You don’t need a big backyard to hone your green thumb. Most of us live in big cities, with tiny homes huddled up in a crowded neighborhood. So using these urban gardening techniques will mean that you can live in the concrete jungle and treat your eyes with a little bit of greenery.
Urban gardeners are the real innovators. They find ways to make the most out of the little space they have and grow beautiful vegetable gardens, flowers, and anything else they please. Keep reading, and you’ll find some efficient ways to use the limited soil space to grow enough to suffice for a small family all year round.
Take A Look Around You
Each of us have a unique gardening environment. Survey your space from a gardener’s perspective and decide what growth strategies will work best in your environment. Where do you get the most sunlight? Do you have a small porch you can make use of? Do you have any south-facing windows? South-facing balconies are even better as you’ll get a couple of more inches to grow your favorite vegetables.
Pick The Right Varieties To Plant
Urban living leaves little or no free time on our hands. Shuffling between study, work, family, and friends, you may, sometimes, forget to water or feed the plants. Know your limitations and pick varieties that are forgiving in the level of care they receive. Choose plants that can thrive with little maintenance and are well adapted to the urban environment.
Local species bought from a local garden center are the best ones to go for since they’ve already evolved to grow in your area’s climate. They’re accustomed to succeeding in your locality’s soil conditions and naturally resistant to common pests and diseases. Once established, they’ll ask for little watering and feeding.
If you don’t have enough sunlight coming in, there are plenty of other options you can go for. All you’ll have to do is choose shade-tolerant varieties, and you’re good to go. Leafy greens, like lettuce, spinach, and kale, and certain herbs, like parsley, mint, and chives, don’t usually mind growing in a little shade.
Here’s a list of some low-maintenance plants that make a perfect addition to a small urban garden:
- Salad greens
- Rainbow chard
- “Tumbling Tom” tomatoes
Pick Your Gardening Technique
Urban gardening is all about efficient space management. Once you’ve taken a look around your space and considered the growing conditions and the amount of sunlight it’s receiving, you can choose a suitable urban gardening technique to go with it. You have an entire world of possibilities open to you. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. A Small Porch Garden
Even if you have a tiny porch sitting idle in front of your house, treasure it. Once you get planning and draw out an ingenious blueprint, you’ll be amazed by the amount and variety you can grow in it.
Spend a day visiting your porch at intervals and taking notes. Jot down where it’s the sunniest, where it’s partially shaded, and which portions get no direct sunlight at all. Choose the plants well-suited to the light conditions you have and sketch out a gardening plan accordingly. Build raised beds to maximize productivity in little space by using excellent quality soil. Push in some container plants as well, wherever you find a small extra space!
When you are crowding the plants in limited space, plant companions together because some plants are beneficial for one another and thrive if grown close. In contrast, others might not be suited for being planted together. For example, basil, parsley, and garlic are excellent options to grow with tomatoes. Brassicas, like broccoli and cabbage, must be kept apart from tomatoes.
2. Consider Raised Beds
Living in the city, we don’t always have the best soil. Many urban gardeners complain about too much rock, clay, or sand in their yards. Unsuitable soil conditions, weeds, pests, and irrigation problems can be addressed by planting in raised beds. This urban gardening technique is especially suited to the elderly since the raised height prevents them from bending too much while watering and tending to the garden.
Even if you have a small yard, incorporating a compact 2’x4′ (about 61 cm to 1,21 m) or 4’x8′ (about 1,21 m to 2,44 m) raised bed is straightforward. It instantly lifts your landscape, giving neighbors a little something to talk about. You can either make one at home or buy a pre-made kit. While building one at home, choose untreated wood that’s strong enough to last for a long time.
Your bed’s height should be at least 6 inches (about 15 cm) to keep out the unwanted weeds and pests. Raise it just a bit higher if you have bunnies and squirrels in your yard. Fill the beds with fertile, organic soil and grow companion plants together.
3. Container Gardening
No yard to work in? Not a problem. That’s precisely why we have containers! You’ll find containers in different sizes to place on a porch, near a window, or on a balcony. If you’re strapped for space, choose compact containers and select plants that don’t develop an extensive root system and grow well in a small area. Herbs and salad greens work well in small pots.
It’s easy to squeeze in more greenery with container gardens wherever you find a little space. Insects, weeds, and diseases are rarely an issue when growing in containers, and you can quickly move the plants around according to their light requirements.
Don’t forget about grow bags! Grow bags are the trendiest innovations to container gardening. They’re visually appealing, compact, lightweight, and very portable. Many urban gardeners like to grow potatoes in grow bags since their flexible and porous material creates the perfect environment for the developing tubers.
4. Balcony Gardening
Balcony gardens look cute and are an excellent way to incorporate a green landscape into an apartment. Cover the perimeter with containers and baskets; you can even fasten a couple of planters to the railings to add a couple of more inches to your balcony garden.
Also, incorporate a green wall into your balcony, especially if you get plenty of sun in the area. Just set up some planters next to the wall with stakes or trellises. Climbing plant varieties fill up your wall with lush green, together with a few baskets hanging from the sides.
Read our article, 10 Best Plants For Your Hanging Baskets, to learn which plants work well in hanging baskets!
Make sure you survey the space before choosing the varieties to plant. You have more options if you have a sunny balcony, preferably a south-facing one. North-facing or east-facing balconies can also be made use of by incorporating shade-tolerant varieties. Amethyst, hydrangea, begonia, copper plant, and ferns will grow well in your shady balcony.
5. A Green Rooftop
Rooftop gardening is one of the most overlooked ones from urban gardening techniques, although it might be the most potential growing spot in your home with all the uninterrupted sunlight, air, and rain reaching your plants. Create a landscape packed with pots, planters, hanging baskets, trellises, and even raised beds; you can set up a chair and table in the middle for a relaxing workspace.
When creating a rooftop garden, you need to consider the structural integrity of your building. All that soil and water are going to make your garden heavy! Decide how many pots and planters it can easily hold, and if, at all, it can bear the weight of raised beds.
6. Indoor Gardening
If you don’t have a lot of outdoor space or have used up all that’s available, start working on indoor gardening. Many homeowners think that indoor space is solely for fancy houseplants – that’s not the case at all! There are plenty of edibles that grow well indoors.
Start with salad greens, herbs, and microgreens in pots on a windowsill. They’re the easiest and fastest to grow, ask for very little attention, and produce fresh edibles that you can cut out and use in the kitchen as needed.
7. A Vertical Garden
There can never be too much green! Use every inch of space you have and turn it into a beautiful garden – you will never get tired of plants! Once you’re all out of horizontal space, take your garden vertical.
The most manageable vertical gardens use hanging pocket planters, which you can attach to your indoor or outdoor walls. Picture frame gardens are also famous for their unique style. They involve a frame with a growing medium enclosed behind a mesh. Succulent varieties grow well in such gardens.
A shortage of space shouldn’t keep you from growing your favorite vegetables and flowers. Don’t continue living in a concrete-packed environment with no greenery to heal an eyesore. Once you start thinking, you’ll develop unique ways to bring more plants into your life. They can lift your mood, improve your physical and mental health, and bring fresh, healthy, organic edibles to your table! That’s why you should definitely take a closer look at these urban gardening techniques.