Eye On Life Magazine

Make every day a beautiful day.

Eye on Life Magazine is a Lifestyle and Literary Magazine.  Enjoy articles on gardening, kitchen cooking, poetry, vintage decor, and more.

City Gardens Of Today

When I think of city gardens, my mind goes back to the wonderful little court yard and balcony city gardens of New Orleans.  I am especially fond of the Bienville House Hotel’s courtyard garden, which is in my opinion one of those small places when the cares of the world just melts away.  It’s those kinds of oases that every city dweller should seek solace from the troubles of everyday modern life.

I think sometimes, those who live in cities, don’t get a lot of help or encouragement when it comes to gardening.  Yet, city gardening can be rewarding and is so very necessary, especially the soul of the gardener.  No matter how little space you have, even if it is on a balcony, just because you live in the city, doesn’t mean you can’t be a gardener.

Design In City Gardens

The design and attention to city gardens is satisfying, but not without problems.  Almost by definition they are usually undersized compared to that of their more suburban neighbors.  The variety of plant material and design elements — especially the shapes, textures, and colors — must be more cautious planned, so that the overall effect will have appeal without confusion.

Not exclusive to city gardens alone, but especially a problem, is pollution.  City gardens must have their leaves sprayed with water frequently and the soil may have to be replenished, or even replaced from time to time.  Additionally, poor drainage can be handled by planting city gardens with raised beds and making use of attractive containers.  In heavily shaded city garden, extra creativeness in the use of materials such as brick, containers, gravel, shade plants, stone, water, and wood.

Uses of ivy, yew, and privet have proven for centuries to be dependable solutions, even in the most difficult of city growing conditions.  Your best advice for beginning to start your own city garden, is to simply look around and see what others are growing, along with visiting a local garden center or garden show.

City Gardens In Old Neighborhoods

Often in old city neighborhoods, you’ll find attractive weathered brick in your garden area, which is wonderful in keeping with older buildings and sidewalks of the same or similar material.  It’s basic form can be skillfully enriched with trees, shrubs, vines, plant containers, and small fountains.  Essential to the effect of open space in the smaller tightly contained areas, is the careful balance of plants, in relationship to the overall small dimensions of the garden space you have to work with.   Some of your best bets to consider in the design of your new city garden are:

Raised Planting Beds — Especially if your family or others will be viewing the garden from above.

Tiered Fountains — Can be a lovely accent, especially when splashes of water fall down to a rock or moss garden, deliberately set into brick paving.

Higher Walls and Trees — Can put the city garden in proper scale with surrounding buildings and houses.  Adding an open area for sitting, but not too large (that would make it seem empty in the winter when the patio furniture may be put away) is another option.   Potted plants fill in as needed in odd and small places.

Bamboo Screens — Can conceal ugly or unattractive areas.  Be sure to use non-invasive species of bamboo.

Various Themes In City Gardens

The many types of city neighborhoods often dictate the solution to gardens when you are a city dweller.  Keep in mind that any landscaped area near a tall building is more enjoyable to look down upon, if the position of planting beds, terraces, outdoor furniture and the like — is made with the thought in mind that these area will be seen by others from above.

Also keep in mind, that your landscaping should be designed for minimum upkeep and maximum use as “extended outdoor rooms” for entertaining.  All surfaces should be quick drying; choose trees and shrubs that need little trimming or watering.  Maximize the beauty of your container flowers with accents of needed color.

In terms of creativity, city gardens are really just as unlimited as they are anywhere else — use your imagination and let your garden be a reflection of your own personal interests.

One technique in city gardens is to try to divide what space you have into different heights, if possible.  Lean toward distinct geometric shapes that emphasize different areas of your garden.  Use different colors and textures will also help further define your garden spaces.  Sometimes having a multitude of plants along the sides of your city garden will highlight the whole garden and elongate it — making it seem larger than it really is.

Another technique in smaller rectangle shaped city gardens is to landscape it with an open space having no objects to obstruct the view from one end to the other.  Narrow dimensions can often be further disguised by dividing the space into two sections, with completely different functions, such as:

  • A rounded terrace for conversation along with a curved path lending to a close-up view of a favorite sculpture which can be quite inviting.  The space between them can be a low maintenance surface, such as gravel.  Should any seeds fall among the pebbles and some surface-rotted weeds sprout?  No problem, simply pull them up.
  • The rest of your garden should be mass planted with ivy, which will be practically weed free,when it grows in to cover the ground.  One advantage in planting ivies for little or no weeding in mind — is to remember that it should be planted as dense as possible in the beginning, so that no weeds have an opportunity to take hold.

 If You’d Like To Know More About City Gardens:

New Orleans Botanical Gardens

Rooftop Gardens