Urban gardeners are often neglected when it comes to photo inspiration. There’s a wealth of inspiration for rural and suburban gardeners, while urban growers often have to dream outside the box. City gardens are full of beauty and variety, however, and it’s time they had some time in the spotlight. Pictures of vegetable gardens in urban environments may not be as popular, but there are plenty around to inspire you!
Whether you’re sharing space in a community garden or growing greens on your downtown balcony, I know you’ll find images to spark your creativity here. Let’s take a tour!
Urban gardeners really know how to share space! You’re used to tight-knit neighborhoods and community engagement, where people respect each other’s space while working in close proximity.
Gardening is no different.
It’s amazing to see how many city gardens are full-on community projects. In fact, these shared gardens are a great way to bring a community together. Furthermore, the bonds that can spring up among the carrots and tomatoes of urban neighborhood gardens can be lifelong.
There are a few different ways to create a community garden, depending on the area, and the space available. Let’s look at two of the most popular options.
An allotment garden is a type of community garden where patches of earth are rented out to neighbors. Everyone can rent a share or two, and use these patches to grow their own produce. It’s exciting to garden in allotments because you get a chance to see what everyone else is growing. You also have the opportunity to share seeds and cuttings, knowing that they’ll thrive in your own space as well.
In an allotment, everyone grows for themselves, and since space it limited, you get to see which plants are best loved by your neighbors. Ask the lady in the next allotment how she gets such perfect radishes, or give growing tips to the rookie gardener two spots down.
In communal gardens, everyone works together and shares the harvest. It’s like a CSA, but instead of supporting a farmer, you farm your own shared plot. These gardens are a great option for growing popular plants like tomatoes, cabbages, cucumbers, and greens. Avoid growing more experimental plants unless the whole community agrees.
Communal gardens are great for tight-knit communities, shared apartment gardens, and tiny duplex backyards. If you’re a laid-back, veggie-lover, a communal garden is a great, urban option. They’re also ideal for neighborhoods that have large immigrant populations. People can cultivate favorites from back “home”, helping to create a bridge between their old life, and a new beginning.
You don’t need to rent space or share produce, nor even leave your house to be an urban gardener. There are plenty of options for the introverted urban gardener too. From balconies to rooftops to patios, your options can be just as creative as you are.
If you have a balcony, then you can use that little space to grow your own vegetables. In fact, you can fill your balcony with tomatoes, greens, cucumbers, climbing beans, and other compact vegetables that grow well in containers.
Balcony gardens are one of the most beautiful additions to the city scape. Even better, this type of garden can feed a small family and give a verdant, refreshing look to the landscape.
Don’t feel that you need to limit yourself to just a few potted vegetables along the balcony edge. Hang boxes along the rail, trellis plants against the walls, and suspend planters from the ceiling, if you have one.
Not every urban home is an apartment with a balcony. Quite often, even the smallest house has a porch or patio to extend the indoor living space. Fortunately, you can use your patio to grow as many vegetables and herbs as possible.
Patio gardens are a beautiful way to grow a fine crop of vegetables in the heart of the city. They can even feel like tiny rural retreats deep in the concrete jungle. Well-filled patios, with living walls and potted fruit trees or tomatoes, can make a patio feel like a old-world courtyard.
Any patio can become a lush garden, no matter the size. A few potted plants, a living wall, and some trellises are all you need. Add a small bench, potted lime trees, miniature figs, or other indulgences, and your patio garden will grow into your favorite part of the city.
One fantastic option for balcony gardens is a vertical garden. Additionally, planting a living wall is a great way to combined privacy and self-sufficiency in the city. Growing a living wall could double your balcony or patio growing space.
You don’t have to limit living walls to patios or balconies either. A living wall can grow anywhere: indoors or outdoors.
Row House Yard
Maybe you’re living in a condominium or row house? You may have a narrow yard, but you can still use it plant a few, slim raised beds in your space. Try growing tall, narrow plants like beans, leeks, trellised cucumbers, and peas.
Narrow, row house gardens are the closest thing to a typical suburban garden. They give a lot of options for growing bulkier or less attractive plants as well. In addition, nobody will complain if you let your peas go to seed either. Everything grows in the privacy of your own backyard.
In narrow yards, layering plants in pots or stepped raised beds is a great way to maximize space. Try ladder planters or stacked shelves to add vertical space to narrow gardens.
Balcony and patio gardens also benifit from layering. Try tucking a pretty, antique dresser on the patio and planting in the drawers!
Sometimes city houses have larger front yards than back yards. If you want to plant a larger garden, try front yard gardening instead. These types of front yard gardens are beautiful, unique, and full of potential. When back yards are small or non-existent, planting a front yard garden can double your food-growing space.
Check out any local laws and regulations about front yard gardening before planting. Just know that even with serious regulations, a few vegetables can be incorporated into a conventional front garden. For example, you can cultivate kale, radishes, and scarlet runner beans in amongst hollyhocks and roses. Be creative!
Whether you’re short on growing space, or you just want to expand on a patio garden, window boxes can expand your little garden exponentially. Hanging window boxes under windows or along a balcony railing will give you plenty of space to add in greens, radishes, carrots, and beets.
Small plants, herbs, and flowers look cheery and beautiful in these types of boxes. In fact, they look even better if you can cultivate some nasturtiums to spill down over the sides. Window boxes are a joy to grow and they can add a surprising amount of space to your urban garden.
Even if you live in the heart of the city, you can grow a box herb garden outside a sunny window. Herbs are ideal plants for window boxes, as they can be kept to manageable sizes easily. They also fill your home with delicious scents on summer days, when the windows are open and the breeze is blowing over the plants.
Try sage, thyme, basil, parsley, and cilantro for a culinary herb box. Alternatively, lemon balm, mint, lavender, and chamomile make a delicious tea box garden instead. Or, if you have enough space outside a couple of different windows, plant both!
Rooftop gardens are a popular addition to many city highrise apartments. Some rooftop gardens are allotments, some are communal gardens, and some are individual. Gardens are beautiful ways to turn otherwise wasted space in to a rich, bountiful growing space.
These spaces can turn an urban landscape in a lush paradise. In addition, they’re a great way to brighten up the cityscape and provide a bit of respite from all the hectic life below. If your building hasn’t put in a full-scale rooftop garden yet, build your own with planters, pots, and growing boxes!
Nothing’s prettier on a rooftop garden than a bright, glass greenhouse. Greenhouses extend the growing season, keep delicate plants safe from extreme weather events, and give your rooftop garden a focal point.
Rooftop greenhouses can provide privacy in the midst of a shared garden space as well. They’re great for small parties or as community spaces too.
Tiny greenhouses can also be incorporated into balcony, patio, and even window box gardens.
Inspirational City Gardens
No matter what your options are, be sure to soak up some inspiration and make your urban garden a haven of beauty.
Whether you’re growing communally in that big empty lot down the block, or independently gardening on your own, private balcony, I know you’ll find an image here to inspire your space.