Home Garden Design – 3 Considerations
Home gardeners and landscapers in the UK may often get confused when it comes to choosing the plants and species they want to grow in their landscape. Home grown gardeners and landscapers often follow local climate and weather patterns as well as local plant species, however this is not always the best approach for growing edible plants. There are a number of differences between what edible plants can do for your garden and what is actually native to your local environment.
The first thing to understand is that there is no one definition of “local” or “naturally” grown; rather the two terms describe very different things. Plant species that grow well in one place are not necessarily going to be planted in your garden; instead you must identify what is actually native to the area and is suitable for growing there. For instance, forest gardening is an agroforestry method of plant development, using traditional woodland vegetation, such as maples, oaks, ash and birch to provide edible foliage and fruit. This is very different from most commercial vegetable growers who use highly mechanised systems and chemicals to ensure their produce is highly perishable. Forest gardening relies on growing healthy stands of plants in a natural state, without too much cultivation or other form of unnatural intervention. The aim of the event is to provide better household food supplies through a sustainable food production system.
In the second part of this two part article series we will look at urban gardens. Growing vegetables in a city or town garden is very different to traditional urban gardens; the first key difference being the lack of space. Urban gardens rely on space more than traditional urban gardens and many urban gardens are under a bushy tree, so there is little room for the likes of the potato cress and chicory. Also urban gardens don’t have soil that absorbs too much water, so they rely on rain to help with irrigation.
One challenge urban gardens face is water retention. Where in a rural garden water is retained and runs off into the downspouts or towards a downpipe the drainage is usually not an issue with an urban garden; however it can be an issue in a building with an internal sewer system. This can lead to standing water in the garden, especially if there are terraces where rainwater runs off. This is an issue in urban gardens, where rainwater run off easily into catchment areas, causing serious water retention problems.
The third topic we are going to look at is designing a garden to meet specific needs. If you are growing a vegetable garden in a city where you have limited access to running water or at least have very poor water availability, then one of your issues is how to keep the plants getting the water they need. This is particularly true of areas around the base of trees. The solution in such areas might be to dig a trench around the base of the tree and place a large container to catch the runoff. On the other hand, if you have relatively good water availability, then perhaps designing a garden that includes features such as rockery or trellis work, or using a greenhouse will provide ample growing conditions for your vegetables. Designing a garden with good growing conditions in mind can ensure that it is easy for your plants to get the water they need.
Finally let us look at issues of space. Space restriction is particularly important in urban gardens, where square footage goes a long way. In a city where retail is king, where land is at a premium, space becomes an even more important factor. If you do intend to grow anything of size, then you will want to make sure you include enough room. Incorporating features such as a trellis system can help to maximise your garden’s potential.