AGC Blog

3 Ways to Plant Seeds in the City

June 8, 2015

Traditionally, the phrase “concrete jungle” has evoked images of grey, angular buildings and barren streets. We rarely look at our urban surroundings as a fertile home for growth. However, architects and homeowners alike are developing innovative ways to bring this jungle to life.

Sustainable residential gardening can not only improve the environment, but also increase home energy efficiency. Here are three easy ways you can plant seeds in the city:

Rooftop gardens

Many city slickers trade in the possibility of a bountiful home garden in exchange for the glamor and convenience of urban life. Luckily, an emerging trend in sustainable design has helped to offset this lack of backyard space. City dwellers can create suburban oases by utilizing flat, unused roof space. Planting a green roof requires a bit of preliminary investigation. Before you fulfill your dream of growing heirloom tomatoes, evaluate your roof’s structural loading capacity, slope, and waterproofing. You’ll also want to monitor the space’s sun and wind exposure. Once up and running, your rooftop garden will provide a variety of long-term sustainable benefits, including increased insulation and reduced run off. Not to mention the positive environmental impact of local produce!

Vertical gardens

Vertical gardens are another creative option for city dwellers interested in planting, but limited by space. For those without a conveniently accessible roof (we’re talking most of San Francisco), building “up” is a great alternative. Think the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Using mounted pockets or containers, or a wooden trellis, you can mount your garden onto any interior or exterior wall. By modifying the size and depth of containers, your vertical plot has the potential to host anything from simple succulents to edible leafy greens. Many vertical gardeners have also reported improved insulation and soundproofing.

Hydroponic gardens

Hydroponics is a lesser-known option for urban growers. However, there’s a good chance you’ve already experimented with this type of gardening. Have you ever used toothpicks to suspend an avocado pit over a cup of water? Did you watch a stem sprout and begin to leaf? If so, you are already an expert! Hydroponic gardening replaces soil with nutrient-rich water solutions. Hydroponic systems––composed of towers, trays, and A-frames––can be built at home or easily purchased. While many gardeners install hydroponic systems outdoors, this planting technique can be easily adapted for the indoors using artificial bulbs. And because hydroponics is soil-free, you can avoid the mess of dirt!

Through creativity and innovation, urbanites can bring nature to even the busiest of streets. Happy planting!