In the not-too-distant big-city past, the only spots of garden beauty were a few orchids in a penthouse greenhouse, the city park, or greenery coaxed from tiny pots by dedicated green thumbs (and honestly, they weren’t much to look at.) Few would have dreamed of the full-scale rooftop gardens and other entrancing hardscapes favored by today’s urban dwellers devoted to natural beauty. From seasonal window boxes to paved gardens and outdoor kitchens, urban landscaping is a “sky’s the limit” proposition these days, literally.
Of course, city life still means lots of people, noisy traffic and cold stone structures. The trick to creating a personal green space within the hubbub involves some ingenuity, especially if you’re working with a particularly small space. But keeping your eye on the prize helps. Imaging plunging your hands into rich earth, picking a few blooms for the table from your own garden spot or reading a book in the shade of an evergreen you grew yourself.
And keep in mind, while it takes a while for plants and plans to mature, you can get small results almost instantly. HGTV offered these tips for urban landscaping newbies:
Start right away with something small. To get a feel for what might grow outside in your Chicago space, whether that’s a stoop, porch or rooftop, see how a few pots of violets or even kale or mint fare at your house.
Evaluate the basics. Any urban landscaping that involves live plants will require sunshine and water. Identify what is available in both of those areas, and what you might need to do (or have professionals do) to make up for any shortfall.
Use even a small patch of earth. A tiny bit of empty dirt can be used for a small lawn or a raised bed for seasonal gardening. Consider planting just a tiny row of ornamental grasses to start, or go for a cluster or two of hearty pansies in the fall.
Wow ’em with a wall garden. Another unexpected trend among city homeowners is growing the green stuff (and flowers) on vertical planters. They can range from hooks that simply hold window boxes of flowers to elaborate “living wall” arrangement.
Consider pencil hollies. According to HGTV’s Kristi York Wooten, these thin trees can be trimmed to any height. “Planted individually in large pots, they make great accent pieces for porches and patios,” she said. “Planted together in the ground, a handful of hollies can make a perfect mini privacy fence for an urban yard.”
While you’re going the distance with your own hard work and creativity, consider enlisting the help of an urban landscaping designer. Botanical Concepts Chicago will guide you each step of the way from plain rooftop, small lawn or stoop to urban oasis. Contact us to get started.