Did you know that over the past two years U.S. cities have experienced growth rates higher than the surrounding suburbs? The growth rate in the suburbs has slipped to the lowest levels in over a decade and many people are coming to the city in search of work as well as the cultural amenities that are often found in large urban areas. Just because you may live in the city doesn’t mean you can’t garden. Impossible you say…well think again! You too can create an oasis in the midst of a bustling city. It just takes a little bit of creativity and some knowledge passed on to you by Blooming Secrets!
The first rule of gardening in the city is to understand what you can and can’t do in the apartment, co-op or condominium unit that you live in. Many municipalities have laws against putting containers on things such as fire escapes and rooftops, particularly in older buildings, that may not have been built to take the weight of a large rooftop garden. Once you’ve finished this research you need to think small. Most cities don’t offer a lot of space for gardens but even the smallest of spaces can be put to use. If you have a balcony, access to a rooftop or even a small space on the side of your building than you can have a garden and if you don’t than find out about community gardening in your area and perhaps you can find some space there.
Once you’ve got your space set this is where the creative part comes in. If you are on a balcony or rooftop you can garden in containers or perhaps there is a small curbside space in front of your building that the landlord or the city will allow you to cultivate. Beyond containers you can also grow plants vertically. A trellis, arbor or even a wall can be used to train plants such as ivy or honeysuckle and if you have enough sunlight you can even grow grapes and melons. If you are able to secure a hook in a wall or overhang than you can try a hanging basket filled with flowers such as petunias or geraniums. If you’re really ambitious maybe you can talk your landlord into the benefit of a “green roof” or at least maybe he’ll let you set up some raised flower beds and containers there. Remember, think creatively!
Now that you’ve figured out what options you have the practical side of gardening comes to the forefront. Be mindful of how much sun or shade your space will get as this will determine what types of plants you can grow there. If you live in an urban area with tall buildings you may find that you have much more shade than sun. You need to also be thinking about getting the soil to your spot and how much of it you will need. Soil bags can be very heavy and if your building doesn’t have an elevator you’ll want to take that into account. You also want to keep in mind how you will water the plants. There are self-watering containers that you might want to consider; particularly if you don’t have regular access to a hose. Finally, high winds can be a concern in cities which means you need to secure your pots so they don’t become projectiles.
You can get more information about gardening in the city from websites such as the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (www.bbg.org) or do a search on city gardening and take advantage of the numerous blogs that are popping up about the topic. Remember, just because you live in the city doesn’t mean you can’t create a little place to get away from it all! If you have examples of what you have done, please share it with us on our Facebook page.