Are you looking for a contractor?

Submit our quick form and get quotes now!

Table of Contents

Urban Garden: Growing a Green City-Based Oasis

Urban Garden: Growing a Green City-Based Oasis

Exterior renovationsUrban Garden: Growing a Green City-Based Oasis

An urban garden serves as a way to benefit from healthy greens right in the city. Experience growing greens in your tiny backyard and take pride in this new source of inspiration. It’s a genuine, lush asset to add to your landscaping. However, it’s not as easy peasy lemon squeezy as you might think. Between crop insect pests and urban pollution, here’s the must-have information to keep in mind before throwing yourself, hands deep, into this dirt-filled adventure.

The Basis of an Urban Garden

Why grow a vegetable garden in the city?

To benefit from the best of both worlds: 

  • Countryside garden

  • City resources  

Urban agriculture guarantees organic vegetables, or at the very least, greens on which you know exactly what was sprayed. Furthermore, growing an urban garden has a few environmental benefits, amongst which are the following: 

  • Climate regulation

  • Carbon capture

  • Water regulation

  • Environmental education

  • Food security

  • Add more

And, the most important of them all is yet to come. Plants largely contribute to temperature control in urban environments prone to what's commonly known as “urban heat islands.” Whether it’s an urban garden or potted greens, each and every initiative matters. 

When Potting Soil Is Polluted

This is about contaminated or polluted potting soil, which is completely different than polluted air. However, in both cases, note that the chosen urban agriculture model directly impacts your risks of being exposed to certain pollutants.

While indoor urban agriculture strongly limits the risks of exposing plants to pollution, it’s still not always an appealing option for gardeners. 

When deciding on growing an urban garden, you have to pay special attention to where you decide to plant your crops. Should you choose soil-grown instead of container-grown, inquire with your neighbourhood and city hall to know how the land parcel was used for decades prior. For example, the soil might be contaminated with lead.

The First Steps to Urban Gardening

Balconies, Roofs, Decks, or Backyard: Find the Ideal Spot

We just provided you with an overview of the importance of where your garden is grown and the type of crops used based on your situation. Now, the chosen location will most often be the one you already own.

If you already own a plot of land in the city centre, it’s likely there that you’ll seek to grow your fruits and veggies. Likewise, if you only have a balcony or access to a rooftop. 

However, no matter the available spot, 6 hours of sunshine a day is the least you need to successfully grow anything. Make sure of it before investing.

Now then, what do you need to start your urban crop-growing adventure? 

Basic Equipment to Jumpstart Your Garden

  • Potting soil

  • Containers, pots, or planters 

  • Plant saucers

  • Plants or seeds

  • Blade

  • Hand trowel

  • Garden hose

How to Make an Urban Garden: Planning and Executing

Crop Selection

Whether your urban garden is grown in your apartment, on your deck, or on a small plot of land as a part of your local community garden, you risk needing to adapt your crops based on the surrounding pollution. Your choice of fruits and vegetables may be dependent on the quality of the soil, provided that you don’t replace the existing soil with organic potting soil. Should you proceed as such, make sure the potential pollution source is no longer present.

If you decide to opt for potted crops, the soil used will be of high quality since you can choose to use organic soil purchased from your local nursery.  

Design and Layout

The key to a successful urban garden lies in its layout. What a shame it would be if wrongfully positioned plants would deprive you of delighting in your harvest. 

Here are a few tips and tricks for designing the ideal garden.

Optimized Small Urban Garden Design

The secret to cultivating crops in small spaces lies in a gardening technique called intercropping. It consists of planting a new, slow-growing crop in the same row as a fast-growing vegetable. For example, in spring, you can seed summer romaine lettuce between rows of artichokes.

However, intercropping over a great distance can impede the whole of your garden crops. As such, you must find an even middle between the space available and the amount of space covered in crops. The goal is to have a global production of two different vegetables slightly higher than that expected should you have only planted one vegetable during the season. 

Urban Permaculture Pointers

You can easily find online a guide detailing all the pointers to implement when engaging in urban permaculture practices. So, for good measure, here are a few: 

  • Make your own seeds (avoid using F1 seeds)

  • Embrace vertical farming practices (pole beans, peas, herbs, etc.)

  • Benefit from composting (fruit and vegetable peels, etc.)

  • Focus on high-yielding vegetables over small areas 

Radish, carrots, spinach, lettuce, or pole beans are perfect to mass produce over a small patch of soil. Whether you own a ground-growing or a potted garden, prioritize such crops. 

Maximize Production with Crop Rotation

You’re not going to invest in new potting soil bags every year. Once installed, your urban garden will remain in its spot, summer through winter. To allow the soil to regenerate, you should practice crop rotations.

Not all plants consume the same substances, nor will they use the soil evenly. As such, to make it through, plan a rotation schedule between the following crops: 

  • 1st pot: root vegetables (beets, radish, carrots) 

  • 2nd pot: fruits and bulbs (tomatoes, winter squash, garlic, shallots)

  • 3rd pot: leafy vegetables (lettuce, spinach, cabbage) 

  • 4th pot: Legumes (mustard, beans, peas) 

Rotate your crops every year. That way, you’re giving the soil a break, optimizing productivity. 

Potted Plants vs. In-Ground Garden: Handy Tips

Potted Crops and Raised Bed Garden

You can grow anything in a pot. Your only obstacle is the size of your containers. Some vegetables grow fast. To accommodate your plants, you’ll need to get large pots or prepare yourself to transplant crops, one after the other.

  • Tip 1: Base the size of your pot with that of the vegetable

  • Tip 2: Choose a pot based on the crop’s growing speed

  • Tip 3: Choose a pot based on the depth of the roots

  • Tip 4: Fertilize as need be

Manage Water and Nutrients for Healthy Plants

In urban areas, your choice is limited to tap water or rainwater. However, between those two options, tap water is definitely the best.

As a matter of fact, rainwater has two drawbacks:

  • Contains pollutants from rooftops 

  • Must be stored 

And, note that installing a rainwater cistern might not be the best idea when living in the city. Keep it simple and use tap water to water your urban garden.

Prevent and Treat Diseases and Parasites

The first rule of order is as follows: Avoid needlessly harming your plants.

To prevent diseases from developing, stop ripping off your plants’ stem suckers.

Indeed, suckers draw on a part of the plant’s energy, leading to the growth of smaller fruits. However, when you prune the suckers, you’re hurting the stem. From this injury, diseases and fungi attack the plant.

The second rule to follow is as such: Avoid watering the plant's leaves.

When watering the leaves, the latter stores moisture for a long time, which promotes fungi growth already found on the plant: mildew and odium. Ineffective watering can negatively affect your harvest.

To protect your rooftop crops or balcony-grown plants from insects, make sure to have mulch or insect-proof netting in place.

Urban Gardening and Ecology: Challenges and Solutions

Manage City-Specific Climate

Here’s an in-depth look at the different climates you may experience in your city: 

  • Higher temperatures (evening through nightfall)

  • Thermal breeze 

  • Urban pollution 

All these factors can directly impact urban agriculture, but ultimately rest on the number of factors that can alter the microclimate specific to your neighbourhood or even your street: 

  • Coastal vs mountain-valley

  • Clear sky or overcast 

  • Height of buildings

  • Modern or old façades

  • Wide or narrow street

  • And more

To effectively manage the unmanageable—climate—get yourself a thermometer, moisture sensor, rain gauge, or anemometer. By fitting your urban garden with such equipment, you’ll be able to meet climate requirements specific to your area of residence.  

Adopting Eco-Friendly Gardening Methods

Crop rotation, intercropping, composting, and not pruning suckers are all techniques you can use to tend to your garden in an eco-friendly way.

Furthermore, on such small surfaces, you can handpick weeds or aphids from your plants. Eco-friendly gardening is especially tailored to urban gardening.

If you are, or plan on, growing crops in-ground, take advantage of intercropping to ward off pests, like pairing flax with potatoes to repel Colorado potato beetles.

Get quotes for your exterior renovation or landscaping project can help you get quotes for your exterior renovation project. If you submit your project to us, we’ll put you in contact with top-rated contractors. Fill in the form on the homepage (it only takes a few minutes), and you will receive quotes from companies that are specialized in home renovations.

Dial 1-844 828-1588 to speak with one of our customer service representatives.

Get 3 free quotes for your project!

Submit a project and get 3 free quotes!

Last modified 2024-01-29

List of sources

Get 3 free quotes for your project!

Submit a project and get 3 free quotes!

Looking for something else?

Table of contents

Get 3 free quotes for your project!

Submit a project and get 3 free quotes!

Are you a contractor?

Join our network and receive real leads!

Download the price guide for renovations

We’ll be emailing you the latest market price guide for renovations.

Related articles

The latest industry news, interviews, technologies, and resources.

7 min read • 23 Feb 2024

Go Green with Recycled Paint

For a few years now, Boomerang Paint has been increasingly solicited for interior renovation and decoration projects. The reason being its green characteristics and excellent value for money. If you’re looking for eco-friendly interior paint, opting for recycled paint is the best decision you can make. Learn all about this type of product in the following section.

3 min read • 07 Nov 2023

Everything You Need to Know About Drip Edges

When it comes to the different components of a roof, most are familiar with and recognize the importance of fascias, soffits, or flashings, but what about drip edges?

6 min read • 07 Nov 2023

4 Large-Scale Home Improvement Projects

Pretty much all renovation projects consume a significant amount of time, money and patience. Of course, the reason most homeowners take on a renovation is to improve their quality of life as well as their home resale value.

4 min read

N/A • 07 Nov 2023

The Pros and Cons of Wall Panels

5 min read • 07 Nov 2023

10 old houses that have been renovated and enhanced

Do you appreciate old houses and their unique charm? If you're about to buy one or renovate the one you're currently living in, here are some ideas to inspire you!

Looking for a contractor?

Submit a project and get 3 free quotes now!