Urban gardens may have begun as a means to connect us to our rural roots, but we can now turn to those cities themselves for garden inspiration. Designers and gardeners are creating spaces that are doing more than simply replacing asphalt with plants — they’re bringing communities together, providing habitats for migrating birds, and housing vegetables on city skyscrapers. See how the eight metropolitan gardens below are energizing attempts even past the city roads.
Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design LLC
1. Keep things easy. Landscape designer Matthew Cunningham designed this Boston courtyard using three hardscape materials and restricted his planting to two main plants. Use its simplicity as inspiration to your garden, irrespective of size. By maintaining a concentrated palette, the design is cohesive, and garden upkeep is considerably more compact.
Watch more of the Boston courtyard
Future Green Studio
2. Grow edibles by an outdoor table. This sunken dining room is a former rooftop pool. Along with enjoying panoramic New York views, diners can enjoy meals made with the vegetables and herbs grown here. You can’t get much more local.
Watch more of the urban pool plantation
3. Grow up. MFO Park, in Zurich, Switzerland, has paving, plants and chairs layered all in precisely the exact same footprint — space saving and efficient, not to mention elegant. Even if distance is not a restriction, you don’t have to restrict yourself to the ground plane; think up.
Watch more of the vertical park
Lynn Gaffney Architect, PLLC
4. Allow you are inspired by the views. This contemporary trellis at New York’s Chelsea area was inspired by the surrounding industrial water towers. Look around you for ideas out of your own cityscape. You may notice a detail to bring to your own backyard, leading to a more purposeful and durable design.
Watch more of the rooftop
Nicole Kistler Studio
5. Join forces. Constructed and designed by neighborhood volunteers, Seattle’s UpGarden transformed an unused parking arrangement to a flourishing community garden. More important, it attracted a neighborhood together through teamwork and collaboration.
See more of this UpGarden
6. Make the travel fun. When you’re walking along New York City’s High Line, it’s easy to overlook that this elevated park is also an urban thoroughfare. Native plantings and distances to linger in create this over a pedestrian route; it is a memorable trip.
See more of the High Line
7. Layout for wildlife. Lisa Lee Benjamin has made it her mission to talk up and design for those birds and bugs. Through temporary backyard installations and appealing urban habitats, Benjamin asks us to invite the animals back into our gardens and cities. Stack twigs, plant pollinator attractors and simply rethink who you’re designing for.
Read more about Benjamin’s Urban Hedgerow group
Becky Bourdeau @ Potted
8. Know that beauty doesn’t have to be pricey. It took little more than pea gravel, perpendicular pocket gardens, concrete planter bowls plus a couple of concrete benches to convert this deserted lot in a open, inviting area. Rather than quickly passing, residents in Philadelphia’s Point Breeze neighborhood today can linger among plantings and enjoy their java.
Watch more of the public Philadelphia backyard
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