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A Changing Environment: The Impact of Edible Landscaping & Urban Gardening

the impact of edible landscaping and urban gardening

The Urbane Life is making plans for the spring and will be introducing urban gardening projects and edible landscaping to our properties! It is an exciting, visually stunning way to bring the natural world to the city. If you haven’t heard about urban gardening or edible landscaping, we are going to break it all down for you!

What is Edible Landscaping?

Edible landscaping is a way to incorporate food plants (ie: fruits, herbs, vegetables) into your usual landscaping. What exactly does that look like? Instead of rows of bushes lining a path, imagine a row of lettuce, berry bushes or a mixture of herb bushes intermingled with your usual landscaping plants.

Mother Earth Living explains it simply: “Consider replacing the typical landscape with decorative borders of herbs, rainbow chard and striking paprika peppers. Instead of the fleeting color of spring azaleas, try the year-round beauty of blueberries—or pear and plum trees, which put on a spring show of flowers, have colorful summer fruits and produce yellow fall foliage. These plants aren’t just pretty—they provide healthy food and save money and resources.”

what is edible landscaping

Aside from aesthetic reasons, edible landscapes & practicing urban gardening offers many benefits:

  • Food Safety: You’re in charge of whichever (if any) chemicals are used
  • Save Money: by planting and picking from your own gardens, you’ll end up spending less on most of the produce you buy in grocery stores.
  • Save Energy: Going straight to your garden eliminates the energy used for shipping and refrigeration. Plus you’re going to be using less energy than conventional farms use to play, plant, spray and harvest produce.
  • Save Water: Studies have shown that most home gardeners use less than half of the water than large-scale agriculture production for the same crop. Plus if you use drip irrigation, you’ll save even more!
  • Better Nutrition: The produce you buy in the grocery store is often picked under-ripe, and is usually days or weeks old when you eat it. The homegrown fruits and vegetables in your garden are more fresh and packed with more vitamins and nutrients than the ones you’ll find at the grocery store.

Combining edible plants with your ornamental plants is fun and creative. Knowing what grows seasonally will help you select which edible plants to put in year round. Rosalind Creasy, an expert on edible gardening suggests: “Try a cool-season border of lettuces and spinach interplanted with dwarf nasturtiums. All types of pepper are striking when combined with dwarf marigolds or a background of tall red salvias. In shady areas, try a border of alpine strawberries and curly parsley under a hedge of currants. For your dwarf fruit trees try planting them in geometric beds surrounded with a border of culinary herbs; or plant them along the driveway instead of the usual privet or junipers.”

How does urban gardening fit into this?

Urban gardening is a sustainable way to grow crops and herbs in an urban environment. Organic Authority explains it well: “Whether via tiny backyard plots, community gardening in city parks, guerrilla gardening on vacant lots, indoor hanging gardens, rooftop growing, vertical gardens and more, urban farming is a thing now… Instead of the long-standing practice of trucking in the food to cities, city dwellers are taking matters into their own hands to produce local and sustainable food.”

The Urbane Life is excited to bring community gardens into our properties and creatively use spaces to grow crops and herbs for our residents. These community gardens and edible landscapes will be an opportunity for our residents to get their hands dirty and learn about gardening and organic practices.

what is urban gardening

Recycle and Reuse

Urban Gardening is done in areas without a lot of space which means creative solutions are required. In large cities, there are rooftop gardens, patio gardens and hanging installations using household objects. A favorite method of organic gardening we love uses shipping pallets to create a vertical garden when room is tight.  (For a detailed tutorial with step by step pictures check out Life on the Balcony.)

  • Start by finding a pallet. Go to a local store, and see if they have any pallets out back that they don’t need. You can usually get a few for free. If you don’t take them, they will just be thrown away so it better to repurpose one if you can.
  • Once you have your pallet, clean it up. Replace any loose boards or nails that may be sticking out.  You can stagger the boards if you want more space for plants that need more room to grow.
  • Once the pallet is prepped, you will want to staple landscape fabric to the back of the pallet since it will be standing upright. This will prevent soil from falling out of the back. You will also want to cover the bottom boards of the pallet with the landscape fabric.
  • Next it’s time for planting and placing the soil. Make sure the soil is dispersed evenly through each layer so the plants are firmly rooted in place. You’ll want to do this with the pallet lying flat on the ground.
  • Once all of your plants are in place, lean your pallet up against your preferred wall and water it regularly

There are other creative ways to make urban gardens such as: a hanging herb garden using recycled soda bottles. It is a smart way to reuse soda bottles that wouldn’t normally see anything else but the bottom of a trash or recycling bin. Plus it is a low cost way to create a vegetable or herb garden from home!

diy urban gardening examples

Innovative people are taking urban gardening to the next level in cities across the globe through the reinvention of old materials. There are many notable urban gardening projects around the world changing the way people think about gardening and food sources.

One local organization, Detroit Dirt, is a compost company that takes forgotten pieces of land around the city and transforms them into sustainable plots of land for farming and gardening. Why do they do it? “We can take something that would have wasted and make something good from it and no one else does it…By advocating the community garden concept, we see that we can lower transportation costs. Reduce the environmental footprint. Create business. Develop neighborhoods. Instill a long-lost pride. And most importantly, help all of Detroit learn a little more about self-sustainment.”

We love the way people are taking on modern food and sustainability challenges and finding new solutions. Our hope is to create lasting urban gardening and edible landscaping projects for our residents to use and appreciate. Stay tuned to our blog to see what we do this spring!

Edible Landscaping Images Via: 1  / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 /  7 / 8 / 9 / 10  

 Main header photo credit to: Helena Manhartsberger

 

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