Tucked away in the woods of Graham is a sprawling garden from the pages of a storybook. Swaths of flowers border a lawn that flows in different directions. Each garden bed is flush with hundreds of plants: fluffy peonies here, yellow clusters of ranunculus there, colonies of hosta winding like a forest stream. The colors and forms are endless.

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Daniel Burnstein of Brooklyn, New York had a unique dilemma: his client wanted to be able to use the backyard with a wheelchair. Concrete work and pavers can be expensive, and Daniel liked the rustic charm of gravel.

His question: Can gravel surfaces be wheelchair accessible? The answer is yes—if they meet certain standards.

Washington Rock, with the help of landscape architect Clayton Beaudoin, researched the topic and came up with guidelines for making gravel surfaces wheelchair accessible.

Our goal is to make these guidelines as easy as possible to follow, so we create a simple guide below. Then we included additional resources, such as a Glossary of Terms and Research Notes.

Check out the companion piece to this article, “Designing for Diana: How We Made Gravel Wheelchair-Accessible in Brooklyn,” to read about how we used our guidelines to help Daniel create a gravel-accessible backyard. The project is summarized in the video below.

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