urban gardening – ideas for our city garden this spring

urban gardening – ideas for our city garden this spring

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 🙂 

the spicy bean - ideas for our city garden - www.itsthespicybean.com

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:

the spicy bean - plans for the garden 2018 - www.itsthespicybean.com
The bare bit of grass is super ugly, and the trash under the ledge is unsightly. Plus the shed roof leaks, so that needs replacing. Everything in there is really damp and mouldy so that needs dealing with when the weather warms up. 

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 🙂 

Related:  five fun outdoor exercises almost anyone can do
the spicy bean - plans for the garden 2018 - www.itsthespicybean.com After dealing with the lawn we’re going to get some pots of varying sizes to go next to the compost bin and fill them with pretty flowers, as well as moving the bird bath to be part of that display. We already have some bird friends that visit the garden every day to nom from the bird feeder and rile Smudge up good and proper. He likes to sit on the windowsill and make funny noises at them. Despite the presence of Smudge, we try to make the garden a bit of a hub for wildlife. Being in the city it’s important to provide for our wild neighbours. Simple things like bird seed, perches, bird baths can really help out the local birds. 

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:

the spicy bean - plans for the garden 2018 - www.itsthespicybean.com
 For the area near the shed we’re going to plant some climbing roses in the old chiminea, which we’ll train to grow up the side of the shed. The chiminea is so rusty the bottom would probably fall out if we put a fire in it now, but it will still make a pretty good plant pot. Next to that on the ledge we will plant wild flowers in pots to attract good bees. We’ve already got a house for solitary bees, which we’ll move here and encourage them to move in. Again, we try to do our bit for the wildlife and every summer we’re reminded how important bees are to our ecosystem, and warned of their decline. Obviously we’ll get rid of all the trash that’s under the ledge and probably store the bbq there instead.

 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 spicy bean - plans for the garden 2018 - ww.itsthespicybean.com  

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.  

Related:  April - goals and to do list for this month

 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. 

the spicy bean - plans for the garden 2018 - www.itsthespicybean.com
Further along we used to have a really pretty climbing plant which I think was a Clematis. Unfortunately it was a victim of some quite aggressive gardening last year and never recovered. He is merely a stump now. Unlike the rose bushes (which we were worried we’d killed) this one never started growing back. It was also adorned with fairy lights before its demise, which were snipped through in the Great Gardening Catastrophe of 2017.  It was so pretty we’re planning to replace it, and if last year is anything to go by it will grow VERY quickly and bloom all over our wall again. 

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)


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