With many city dwellers looking for solutions to climate change, urban gardening is becoming the new eco-friendly way to add a touch of nature to city spaces.
You do not have to live in the countryside to enjoy the pleasures of gardening, as urban trends are now making it exceptionally easy to get growing anywhere, providing some fantastic environmental, mental and financial benefits for you and your home, too.
Nicky Roeber, Online Horticultural Expert from Wyevale Garden Centres, has provided an extensive guide on how you can effortlessly introduce urban gardening to your city home.
Rooftop gardens are perfect for those in tall buildings who wish to create a community space. These can be as simple as a few flower planters on a roof terrace to something more striking across the whole area. Here are a few things to consider before planning your garden:
Will your rooftop garden be in the sun or the shade? Plants such as lavender, shasta daisy, verbena, aster, lamb's ear, rose of Sharon, petunias, sunflowers, marigolds and zinnia flowers are better suited to gardens in direct sunlight. Hostas, elephant's ears, Japanese laurel, lily of the valley, rhododendron, St John's wort, cyclamen, astilbe, skimmia and large merrybells are more suited to shady conditions.
If your garden is going to be partly in the sun and partly in the shade, plants such as crown vetch, weigela, crimson stonecrop, Mexican orange blossom, periwinkle, cotoneaster, hydrangea, hebe, white Christmas rose, and New Zealand flax are all perfect for these kinds of conditions.
Wind can also affect your garden. Shrubs such as blackthorn, hedgehog rose or Griselinia littoralis are better suited to windy areas. It is also advisable to consider wind breaks. You can either use a shop-bought windbreak or opt for a natural alternative, using plants to block the wind. Hawthorn, Italian alder, sea buckthorn and small-leafed lime are all ideal for this.
Remember to consider the weight the garden will be and how much the roof can hold. Heavier items should be placed closer to load-bearing walls which can hold much more weight than unsupported areas. Always check whether planning permission is required before getting started your rooftop garden.
Use pots and decorations to create different spaces. Think of creating a designated seating area by forming a break in the garden. Herbs are brilliant for constructing a dining area due to their mosquito-repelling qualities.
Think about how you will take care of your plants. Remember that the more you plant, the more you will have to water. An outdoor hose makes it easier to water a large amount. If you do not have an outdoor hose, think about the number of plants you will be willing to water with a watering can.
You can easily curate a garden on your balcony with just a few simple pots and hanging baskets. However, there are a few factors you may want to consider first:
Consider the conditions of your balcony. Does it spend most of the day in the sun or the shade? If your balcony is sunny, it is best to consider plants that can handle dry conditions such as lavender, basil, sage and rosemary. If your balcony is usually in the shade, consider more leafy jungle plants such as bamboo, fatsia and hostas.
Do not plant pots in places where watering could lead to a risk of falling. Also consider the weight of your garden to avoid putting too much pressure on the building structure.
Drainage is a big issue when it comes to balcony gardens. You do not want any water running off onto the balconies below you, so try not to overwater your plants and place trays underneath to catch any excess.
Green walls are a great way to add a bit of colour to your living space if you have limited ground area to work with. You can contact a specialist company who can install a green wall for you, but they are easy enough to create yourself at home.
First choose which wall you wish to use; it should have a solid surface as you will be attaching your planters to it.
Carefully measure your wall and select your living wall system such as recycled plastic pockets, planters or troughs.
Choose your plants. We suggest leatherleaf sedge, blue fescue, coleus, Japanese painted fern and American aloe, but you would be surprised by what can grow in vertical conditions. We also suggest using younger plants, as older plants will find it harder to adapt.
Decide on your system. Felt pocket systems are usually easier to plant after you have installed them, but more inflexible containers can be planted first before being mounted. If in doubt, follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation.
Mix some compost with water retaining granules to help prevent the plants drying out too quickly, then add your plants and fill around the gaps with more compost.
Once everything is installed and planted, water thoroughly and then water when compost feels dry to touch. Once they are fully settled, feed your plants with an all-purpose feed every two or three weeks.
Indoor gardens are simple and easy to create. Some things to consider are:
Check that any plants you choose are houseplants as these are better suited to the indoors. If you would prefer low maintenance options, consider Chinese evergreen, pothos, peace lily, cacti, aloe vera or snake plants. Orchids make great indoor plants but are a lot more responsibility.
Position your plants according to their needs. Those that need a lot of sunlight are better placed on or near windowsills. Ferns love moisture and make great additions to bathrooms.
Keep your indoor plants in pots with holes to allow drainage after watering. To prevent leakage onto your furniture or flooring, "double pot" by placing them into an extra pot without holes or get a plant saucer. Alternatively, replant in a bigger pot with a drainage layer of gravel — houseplants tend to do better when they have more room to grow.
There are several simple ways to inject urban gardening trends into your city home. By creating a rooftop or balcony garden, building a green wall or by adding a few plants to your home, you can effortlessly reap the amazing benefits of gardening no matter where you live.
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