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The Uptown or Downtown Urban Garden

Updated on October 26, 2011


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.

start of balcony growing season, Bob Ewing photo
start of balcony growing season, Bob Ewing photo


Submit a Comment

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks for dropping by.

  • The Rope profile image

    The Rope 8 years ago from SE US

    Very well done! Thanks and keep 'um coming...

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks you both for dropping by.

  • RGraf profile image

    Rebecca Graf 8 years ago from Wisconsin

    Very good tips. So many urbanites are looking for ways to be a little more "rural".

  • profile image

    Creativita 8 years ago

    Bob Ewing, a winner of a hub. I love the concept of "microclimates." I wish I had an appropriate space for the kind of gardening you write so well about here in NYC.

    Sadly, I don't. But reading your words about such wonders is next best. -Creativita/Helen

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    Vegetables need attention and time, thanks for dropping by.

  • jiberish profile image

    jiberish 8 years ago from florida

    Bob, another great Hub! I have a urban garden, and all my veggies died this year. The flowers are doing great, but we haven't had enough rain, and the veggies didn't survive my lack of attention to them.

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    I do, thanks for the kind words, and thanks for dropping by.

  • Storytellersrus profile image

    Barbara 8 years ago from Stepping past clutter

    You work every aspect of gardening, don't you? Impressive. Thanks.