In this crowded world many of us live in the city with little to no outside space of our own. I’m lucky enough to have a small back garden with a paved area and lawn, which after seven years living in a first floor flat I truly appreciate. An outside space of your own shouldn’t be taken for granted, especially in the inner city, and even though many of us rent there are still many small things we can do to make our little pieces of the outdoors truly wonderful. In our house we’ve come up with a bunch of simple ideas to make our city garden into a little haven for us and for nature. Hopefully some of our ideas can help you too 🙂
Spring is finally here! After such a long, cold winter I’m so excited for some warmer weather and longer days. I’m also super excited to get out into the garden and undo the brutality of the winter. During the cold, wet months we’ve let the garden go a bit. The weather doesn’t really lend itself to working on the outside parts, and plants don’t tend to do so well in the colder months. Our garden is wonderful, just the right size for us. Big enough to have fun in, but small enough to maintain easily. It helps that over half of it is paved, so we don’t have a lot of grass to mow (not that I really mind mowing!). Luckily, the previous tenants did a good job of the garden, leaving us to inherit a well put together outside space. If anything we’ve neglected it since we’ve been here.
Outside space is important to us. It’s nice to have somewhere private to bask in the sunlight and top up on vitamin D, to relax and chill in the fresh air after a long day. Or for socialising and entertaining friends. I personally like taking my yoga mat outside or grabbing a hula hoop for a fun and easy way to be active. Exercise I can do in my own back garden in my pyjamas is my absolute favourite. So we’ve made a little plan to transform our garden from drab winter back yard to beautiful spring solace.
The main garden area
This is what the main part of the garden looks like at the moment:
One of the first things to do is reseed the bare lawn part, but we also need to pack some fresh soil in at the base of the fence because there’s a gap that Smudge gets particularly interested in sometimes. He’s an indoor cat, so we don’t let him leave the garden. Being a huge wuss this suits him most of the time. Sometimes he does get curious though, and we know he wouldn’t survive on the outside so we gotta fill that gap in just in case.
That slatty thing is a compost bin. Pretty much all our food waste goes in there, as well as garden waste and Smudge’s cat litter (so we won’t be using the compost for growing food). Last year we trimmed all the bushes and plants all the way back at the end of summer, and ended up with a huge pile of branches and leaves, so we got a garden waste bin and a compost bin to deal with it. Since using the compost bin our general waste has been a lot less smelly and gross, which is always nice, as well as the environmental benefits of composting instead of dumping. And we got compost for our flowers now 🙂
Because we rent and the condition of the soil, flowers in pots is the best bet for us. This way we can put them wherever we want regardless where the good soil is. For most urban gardens it will be some effort to make the existing ground good for planting, especially where there’s a lot of paving. There are loads of benefits to container planting, and it’s super easy – you can find out everything you need to know on this comprehensive guide on container gardening.
I’ve done a crude sketch of what the back fence will eventually look like:
Under the window we’re going to make a container pond with a solar water feature for maximum garden zen. After much deliberation we’re going to use a metal bucket and just fill it with water and aquatic plants, maybe a solar light too because why the hell not, hey?
The front oPpf the garden
The other end of the garden needs some love too. We’ve got a gazebo so the smokers don’t have to get wet in the rain, but it will also be very appreciated by my very pale self at the height of summer. It’s a great gazebo too – it folds down pretty easily once you figure it out, but we’re lazy and it’s actually survived the storms of the winter pretty well (though the manufacturers do recommend you don’t try it, we did anyway!). Pretty impressive given how much wind and rain we’ve had, not to mention the copious snow! The little campground style setup under the gazebo is currently the hub of activity in the garden, but we’re going to relocate the main table and chairs to a more open part now the weather has calmed down a bit.
Further down we’ve got the herb garden. I say herb garden, but it’s more like an occasional litter tray for Smudge at the moment. All the herbs we tried to grow there last year died, so we’re going to use pots this year, and also not try to keep supermarket herbs alive because that just doesn’t work. We’re also going to line the walls with lavender to keep the slugs away – the slugs hate it. I hate slugs, and that door leads to my bedroom, so I’m very on board with making life as uncomfortable as possible for them.
We all cook a lot from scratch and get through a lot of herbs, so a few basic ones like basil, parsley, and mint will be super handy. Fresh herbs are way better than dried ones, they replenish themselves, save us money, and reduce packaging. Plus they look a lot nicer than a mud corner, and I’ll feel like such a put-together adult when I’m popping out to the garden to fetch some fresh herbs for my dinner.
We’ve got a lot to get on with for now, but it’s going to look great when we’re done. A few trips to the garden centre and weekends of good, wholesome hard work will sort it right out. With five of us plus two handy boyfriends I think we’ll do just fine – photos to follow of course!
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(disclaimer: this post includes affiliate links to Amazon products, which means I get a little bit of money when people buy through these links. All the Amazon links in this post are for products we have in our own garden, or similar products where the originals are not available. I only advertise products I know I like, and think my readers might like too n_n)