Simple Urban Gardening Ideas

Urban gardening ideas

Not everybody can live in an area with space for a proper garden. People who live in cities might have very limited access to outdoor space, but still want a garden of their own. That’s where some simple urban gardening ideas come in.

Balcony Garden Flowers in a Balcony BoxWhen I was growing up, my family and I lived in a flat over a greengrocer’s shop that we owned. The nearest thing we had to a garden was some flowers in hanging baskets on the front balcony of the flat. It wasn’t much, but it brightened the place up a bit.

I also seem to recall that in the spring my dad would put some grow bags out on the balcony for growing tomato plants in. It was a fairly quick and easy way to turn a pretty ugly area of concrete and wood with flaking white paint into an area with a bit more vegetation and colour.

Allotments and Communal Gardening Areas

If your city has any allotments or communal gardening areas to rent, you may be able to get your hands on a bit more space to play with.

Allotments seemed to be a common things when I was growing up, possibly because many people in urban areas still lived in old terraced streets with not much garden of their own. With the newer housing estates, however, most houses seem to have a patch of green garden of some description, so the need for allotments fell a bit.

More recently though, the increase in former industrial units being converted into flats coupled with a desire for grow-your-own vegetables has once again created a demand for inner-city allotments or communal gardening areas.

Balcony and Roof Terrace Gardens

Don’t worry if you live in a flat and only have access to a roof terrace or even just a balcony though, as there are still many things that can be done to bring a bit of greenery and colour to your little part of the city.

Urban Garden Hanging BasketIf you just want flowers and a bit of colour, then pot plants or hanging baskets can be fitted into fairly small spaces. You might even like to try growing vertically, with climbing plants that will cover a trellis on a wall, giving an organic look to a man-made structure.

Even if you want to try growing your own food, there are things that you can do. A grow bag on a balcony is an ideal way of growing your own tomatoes, or, if you have the space, a trough planter can be used for growing some other vegetables or herbs.

Of course, a lot of what you can grow on a balcony or roof terrace depends on which direction it faces. If the area doesn’t get much sun, you may need to come up with some different design ideas, and go for plants that are happier with partial or full shade.

The beauty of using small trough planters is that they can potentially be moved to different locations if they’re small enough and light enough, so you can adapt to sunlight conditions throughout the seasons. If you’re ingenious and good with tools, you could even possibly attach wheels to the bottom of your raised beds so that they can be moved throughout the day to constantly take advantage of the sun or the shade as desired.

Important Urban Gardening Considerations

Whatever types of plants you choose to grow on a roof terrace or balcony, just remember that you need to be able to get to them all to water them or maintain them. If the area becomes too cluttered, it will be a pain to work in, and you won’t enjoy it. It may even become dangerous if you’re having to clamber over things, just to move about.

Urban Gardening Ideas - Millwall Isle of Dogs London Docklands
An urban garden on London’s Isle of Dogs transforms this new docklands development, but keep that ivy under control. Photo: Google Streetview

In an urban garden, you also have to be somewhat considerate of your neighbours. Create a garden that you can keep under control, and that won’t overrun the adjoining properties or drop leaves, branches, or other waste onto balconies below yours. Many people use their balconies for drying their laundry, so they won’t appreciate lots of garden waste dropping on them.

One final thing you need to check before getting started with your urban garden is whether there are any local or building-specific regulations related to what you can and can’t do with your outdoor space. This is especially important if you plan to introduce free-climbing plants such as ivy, which can potentially take over more than just your area.

As you can see then, a lot of urban gardening is to do with imagination. Think of solutions that will work within the limitations that you have, but still give you a green and pleasant garden.

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