You may not think that having a garden is possible if you live in a busy urban environment. However, there are many ways you can enjoy having your own rooftop or backyard garden anywhere, even in the city. And if you ever move to a new home, you can always move your garden with you. With the right conditions and plants, anyone can enjoy a beautiful garden, even on a rooftop. Read on to discover tips to help you learn the art of vegetable gardening, so you can have a fresh harvest and design an urban garden at home.

Where to place your garden: things to consider

In most cases, an urban garden will either be on a rooftop or in a backyard area. Depending on where you live and what type of plants you choose, you’ll want to keep some important things in mind.

Rooftop: Use lightweight planters made from materials like wood, fiberglass, or plastic. Lighten your planters using some Styrofoam packing peanuts, and be sure to allow for maximum airflow. Rooftops can get hot, so you want to add pallet walls or trellises to protect them from extreme temperatures and high winds. A vertical rooftop garden along the wall is also ideal since higher walls on rooftops provide additional protection. Look to see where the peak sun hits the roof before you plant your garden to ensure that the plants don’t get scorched or lack proper sunlight. You’ll also want to ensure that all the plants in containers have adequate drainage to avoid root rot.

Backyard: A backyard garden will give you more flexibility, but you still want to ensure that the plants are getting good irrigation and that the soil is draining correctly. A few raised garden beds will give your plants separation and keep the soil moist and fresh. Choose veggies and fruits like strawberries, onions, hot peppers, and tomatoes for raised garden beds. Fertilize the soil regularly using an organic fertilizer. You can cover the garden with netting to prevent pests from gnawing on your plants.

Urban gardens: popular styles

There are several ways you can plant your garden to maximize space.

  • Container garden: A container garden consists of individual plants in their own separate pots or containers. Check to ensure that each container has good drainage and that they’re strategically placed in areas with good sunlight.
  • Vertical garden: You can use old wooden pallets or trellises to plant a vertical garden. Vining plants are ideal for this type of garden since they’ll latch onto the structure and grow in an upward direction.
  • Raised beds: For an urban backyard garden, consider adding several raised beds. This will allow for excellent drainage, and it will keep your soil nice and fresh so the plants can thrive and flourish.

Deciding what to grow

In an urban environment, certain plants will do better than others. Here are some easy-to-grow vegetables and herbs that you can plant in either a rooftop or backyard urban garden setting.

Salad greens: Salad greens like lettuce and kale grow great in containers. Within just three weeks, you should see the fruits of your labor. Keep them well-watered and plant them in summer for best results.

Radishes: This spicy veggie grows well in direct soil, so they’re ideal for backyard gardens. Sow them about a month after the last frost and look for growth you can harvest about one month after planting.

Potatoes: Everyone loves this ultra-versatile vegetable, and they can be grown directly in the ground, in large pots, or potato bags. Plant them in early spring, and look for your spuds around July through September.

Herbs: You can easily grow various herbs like basil, thyme, and rosemary in small pots. Place the pots in a sunny window or in containers on your rooftop garden and clip them as they grow to enjoy them in various recipes.

Gardening supplies

Here are some crucial urban gardening supplies to gather before you start planting:

  • Seeds: If you’re growing plants from scratch, gather all of your seeds together before you plant.
  • Rich soil: Look for nutrient-rich, organic soil to grow your veggies healthily.
  • Pots/containers: Whether it’s beautiful pottery, old milk jugs, or other containers, make sure you have plenty of pots with lots of room for the plants’ roots to spread out.
  • Gloves: Get a quality pair of gardening gloves to protect your hands and fingernails.
  • Pruning shears: You’ll want a nice, sharp pair of pruning shears to help you cut dead stems and leaves and to clip off the top of certain plants for harvesting.
  • Hose/watering can: Invest in a quality garden hose and a large watering can so you can keep the soil nice and moist.
  • Fertilizer: Choose organic fertilizer whenever possible, and always choose fertilizers formulated for your specific types of plants.

Best time of year to grow

The time of year you start planting depends on where you live and what type of urban garden you have.

  • Use the USDA plant hardiness zone map as a guide and choose safe plants to grow in your zone.
  • Plant hardy vegetables like garlic, cabbage, or broccoli 2-4 weeks before the last spring frost so the seeds will germinate.
  • Vegetables like beans, corn, and tomatoes should be planted about three weeks or more after the last winter frost.
  • Warm-season vegetables like cucumbers and peppers should be planted and grown in temperatures over 50-degrees Fahrenheit.
  • If you plant vegetables out of season, use cold frames or row covers to protect them from damaging frost.

With the right tools, conditions, and location, anyone can enjoy the benefits of having a rooftop or backyard urban garden. Learn about the plants you’re interested in to determine what type of soil, water, drainage, and fertilizer they need. After a bit of practice and patience, you’ll have a range of delicious veggies to enjoy that are picked right from your own backyard. 

Author's Bio: Cassandra Rosas

Cassandra is a content writer at Porch.com. She is passionate about health and wellbeing, the environment, sustainability, reading, writing, and music. 
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