City life is great, but with summer on the horizon, many of us living in and around the Square Mile will be longing for the gardens that come with houses outside London.
Patios and terraces can often be drab, uninspiring places. But don’t fret – it’s easy to transform your slice of outdoor space (however small it might be) into an oasis of greenery and calm. All it requires is a little know-how!
So, we’re here to help. Here are seven ideas to help you make the most of your urban garden.
Add raised beds and planters
No soil? No problem! Flowers, shrubs, and trees don’t need to grow directly into the ground to flourish, so it doesn’t matter if your space is a sea of paving slabs, pebbles, or concrete. Measure up your outdoor space and get your hands on some gorgeous planters that you can fill up with soil and varieties of flora.
If you have a courtyard, why not place a planter in front of each wall to create a beautiful boarder and pretty-up blank walls? Add in bright blooms for pops of colour, and climbers to create luscious living fences. Some planters also have built-in seats, which is great for saving that ever precious space!
Balconies and rooftops will also benefit from planters, as well as assortments of stylish pots. Mix up the sizes, shapes, and colours to add intrigue and three-dimensionality to your City garden.
Pick your plants wisely
Plants, shrubs, trees, and flowers can clean the air, boost your mood, smell delightful, and brighten up your space, be it a dingy balcony, vacuous rooftop, or claustrophobic courtyard.
Be mindful of the conditions of your space, and select plants dependant on whether you get sun, shade, or wind. Opting for varieties that aren’t fussy about light, soil, or space will be to your advantage.
Courtyards come with the benefit of being sheltered and relatively warm, meaning that you can often grow more exotic plants that would struggle to thrive in the countryside – like pretty palms and mighty bamboo.
However, if your courtyard has tall walls, large areas of your space are likely often in shade. You will need to choose plants that can survive in warm but shady conditions – things like ferns, bellflowers, hellebores, ivy, hydrangeas, and hostas will do well. Small trees planted in pots, like osmanthus and olive are also ideal.
If your space receives a lot of sun, like a rooftop garden or south-facing balcony, go for sun-loving plants – Mediterranean herbs like rosemary and thyme, as well as things like verbascums, fan palms, acacias, myrtus, and santolina.
When selecting plants, be mindful of how much wind your garden is likely to receive – add supports and choose hardy plants, foregoing spindly trees if it’s likely to be wind-stricken.
Lots of plants can make even the most urban of spaces feel like a garden, so keep it tight in terms of varieties, and fill your space with foliage, texture, and colour.
Don’t have much floor space for pots and planters? Plant vertically! Hang box or pallet planters on courtyard walls and attach containers to balcony rails.
You can also make use of things like hanging baskets and climbing plants, like ivy and honeysuckle. Not only will these ideas save you space, but they will also extend the greenery upwards, helping to hide dingy brick and brighten up dark spots.
Create some privacy
Urban gardens tend to be overlooked, but it’s easy to fashion areas of privacy.
On balconies, simply add a planter filled with bamboo either side for a gorgeously simple screen.
In small garden plots, establish zones that are fenced off from peeping eyes with a few trellises featuring beautiful climbing and flowering plants like clematis, jasmine, or climbing roses. Trees are another natural way to add privacy. Plant them in the ground or in large pots positioned around the perimeter of your space.
Expand your space
Have a teeny, tiny courtyard or garden? With a few simple hacks you can make your space feel much bigger (and less claustrophobic) than it is.
If four walls hem you in, the simplest thing to start with is to paint all of them white or a very light pastel colour. This will open-up the area and reflect sunlight – perfect for shady courtyards. Strategically placed mirrors can work in a similar way – these can be used in both courtyards and gardens to draw-out a section of your urban garden.
Go big with plants to blur the boundaries of space – create a garden that’s lush and full of depth, with an array of larger plants that make a small garden feel bigger, as opposed to lots of small plants. Opt for those that are shoulder height or taller. Easy, large plants that can be grown in pots and planters include things like palms, yucas, giant sunflowers, giant rhubarb, fatsia japonica, hollyhocks, giant fennel, torch lilies, and foxgloves.
Be careful with furniture selection
This might seem like the easiest aspect of an urban garden, but if you’re not careful you’ll end up with furniture that devours all your space and goes mouldy after a few rainy evenings!
Make sure that whatever chairs and tables you select are water-proof, not simply water-resistant, and are able to be left outside all-year-round.
Choose items that fit the décor of your home, carrying your style and personality outdoors. Space-savers include things like hammocks, garden bean bags, and chair-and-table sets that stack under one another.
Add relaxing sounds
Complete your garden oasis with the addition of calming, natural sounds. If space permits, install a compact water feature – one that trickles water rather than gushes it.
Plant an assortment of tall, whispering grasses that can rustle in the wind and distract you from the sounds of traffic, and finish things off with a wind-chime. Hang it on a rail or tree not too far from where you will sit – the tinkling sounds are sure to relax you after a long day’s work in the City.
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