With the increasingly popular expansion of urban farming, and limited real estate space, many apartment complexes, retirement homes, and other buildings are adding gardens and outdoor living spaces to their roofs. I have visited a few of these and they are a very welcome edition to the buildings, often creating a view not before experienced, with the added benefit of greenery to help absorb the energies of the city and provide fresh food and oxygen. Roof top gardens can also add insulation and reduce energy usage, provide a location for solar panels, rain collection systems and other environmentally friendly editions. What could be better than turing your unutilized roof into a new space for gardening or enjoying the outdoors.
Flowers continue to be the showcase of many residential and commercial gardens, and for good reason "there wonderul". Summer flowers shine out and color the neighborhood or city streets,but some gardens do more than others. Landscapers and Nurseries are often looking for more color, new speicies or new ways to showcase flowers. Try using a ground cover that also flowers, like; vinca, alyssum, or ajuga ( too many to list so check with your nursery) plant bulbs so when they bloom in spring they add a new dimension and surround these with flowering perennials. Be sure to add some variations that are also eye-catching in the fall. Flowering gardens can also be drought tolerant using selection such as; sage, lavendar and rock rose.
Grow your own and you will never go back. Home grown tomatoes are the best and the prices of grocery vegetables increase all the more reason to try growing your own. Many landscapes can be designed to include beautiful gardens that include fruit and vegetables. Potatoes can be grown easily in a back porch container, and blueberries fit into the rest of the landscape with the added benefit of fruit. Some of the easiest vegetables to grow and enjoy are; tomatoes, corn, herbs - oregano, thyme, sage, cilantro, parsley, squash, strawberries, onions and garlic.
We have had a number of community and garden activist promoting seed exchanges and plant exchanges here in the bay area over the last few years and this is a great way to share plants, get local organic seeds and find friends who also love plants and gardening as much as you do. If you have or know of a plant or seed exchange coming up be sure to let us know.
This article can be seen in an upcoming publication of urban gardener.
Adding a deck to the back yard can bring new life to an outdoor living space.We recently added a 400 sq/ft composite deck and although it was an investment we now use our backyard much more than before. We chose composite so our kids could play and not worry about splinters and we could elliminate the annual application of stain or oil to keep the wood healthy. After adding an outdoor grill, some benchs and chairs the deck gets lots of use and is a great place to entertain and ejoy the fresh air.