The Uptown or Downtown Urban Garden
Location, location, location where you place your plants in your garden is important. Proper location can make the difference between success and failure. However, as long as you apply a few basic guidelines to your garden design it does not matter whether you garden on an uptown balcony or a downtown rooftop, the garden will thrive.
Uptown and downtown both refer to an urban setting that is located in the heart of a city; an area of shops, businesses, apartments, condos, parks, parking lots, and the odd house. These are often population dense spaces with few large outdoor areas for private gardens and a wide range of microclimates, often on the same property.
The first step when planning your urban garden is to determine how much time you have to devote to the project. You want to create a garden that you can install and maintain within your real life schedule, not some idealized version of your life.
This determination will help you decide what size the garden will be. The second decision is what you want to grow. Are you looking for an outdoor room where you can relax after work; a spot where you can get away from it all or are you looking to grow some of your own food; or does a culinary herb garden have appeal.
Now that you have made the decision about what to grow and how much to grow, it is time to consider how you will do the actual growing. Of course your garden will be organic; but will it be a container garden, a raised bed garden or do you have the space for planting your garden straight into the earth?
All three have their pluses and minuses, and an analysis of your time and the site where the garden will be will help you answer this question.
What special conditions exist where you want the garden? Are there structures blocking the sun and creating a shade sometime during the day? Do the winds whip through the area? Is the site sheltered from the rain?
If you are in an apartment or condo what rules exist, that may limit what, and how you grow your garden? Find out before doing anything.
Balconies and rooftops are often hotter, drier and windier than a backyard garden and will likely require more attention. While you can grow just about anything in a container, there are weight issues to consider, when you add soil, a plant and water to a container you add measurably to its weight. Can the site where your garden will be, safely handle the extra weight?
Spend some time sitting and standing in the spot where your garden will be located, talking note of the winds, and hours of sunlight and ant obstacles that may be nearby. Your notes will aid your design and can help in plant selection.
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