Complement city life with these chic outdoor spaces.
Surrounded by an urban jungle? Then carve out a city garden and create a patch of paradise wherever you live. Today you can grow on rooftops, walls, and empty lots. If you have a windowsill, terrace, balcony, or vertical space, plant something lovely, beautiful and edible—even just for a season. Summer is coming, so dig in and make the most of prime urban gardening time. Need inspiration? Imagine classic European charm, a tranquil sense of Zen, or a California state of mind.
European dwellers nurture urban flora via space-saving techniques such as rooftop gardens and pretty potagers—planting herbs, vegetables and dwarf fruit trees in close proximity. Think vertical and grow food- and flower-bearing vines on classic wrought iron trellises, pergolas or vintage garden gates repurposed and hung along an exterior wall. When it comes to plants, classic trimmed shrubs and ornate topiary, ornamental citrus and kitchen herbs combine perfectly. Terra cotta pots and planters, cast concrete urns and finials, hammered metal and stone water features make intriguing urban accents and provide focal points. To complete a classic look select antique-styled iron bistro furniture.
An urban sanctuary is highly achievable if you take a tasteful Zen approach to your exterior living space. Here, tranquility is inspired by nature with spatial arrangements to enhance integration of body, mind and spirit. An expanse of open space framed simply by wooden slat decking with recessed places for bamboo clusters or a Japanese maple sets the overall look and feel. From there, rustic stone lanterns, moss covered accents, rustling grasses and water features, plus classic Asian statues solidify the tranquil mood. A balcony Zen garden can also be lovely on a micro scale, simply by adding a low container with carefully arranged sand and stones.
Even if outdoor space is at a premium, strive for a laid-back ambience, reminiscent of a warm California garden party. Here the mood is sexy, relaxed and inviting. Set the glow with an outdoor fireplace, ample hanging lanterns and subtle solar lighting. Choose plants for low maintenance and high impact attributes—such as drought tolerant grasses and chic and easy succulents, with hardscaping accents such as river rock, crushed recycled glass and organic mulches. Or opt for Palm Springs glamour, with painted adobe, sandstone and marble hardscaping. Include high-quality, low-profile upholstered outdoor lounge seating in earthy tones and textures.
Here’s a hotlist of urban ways to garden:
- Go wild in the city. On a terrace, plant native wildflowers in pots to attract butterflies, pollinators and beneficial insects. On a rooftop, install a beehive, then harvest honey.
- Craft a cocktail garden. Hand-crafted herbal cocktails are sexy, delicious and hip. Shake things up by growing your own mints, citrus and garnishes in a window box or on a balcony.
- Grow up. Short on ground space? Grow vegetables, vines and espalier fruit trees against a wall or attached to a trellis. Suspend pre-planted garden pockets and vertical trays.
- Vintage vegetables. Grow vegetables and flowers you won’t find at the produce store. Look for heirloom seeds such as hot pink Swiss chard, Brandywine tomatoes and Parisian baby lettuce.
- Light your fire. Create an urban fireplace as focal point, install a traditional wood-fired pizza oven, or design an outdoor gas-fired kitchen with bar for entertaining.
par Christina Symons