Microgardens can be created on roofs, balconies, small patios, fire escapes and small landscaped areas, using edibles as decorative and ornamental features instead of strictly edible plants, says urban gardener Melinda Myers.
A once-bare, tiny yard behind a row house in Brooklyn, N.Y., now features a canopy of plants, such as crepe myrtles and camellias. Landscape designer Michael Van Valkenburgh planted trees that naturally cool the garden terrace and house and created a bird habitat. The new paving is mica schist, which is arranged in a pattern that mimics logs flowing down a river. The garden was a 2015 ASLA award winner.
Micro gardening opens up food growing possibilities for city dwellers, renters and others. Roof gardens are a great way to grow in urban spaces, but Anne Gibson of TheMicroGardeners.com says it's important to consider drainage and local weather conditions. If exposed to winds or strong sun without protection, plants tend to dry out more quickly.
Built-in planter boxes made of redwood give a young family easy access to vegetable and herbs in their backyard, surrounded by two- and three-story apartment buildings in San Francisco. The project by St John Landscapes won a 2015 award from the Association of Professional Landscape Designers.
Ryan Benoit and Chantal Aida Gordon of The Horticult threaded stainless steel rods through terra-cotta pots and suspended them from horizontal surfaces. These striking vertical gardens can punch up the smallest balconies and patios.
The small space behind a Brooklyn, N.Y., row house was enclosed on two sides by a 12-foot brick wall and bare with no plants. To create the illusion of a bigger space, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, added ivy to the walls and brought in plants such as camellias and crape myrtles. The project was an 2015 American Society of Landscape Architects award winner.
Line a wire spice rack with burlap and load each shelf with soil and plants. Chris McLaughlin of Laughing Crow & Company recommends plants that can thrive in shallow soil, such as herbs, alyssum, strawberries and succulents.
Micro gardens can be started in even the tiniest of containers and spaces. You can make miniature greenhouses for seed raising and microgreens by upcycling plastic food-grade punnets and bottles, suggests Anne Gibson of themicrogardener.com.
Vegetables, herbs and greens are grown around the deck of a San Francisco garden that slopes 8 feet from the back door and is bordered by apartments. St. John Landscapes used succulents, variegated plants, Burgundy cordyline, evergreen vines that contrast with the ground cover border and evergreen grasses, for the APLD award-winning project.
A contemporary patio of a coastal California home uses concrete pads surrounded by colored gravel and massed succulents, which can be a low maintenance microgarden option. Grounded Modern Landscape Architecture designed the award-winning space.
Regular harvesting will keep plants, such as these in containers along a walkway, producing. You also will get even more produce from your small space, says Melinda Myers, an urban gardener. For example, she suggests picking outer leaves of lettuce and other greens when they are 4 to 6 inches tall and Swiss chard and kale when 8 to 10 inches inches tall.
Herb Garden in a Pale Blue Painted Gutter Hanging Set Up
The slim profile of this portable herb garden makes it ideal for small outdoor spaces. Amy Baesler of Her Tool Belt painted three lengths of gutter in robin’s nest blue then suspended them from a DIY stand.
Microgardens can be as tiny as a few square inches in a container or several square feet in a garden bed, says Anne Gibson of themicrogardener.com. Here, a small raised garden bed is intensively planted with edibles.