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Urban Gardening: Getting Started

For lovers of plants and flowers, an apartment or townhouse in the middle of the city can seem like a dull wasteland: no backyard, no grass to mow or water, and very few trees to admire. Many urbanites want to add a bit of green to their living spaces, but it can be hard to figure out where to start when there is a limited amount of space and time. That’s why we’ve done some of the work for you by compiling a blog of simple tips and starting points to help you create a greener, brighter urban dwelling.

Urban gardens come in many forms: balcony gardens, rooftop gardens, windowsill gardens, and more. Despite cramped circumstances and large crowds, city-dwellers have found every way imaginable to keep growing the produce and flowers that they love. All an urban garden really requires is a little bit of innovation, planning, and creativity; especially when it comes to utilizing space: a rare commodity in the city.

Urban gardens have learned to maximize the space they have by getting creative with planters. For instance, mason jars can be used as compact planters for individual plants. They can be set side-by-side on a windowsill or mounted on sunny walls to free up even more space. Egg cartons, small trashcans, yogurt containers, colanders, and over-the-door shoe racks have also been used as space-saving indoor planters! For city-dwellers with a bit of outside space, consider using shipping pallets as planters to construct a vertical garden. These pallets look especially beautiful when covered in vine plants. Hanging planters are also useful, especially on small balconies. Large bundles of flowers and herbs can fit into one planter, adding a lot of color in a little space. Cinderblocks make for rustic, sturdy planters that may be used to line a walkway or fill a sunny corner with a bit of greenery. Even an old kiddie pool with drainage holes poked into the side can function as a great plant bed in a small yard or on a rooftop.

pallet garden

shoe rack garden

There are a number of plants that are well-suited to growing in cramped spaces. Consider filling your urban garden with plants like tomato (they grow upward rather than outward), salad greens, mint, garlic, basil, strawberries, cilantro, and rosemary. Most of these plants need ample sunlight, so be sure to choose a space that gets plenty of light. However, if your urban space is mostly shaded, there are plenty of plants that can do perfectly well in the shade: Foxglove, primrose, violets, begonias, and pansies are just a few varieties.

An indoor tomato plant on a climber.

We encourage you to experiment with a number of different methods and see what works best. Consider your space, the amount of sunlight you get, the type of plants you want to grow, and do your research! A successful urban garden is a planned urban garden. Careful planning and a bit of creativity can go a long way in making up for a lack of traditional garden space!

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