Sustainability in urban gardening

Rebecca Elliott / 03 August 2016

Even the smallest inner-city space can be turned into a garden for growing vegetables, relaxation or helping wildlife.

City gardens and municipal planting needn’t be boring, and across the globe we’re seeing an increasing trend in city gardening for a greener and more sustainable future. Community-led planting programmes, as seen in the UK by the Transition Town Movement, started in Totnes, Devon, see urban spaces such as train stations and disused land turned into urban farms and community spaces.

This summer’s pop-up garden exhibition in Gothenburg, Sweden, sees the city’s busiest shopping street lined with urban gardens demonstrating how easily even the smallest space can be used to improve the environment, a matter that’s important to eco-conscious Sweden. Out of all the EU countries it tops the list of organic food consumption, bottle and can recycling and green energy usage. It is also a pioneer in human-heated buildings - buildings that are heated by humans and their appliances.

Find out what to see and do in Gothenburg

Their eco-conscious lifestyle and Gothenburg’s fantastic parkland are the focus of the Gothenburg Green World experience. Throughout 2016 the city and surrounding area are full of beautiful and sustainable land art sculptures and inventive pop-up gardens.

In the shopping district of Avenyn 17 miniature urban gardens line the streets, each with its own message about how gardening can help people live in a more sustainable and less damaging way. Themes included pollination, edible gardens, flood management, conservation and community space.

Highlights include Stormwater Management, a garden designed to conserve water. While most urban areas are tarmaced over, meaning water drains away and out into rivers which struggle to cope during very wet weather, this inventive little garden saw footpaths made of metal set into the grass - hardwearing but fully allowing the water to seep underground and into the water table.

Another inventive use of rain is seen in Sustainable Delight, the self-watering garden, which features a drainpipe from the roof feeding straight into the ground to water the raised bed instead of being drained away.

Find out how your garden can help prevent flooding

Bee Connected sees eye-catching hexagonal containers filled with bee-friendly plants as part of an urban beekeeper’s initiative, while Freebooter Garden shows that even the poorest soil can be used to grow wildlife-friendly plants.

Food features heavily in many of the gardens - some are ornamental as well as edible, with seating to allow for sitting and enjoying the surroundings, others are cheap and practical, such as the stepped garden made entirely out of old pallets with food growing out of every surface, even the walls.

All were beautiful, creative and inspiring and showed just what you can do in an urban environment to bring a little bit of greenery into the grey.

Get some ideas for small garden design

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