Urban Gardening Tips

I gardened in urban environments most of my life- until I moved into the country to my present home. There certainly are some challenges to urban gardening, but I think it was actually more fun because of the restricted spaces.

Did you read about “Ecopolitan” gardening on the previous page?

By accident I learned that there aren’t many obvious resources for new Urban gardeners, but I hope to list some tips and resources here.

You can have a great garden in the city.

What are the challenges to an urban garden?

  • Pollution
  • Crowding between buildings
  • Effect of neighbors choices
  • Poor soils
  • Small area

How-to solutions to those challenges?

  • Choosing pollution-tolerant plants
  • Dealing with shade and maximizing available sunshine
  • Use of fences and screening plants
  • Creating areas of improved soils
  • Maximizing space with vertical gardening and wise plant choices

City yards in Chicago

City yards in Chicago

You’ve gathered your tools, and started to improve the soil in the planting areas. Next, decide whether you want additional fences or screening plants.

Are there areas that you hate to look at? Traffic noises to mute? Loose dogs or two legged visitors you want to steer away from trampling on your garden?

Consider using the age-old solution of a fence or deter their interest with shrub plants. Spiny ones will add further messages (often necessary).

Always look for the designations “dwarf” and “compact”, or “fastigiate” [tall and slender, or narrow], and check height and spread measurements for best choices in small spaces.

Pollution Tolerant Plant List

Trees & ShrubsPerennialsGrass, Annuals & Vines
Berberis darwiniiHelleboresLiriope
SpireaAchilleaVinca rosea
CrabappleCoreopsisBidens feruifolia
Littleleaf LindenLimoniumPetunias
Red OakTeucriumColeus
SweetgumThymusVirginia Creeper, Boston Ivy
Mugo PineErigeronMorning Glory vine

In general, plants having hairy surface of leaves trap more dust and are, therefore, damaged more by air pollution than the plants with shiny leaf surface.

Do You Have An Urban Garden?
Urban Garden Videos

Tip: Use vines on fences to help buffer noise and pollution. Boston ivy or Virginia creeper grow well under city conditions.

A serenity garden is an oasis of calm in the city, add the sound of trickling water from a fountain or created with a small pond kit. The green and white limited palette is perfect for evenings after a long day at work.

Serenity Garden
A Moon Garden

Some Helpful Links:
Large trees in your urban landscape.
Air Pollution Damage to Plants [PDF]
Prospect & Refuge
City Dirt Blog