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Urban Gardening Ideas - They're Not Just For Growing Vegetables

February 8, 2022 Jill Raver
Filed in: Landscaping Guides

If you aspire to have your own garden but live in the city and don’t have a lot of green space, these urban gardening ideas are for you! Believe it or not, well-designed urban gardens can accommodate a large variety of plants in a limited amount of space. Whether you want to grow an array of flowers, succulents, and herbs, or lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, you will be happy to know that with a little forethought and strategic planning, the possibilities are truly endless.

Urban Gardening 101

The first step to setting up a successful urban garden is to evaluate your space and determine whether you want to build an indoor system, an outdoor system, or a little of both. Here are a few tips and techniques you may want to consider:

  • If you have a front porch or balcony, hanging baskets are a great space-saving option. Flowers are always popular for this kind of setup, but salad greens, tomatoes, and strawberries also thrive in hanging baskets.
  • If you have south-facing windows, consider planting in window boxes. They are a great option for creating a green space that doesn’t take up any actual living space. Windows that face directions other than south aren’t ideal, as they generally don’t get enough sunlight each day.
  • If you have a rooftop, a patio, or a small patch of concrete at your disposal, planting in raised beds can be ideal. They can be as elaborate or as basic as you like. You can even make them mobile with wheels if you want the option to move them.
  • Always purchase a good-quality potting soil mix. The quality of your garden depends on it.
  • Be sure to design your grow space where your plants will get enough sun, but limited wind exposure. A good practice is to arrange larger containers in such a way that they shelter the smaller ones.

Rooftop Gardens

Rooftop gardens are a great way to utilize space that would otherwise go unused. If this is something you’re interested in, we recommend talking to your landlord to see if there are any regulations that you must follow. Moreover, some buildings may have rooftop weight limits that need to be adhered to. If that’s the case, it could affect what containers you choose to use. Keep in mind that rooftop gardens can be exposed to extreme heat, cold, and wind, potentially more so than any other urban planting method. Therefore, it’s beneficial to plant them in easily moveable containers, so that if bad weather arises, you can take them indoors or shelter them.

rooftop gardening

Small Edible Gardens

If you have limited space, but want to grow some of your own food, consider creating a small edible garden with mason jar planters. They are great for growing herbs, lettuce, sprouts, and even green onions. It’s a wonderful way to bring nature indoors and add a fresh taste to your meals! They can be mounted to walls both indoors and outdoors, or set on shelves near windows. Mason jars are plentiful, cheap, and can be placed almost anywhere.

Some additional edible plants you might want to consider incorporating into your urban garden, if your space allows, include strawberries, blueberries, rosemary, lemon and lime trees, and petite rose bushes. The plump juicy red berries of the Heritage Raspberry Bush are the perfect addition to any size garden. They are especially good for those with limited space because they’re adaptable to pots and other confined spaces. The Climax Blueberry Bush provides instant gratification and will produce fruit the very first year. This sun-loving fruit bush is ideal for warmer climates. A Meyer Lemon Tree is surprisingly easy to grow and will produce juicy sweet lemons up to 4 times a year. They’re perfect for homemade lemonade. Another great option is a dwarf Key Lime Tree. They are self-pollinating, pest-resistant, and can be grown indoors when needed.

Balcony & Patio Gardens

Thanks to the space-saving nature of container pots, hanging planters, pallet walls, and trellises, making an urban garden on your balcony or patio is an easy way for a city dweller to grow a garden in a limited outdoor space. A covered balcony or patio garden is an ideal planting location. In most cases, there is ample sunshine and some form of natural protection from the wind and severe weather. Best of all, it’s fun and easy to decorate. Imagine stepping out on your lush, green balcony instead of leaving it bare concrete.

balcony gardening

Container Gardens

Patios, balconies, and rooftops are all perfect places to start a container garden. In fact, you may be surprised how much you can actually grow in just a handful of well-draining containers. You can get started with just a handful of pots, planter boxes, or 5-gallon buckets. Varying container sizes can make your container garden aesthetically pleasing. You will also need good-quality potting soil, an all-purpose fertilizer, and a watering can.

Container gardens don’t have to be complicated. Did you know that you can even save your food scraps to plant vegetables like lettuce, celery, potatoes, and onions? For celery, lettuce, and onions, you simply put the scraps into a bowl of water, place it near a window and wait for it to sprout. Once it sprouts, then plant it in a small container. For potatoes, wait for the chits to begin sprouting, and then simply plant the entire potato in a 5-gallon bucket. This method is brilliant, easy, and sustainable, all at the same time.

Vertical Gardening

If you live in an apartment or have limited green space to work with for your garden, you may want to consider vertical gardening techniques. Vertical planting solutions can be made from recycled plastic bottles, mason jars, wood, fencing, or just about anything you can imagine.

Climbing plants like the White Climbing Hydrangea Vine or Amethyst Falls Wisteria Vine are perfect for vertical gardens.

If you are thinking of going vertical, consider these creative urban gardening ideas:

Shoe Organizer Garden

If you’ve never seen a hanging shoe organizer repurposed as a vertical garden, be prepared to be amazed! With this method, you can create an incredibly efficient and budget-friendly garden in even the smallest city apartment. It’s sustainable, takes up little to no space and it looks beautiful! If you are going to go this route, we suggest using one that isn’t made of plastic. Fabric organizers are best, as they will naturally allow your plants to drain and breathe.

Create a Pallet Wall

To create a functional yet beautiful urban garden in a small space, consider making a DIY pallet planter. They can be used both inside and outside, mounted to a wall, or simply moved around as needed. Pallets are affordable, sustainable, and best of all, they can be painted to match your decor. Climbing plants will thrive on a pallet wall, and so will succulents, flowers of all kinds, and foods like lettuce and herbs. With a little creativity, a pallet wall can transform your space into an outdoor oasis.

Create a Gutter Garden

Another vertical urban gardening idea is to turn gutters into planters. This creative planting idea has gained a lot of traction in recent years. It’s easy to create, looks great, and allows you to grow a lot of plants in a very small space. You can organize gutters on a wall in whatever design you’d like, and if you put them in a zigzag pattern, you get the added benefit of the water draining from the higher rows to the rows underneath.

Best Use of Indoor & Outdoor Space

There is no right or wrong way to start an urban garden. The whole idea is to get creative and find the best use of your space. For most situations, we suggest going vertical whenever possible and making use of hanging space wherever you have it. Placing pots on ledges and shelves is also a great use of space. You can get as creative as you want to. The beauty of starting an urban garden is that you can start small and expand as you go. You can also tailor it to your unique style and experiment all you want without the long-term commitment that in-ground, large-scale gardening demands.

If you’re starting an urban gardening or landscaping project, it’s important that you purchase plants from a reputable nursery like PlantingTree. For a full selection of our indoor and outdoor patio plants, dwarf fruit trees, and berry bushes, be sure to check out our online plant nursery.

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