a sense of agency for me.”
The cart worked so well that Bird has continued using it ever since. The only modification she’s had to make to her original design was to wire some closed cell foam to the sides of the cart under the top cushion to make a cradle for her legs. This way, she can move all over the yard without her legs falling in the dirt.
Image credit: Photo by Author