A well-de­signed ur­ban garden al­lows city dwellers to en­joy the best of both worlds

Condé Nast House & Garden - - CONTENTS -

Franch­esca Wat­son on how to utilise your ur­ban out­door space best

To live in the city and have a green patch is to have your cake and eat it. on the one hand there’s the energy of the city, on the other the oa­sis-like calm of a garden with the added bonus of end­less op­por­tu­ni­ties for cre­ative prob­lem-solv­ing and try­ing un­usual plant com­bi­na­tions. Two main con­sid­er­a­tions de­ter­mine an ur­ban garden’s de­sign: a lack of space and pri­vacy, and tricky con­di­tions.

Or­gan­ise your space Whether it’s a food garden with a ta­ble for six or a trop­i­cal oa­sis with an out­door shower and ham­mock, ev­ery mil­lime­tre counts. This re­quires pre­ci­sion plan­ning. Plants may have to be re­stricted to the outer edges or you may have to use over­head space-sav­ing de­vices.

the ba­sics pri­vacy is usu­ally a prob­lem. hedges and planted screens are of­ten the way to go to block the view from the side­walk. Per­go­las and strate­gi­cally placed trees, in large pots if nec­es­sary, will block the view from above. sur­fac­ing a small hor­i­zon­tal space is best kept sim­ple and prac­ti­cal, as a lawn may be out of the ques­tion due to too much shade or mat­ters of main­te­nance. The best solution is usu­ally a deck, tiles, paving or as­tro­turf. roof gar­dens re­quire deep enough soil so that plants can de­velop. Trees need at least 800 mil­lime­tres of soil and smaller plants 300 mil­lime­tres for their roots. Then there’s drainage: seep­age and run-off wa­ter needs some­where to go, oth­er­wise it will cre­ate prob­lems. a few large pots are eas­ier to care for than lots of small ones.

unique con­sid­er­a­tions be­ing in a city presents a whole new set of gar­den­ing chal­lenges. There are dirt and pol­lu­tion, wind that bar­rels down streets, ex­treme shade or glar­ing sun made worse by heat or light re­flected by sur­round­ing build­ings, and ex­treme tem­per­a­tures. un­der­stand­ing the spe­cific con­di­tions in your garden is es­sen­tial when se­lect­ing plants. If they are to be planted around the edge of the garden, choose plants that are able to grow right up against a wall or in a nar­row bed and still de­velop prop­erly. If you are plan­ning a con­tainer garden, you will need plants that don’t re­quire very deep soil to flour­ish and can grow in pots.

choose bul­let­proof plants Podocar­pus fal­ca­tus (yel­low­wood) can with­stand a fair de­gree of wind, sun and some shade, and is suit­able for a tall hedge.

Rhoicis­sus dig­i­tata (ba­boon or dune grape) is a hardy, wind-re­sis­tant ever­green creeper suit­able for per­go­las and screens.

Agave at­ten­u­ata (lion’s tail or swan’s neck agave) is a very use­ful ar­chi­tec­tural suc­cu­lent that can with­stand quite a bit of shade as well as full sun and wind.

In­dige­nous grasses can all han­dle wind but most need good sun too to thrive. The ex­cep­tion is Chloro­phy­tum saun­der­sii (weep­ing an­ther­icum), which does not mind a few hours of shade a day.

In­dige­nous suc­cu­lents usu­ally are good choices. There is a huge range of in­dige­nous ones, from larger ram­bling ones like the blue-grey Senecio fi­coides to smaller ground-hug­ging vy­gies like Delosperma cooperi. franch­esca Wat­son 082 808 1287


Ar­rang­ing plants in a sooth­ing green and white pal­ette around the perime­ter of a small garden opens up space to re­lax

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