Small Urban Garden Ideas

Written by susan sedgwick
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Small Urban Garden Ideas
Urban gardens provide a welcome oasis from busy city life. (urban 2 image by Vitezslav Halamka from

Urban gardeners transform the smallest areas into welcoming spaces that offer havens from hectic city life. Inspiring, well-designed urban gardens feature careful plant selection, attention to detail, creative use of space and minimal decoration. Whether you have a small plot of land, a balcony or only a window box, all you need is a bit of soil and sunlight to keep your green fingers busy in the big city.

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Balconies and Patios

If you're fortunate enough to have a balcony or patio, a container garden is a simple, lovely way to create an urban sanctuary. Containers work for almost any type of plant you want to grow, including bulbs, flowering perennials, shrubs, vegetables and trees. Small-scale showy trees, including Japanese maple or citrus trees, thrive in large pots and can be taken indoors when the weather changes. Use a minimal approach for a small garden and stick with a single focal point--a potted tree or wall-mounted water-feature. If you have room, incorporate a small bistro table for al fresco dining or a lounge chair to relax and read the paper on a weekend morning.

Living Walls

Living walls are a new trend among urban gardeners, especially those who lack the space or optimal conditions for a container garden. Living walls take advantage of vertical spaces and effectively turn part of a wall into a planter. One style is a box frame designed to accommodate small plants, often succulents. The frame has a wire grid or mesh over the soil, to support the plant and allow it to grow vertically on the wall. Alternatively, use wall pockets, specially designed synthetic planting bags, to create a dramatic vertical garden on a balcony or patio wall. To really take advantage of vertical space, plant climbing vines for maximum impact in a tiny amount of space.

Window Boxes and Hanging Baskets

If you live in Manhattan, San Francisco and major metropolitan areas, your only outdoor space may be your windowsill. Fortunately, window boxes and hanging baskets give you a small planting area. Use a window box as a seasonal showcase, changing out spring bulbs with prolific summer bloomers, followed by autumn pansies or asters. If you prefer to plant vegetables, a window box can support fresh culinary herbs and even some tomato cultivars, such as "Window Box Roma" which maintains a small size. The "Tumbler" cultivar allows city dwellers to grow tomatoes in hanging container gardens. If you prefer low maintenance plants, use cacti or succulents, which have a modern sensibility and suit contemporary decor.

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