How to Create an Urban Garden

How to Create an Urban Garden


When you think of a blooming garden, your mind may conjure images of vast beds and fields of vegetation set in wide-open acres. However, you can grow gorgeous flowers and bountiful vegetables in more compact areas too. If you have a small yard, a rooftop, or simply a balcony in a metropolitan area, use these tips to start your very own urban garden.

Survey your space

Before you start digging, take time to get a feel for the space you’re working with. How much room do you really have? You don’t want to get too ambitious and buy plants, containers, and tools you won’t have room for. You’ll also want to choose a spot that provides sufficient sunlight for your garden—a site that receives at least four hours of sun a day is good—but you may need more or less depending on the types of plants you choose. If this is your first garden, you should consider starting small. Once you get a feel for what works, you can begin adding more plants.

Choose the right plants

Your garden’s success may come down to choosing the best plants for your garden. Some plants need space, sunlight, or soil that your garden may not be able to provide. One way to find success is to research what grows naturally in your area—native species will have an easier time thriving in your climate and might cost less to maintain. Also, be aware of how much space your plants need to grow. Overcrowding can cause some plants to suffer. If this is your first time cultivating a garden, there are several low-maintenance options to consider planting, including:

  • Coneflowers
  • Daylilies
  • Geraniums
  • Hen and chickens
  • Impatiens
  • Petunias
  • Zinnias

Make use of your space

The most significant obstacle to starting an urban garden is often finding the room to grow your plants. While it can be challenging, you can overcome this problem with a little creative thinking.

Use containers

Container gardens can be one of the easier and less intrusive ways of setting up your urban garden, and this method allows you the convenience of moving your garden if need be. You’ll find containers in all shapes and sizes. However, you’ll want to use containers that are appropriate for the size of your plants. Containers that are too large may not fit your limited area, but containers that are too small can hamper plant growth. Keep in mind you might also need to move plants to larger planters to promote healthy roots. If you’re using containers, drill holes in the bottom for improved drainage. Popular container materials include:

  • Terra-cotta

    These containers look sharp and come in various styles and prices. However, they can be heavy and are more fragile than other options.
  • Wood

    This natural material can be a cost-effective option, and you can even create your own DIY styles. But wood can decay and fade over time if not cared for properly, and it will require regular resealing.
  • Plastic

    Known for being inexpensive, resilient, and lightweight, plastic containers can be durable but might become brittle after prolonged sun exposure.
  • Fiberglass

    Fiberglass is another lightweight choice that can add an elegant look to your garden. This material is sturdy but also more costly and may show wear over time.

Go vertical

You can overcome a lack of space by moving your garden up instead of out. By adding vertical layers to your garden, you can make better use of every inch you have to grow, possibly doubling the size of your garden. Incorporating shelves into a container garden will help you create space for additional plants. Options such as vertical wall planters, hanging baskets, and stack planters can be helpful. You can also add sections of rain gutters to fences or railings for a convenient DIY planter option.

Add raised beds

This is a fantastic option if you have a small plot of land to work with. You can build a DIY version of raised beds or install preconstructed beds, just make sure they’re at least six inches tall, and, if you’re focused on organic gardening, made of untreated wood.

Purchase the right tools

If you’re trying to grow plants in a limited space, you probably won’t have access to a shed to store your arsenal of gardening tools. However, you shouldn’t need much to take care of your urban garden. Limit yourself to the essentials, such as:

  • A hand trowel
  • A hand spade
  • Gloves
  • Pruners
  • A watering can

Don’t let your lack of space discourage you from using your green thumb. You can have your own tranquil space in the city by following this guide.

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