ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How To Garden in the City: Creative Urban Gardening Ideas

Updated on July 26, 2009

Gardening is one of the most popular and beneficial activities in the world. It produces fresh, healthy produce for families and helps reduce food bills in tough economic times. It produces flowers and foliage that provide beauty for human residents and food and shelter for wildlife. It encourages people to get outside for some fresh air and exercise, and harvesting hand grown and tended fruits, vegetables, and flowers provides the deep physical and mental satisfaction of a productive job well done.

Unfortunately, gardening is often much more difficult for city dwellers than residents of rural areas and suburbs. City gardeners may be forced to make do with tiny, often heavily shaded lots, or even mere balconies. The tight spaces force urban gardeners to be more efficient and more creative than other gardeners. Here are some ideas for how to stretch the space available to you for gardening:

  • Balcony gardening. If you have a balcony, one of the most basic and common forms of urban gardening is balcony gardening. Among the popular plants that do well in pots on balconies are strawberries, tomatoes, and many flowers and herbs. Maximize space by mixing large and small pots and incorporating planter boxes and hanging baskets.
  • Grow lights. Although gardeners with more space use them primarily for starting seeds, grow lights are a great way for city gardeners to extend the growing space indoors, even to dark corners of your apartment or home. Hydroponics, an indoor system of gardening that uses mineral nutrient solutions instead of soil, is also especially popular in urban areas, and makes extensive use of grow lights.

Green Roofs and Living Walls

  • Living walls, green walls, and vertical gardens. Living walls can be designed to go either indoors or outdoors. They are similar in appearance to a wall covered with ivy or another climbing vine, but unlike ivy covered walls, in which the plant is anchored in the soil, living walls are made of a network of interlocking planters which allow a much wider variety of plants to be used in them, including both edible and ornamental species. To learn more and see pictures and videos of green walls in action, visit The Basics of Living Walls, Green Walls, and Vertical Gardens.
  • Green roofs. If you can get permission to build one on your roof, green roofs offer significant benefits to energy efficiency and reduction of stormwater runoff from rooftops. They are also a great way to increase growing space in urban environments. When adding a green roof to an existing building, it is important to check for the structural soundness of the roof, due to the added weight green roofs will add. Once built, the green roof can be managed by the landlord or by the residents, either individually or as part of a resident's association or club.

A beautiful urban garden

Photo by shaggyshoo
Photo by shaggyshoo
  • Yardsharing. An increasingly common practice in many urban areas is something known as "yardsharing." Yardsharing arrangements vary widely, but the basic idea is to combine resources to maximize gardening space. For example, two neighbors, both gardeners, might decide to knock down a fence between them and create one large shared garden in the extra space. In another case, one neighbor who loves to garden and another who dislikes it but wants an attractive yard or fresh produce or flowers for the table might exchange gardening space for labor or a share of the vegetables or cut flowers produced by the garden. Yardsharing arrangements do not necessarily have to be between neighbors. A suburban friend might offer an apartment dweller his yard in a yardsharing arrangement if the apartment dweller is willing to commit to the regular commute to use it.
  • Community gardens. Another concept that has exploded in popularity in recent years is the community garden. Community gardens are often planted on unused city lots and governed by community gardening associations, which may divide the garden into plots for each family who commits to growing a garden in the space provided. Others are managed more communally. In addition to allowing city families to enjoy a garden, many community gardens also benefit their local neighborhoods. Many incorporate play areas or flower gardens with walking trails or benches in one area of the garden, in order to provide a place for neighborhood children to experience nature. Others incorporate youth programs from local schools or other organizations to teach city kids how to grow their own food, or donate a portion of the produce to food banks or other organizations helping the hungry.
  • Guerrilla gardening. Another form of gardening gaining popularity in urban areas is "guerrilla gardening." Guerrilla gardeners take over a neglected piece of land, clean it up, and plant flowers, vegetables, or other plants. Because guerrilla gardeners do not own the land they are seeking to improve, some work secretly at night, while others strive harder to engage the local community and work openly to encourage community participation in their project.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • paolaenergya profile image

      Paola Bassanese 

      3 years ago from London

      Well, in 2015 your article is still looking as fresh as in 2009! I have recently joined a local community garden and I can say I haven't felt this happy in a long time! Long live urban/community gardening!

    • megni profile image


      6 years ago

      You've covered the subject well. Thanks. I"m tweeting your advice!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      awesome! i don't live in the city but it is good to have advice to save even more space!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thank you kindly for the amazing hub. I will be bookmarking this one as you have many helpful links to a variety of other topics I would also enjoy reading and learning about.

    • advisor4qb profile image


      9 years ago from On New Footing

      Nice hub. People in the city are so out of touch with nature. What a nice way to bring that back!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)