City dwellers often rely on botanical gardens and city parks for their outdoor fix, but many may have a perfectly good garden space in the back yard. Of course, the small backyard space may covered with concrete or overrun with weeds and worse. That doesn’t mean there is no hope.
You can never magically expand a small space into a lush suburban garden escape, but there are good ways to use small urban backyard spaces. Here are five of the best options for a small urban garden.
The idea of a vegetable farm may conjure huge rural spaces, but plenty of food can be grown in a very small space. Some companies such as Minifarmbox specialize in products for small vegetable gardens, urban and otherwise. The company suggests an ambitious city dweller can grow 80 heads of lettuce, 70 pounds of tomatoes, 50 pounds of beets and more in a four-foot-by-four-foot raised garden bed.
Of course, it takes some planning and strategy to optimize an urban vegetable garden. Ideally, most vegetables want six to eight hours of full sun, so you may need a raised bed on wheels to help chase the sun. Also use a good rich planting mix and fertilize regularly, particularly if using raised beds, where you have not access to the natural nutrients in the soil. Also focus on dwarf varieties. Miniature eggplants, tomatoes and more are packed with plenty of flavor you can’t find at the supermarket.
The National Wildlife Federation will register certified wildlife habitats as small as apartment balconies. In the dense concrete jungles of cities, it is particularly important to ensure safe spaces for birds and other wildlife. The NWF has four requirements for its certified wildlife habitats:
• You must provide food for wildlife, which can be as simple as a hanging feeder or a few native plants.
• You must supply water for wildlife, which may include birdbaths or small puddling areas for butterflies.
• You must create cover for wildlife, including birdhouses or even dead trees.
• You must have a space for wildlife to raise their young, which can include a nesting box, mature trees, caterpillar host plants or a planting of dense shrubs.