10 Ideas for Urban Gardening, Even In Small Spaces

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You don’t need a yard to grow plants, with these 10 ideas for urban gardening

By Chere Di Boscio

In 2008, for the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population was reported to be living in cities. By 2030 this number will swell to almost 5 billion, with most of this urban growth expected to be concentrated in Africa and Asia.

What that means is that over half the world’s population is unlikely to have private outdoor space–but don’t despair. Just because you live in a city doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some urban gardening–it just takes a little imagination.

We’ve found 10 ideas for urban gardening, keeping in mind the small outdoor spaces city folk need to work in–and best of all, some of these ideas even work when there’s no outdoor space whatsoever.

1. Grow a Green Wall

Companies like Urbio and ELT Living Walls  allow even the laziest gardeners to grow thriving interior green walls. Green walls not only look awesome and clean the air, they act as soundproofing from the neighbours, too!

Just about any kind of plant you fancy will work with these systems, and best of all, their construction means that root rot and overwatering is almost impossible.

urban gardening

2. Create Classic Window Boxes

Even if your apartment has zero outdoor space, it will at least have a window–and that means you can have a window box. For those without windowsills, options like these that hang from a bar you install between the walls of your window are perfect and add some colour to your home, indoors and out. Geraniums, dwarf cedars and Margaritas are just a few of the many plants that grow well in window boxes all year round.


3. Add An Indoor Moss Wall

This indoor gardening idea doesn’t need much natural light–in fact, it doesn’t like even direct sunlight at all, and what’s more: it doesn’t need watering, fertilising, or pruning. Incredibly, it comes ready to install on any surface. What is this amazing product? MossTile, from Benetti Stone.  The tiles provide a virtually maintenance-free vertical  garden that is as dense as you like–the design possibilities are endless.


4. Hang out with Herbs

Take one unused shoe holder, add some soil and some seedlings, and hang in the kitchen near a sunny spot to ensure you have fresh herbs, sprouts and even lettuces all throughout the year. Burlap and cotton materials work well–ensure the fabric can breathe to avoid root rot, and don’t overwater to avoid mould from forming on the fabric.

ideas for urban gardening

5. Give Old Tyres a New Life

Tyres can be pretty toxic–many get burned in landfill, creating cancerous smoke. Keep the air clean by reusing busted tyres as planters. Just stack the tyres up in a staggered pyramid shape to create a sold ‘wall’ of plants. Looks even lovelier when the tyres are painted bright colours.


6. Go Potty in the Kitchen

Potted plants are fine and well, but those plastic containers they come in are a bit depressing. Solve the problem by either painting them all white with a non-toxic paint; repotting them into ceramic containers, or even better yet, upcycling some unused tea tins, like these, to form the perfect shabby chic herb garden.

ideas for urban gardening

7. Awash in Beauty: Bathtub Planters

Lucky enough to have a balcony? Should you also happen to be renovating and come into possession of an unwanted bathtub, it could make the perfect potter! Larger than most store-bought ceramic pots, it allows you to make your balcony all the greener with more space for planting. Just don’t forget to drill in the draining holes at the bottom!


8. Get the Hang of String Gardens

This is one of my personal favourite ideas for urban gardening! Based on traditional Japanese techniques, string gardens  are easy to maintain: just spray the roots occasionally with a plant mister. By binding the roots in a mossy soil mixture and hanging the plant from the ceiling, many varieties of plants can grow this way, from small fruit trees to flowers.

ideas for urban gardening

9. Sit on It! A Chair Made from Mushrooms

If you have absolutely no place to grow plants and can’t really be bothered to care for them anyway, there’s still hope–you could make plants your furniture.

Designer Eric Klarenbeek has used experimental raw materials as 3D printing material: organic substrate for mushroom growing, and bioplastics. Working with scientists, Klarenbeek has developed a new way of 3D printing that involves living organisms. The result is  a chair that sprouts mushrooms. Called the Mycelium Chair, this odd piece of furniture is 3D printed using a mixture of water, powdered straw and mycelium, with a thin coating of bioplastic

Just add some spores through straw that comes packed into the porous framework of the chair, and literally sit back and watch the mushrooms grow!

ideas for urban gardening

10. Create a Green Pillar Garden

Vertical gardens have become all the rage because of their compact design, ease of care and maintenance–and they can even help you stock your fridge.

This  Strawberry Tree – Vertical Hanging Grow Bag, for example, will allow you to grow not only strawberries, but tomatoes, blueberries and other plant varieties, all in the form of a pillar.

This unique planter quickly and easily grows delicious food for you, right there on your patio, deck or balcony and makes gardening so much easier and cleaner when you can water, trim, feed and harvest while standing up. It features a larger soil container for larger root systems and has 15 starburst planting ports that can support up to 30 plants in one planter. This is a great hanging container gardening solution for fresh fruit lovers who live in apartments and flats, or for anyone who has limited yard space or just wants to eliminate the hassles of traditional gardening.

ideas for urban gardening


Chere Di Boscio

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  • Reply
    Dorothy Coe de Hernandez
    Jun 17, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    Love the brightly painted tires idea, a great way to add a large splash of color along the side of my driveway.

  • Reply
    Aug 6, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    I’m interested in the idea of hanging the herbs! I’ll make it near my windows in my bedroom!

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