Gardening in the city can seem like a challenge, but it’s an incredibly rewarding one that can turn your urban space into a green oasis. As a city girl myself, I’ve discovered that you don’t need sprawling acres to cultivate a thriving garden; a little creativity and the right approach can bring the serene joy of gardening to even the smallest of spaces. Whether it’s a balcony, rooftop, patio, a small yard, or a little porch, you can still reap the benefits that come from every garden and every garden harvest. One of the best reasons to have a garden in the city is the personal well-being benefits it will bring to you. 

The impact of a city garden extends beyond mere aesthetics and environmental benefits—it can also significantly boost your mental and physical health. Engaging with nature, even on a small scale, has been shown to reduce stress, enhance mood, and promote mental well-being. Physically, the act of gardening itself is a great form of exercise that can improve endurance, flexibility, and strength. Moreover, spending time in a green environment can help reduce blood pressure, encourage relaxation, and foster a sense of peace.

Here are a few things to consider to help get you started on your first city garden.

Understand Your Space

First things first: assess the space available to you. Are you working with a balcony, a rooftop, or a patio? The amount of light you have will dictate what you can grow. Most edible plants require about six hours of sunlight daily, so observe how sunlight plays across your space throughout the day. This will help you decide what to plant and where.

Think Vertically

When horizontal space is limited, think vertically! Vertical gardening is a fantastic way to maximize small spaces. Utilize wall-mounted planters, hanging baskets, or little tables to double the amount of space you have. 

Think Comfort

Create a space that is inviting to you, whatever the size of the space might be. This time of year, we look forward to all things brighter, lighter, and airier. Create a space where you can relax with a cup of coffee in the morning and in the evening with your beverage of choice. Make it a destination where you want to linger a little while longer. 

Consider the Container

Container gardening is your best friend in a city setting. Almost anything can be grown in a container (we are partial to Grow Bags) as long as it has proper drainage. Tomatoes, peppers, and even root vegetables like carrots and radishes can be very successful. Grow Bags are easy to move around, provide a great environment for healthy roots, and can be used season after season. They can also be moved inside if inclement weather is coming your way or you want to use your garden as part of your entertaining décor.

Choose the Right Plants

Go for your seasonal favorites. Herbs and leafy greens are perfect for beginners and can thrive in small spaces. Plants like basil, parsley, cilantro, and mint require relatively little space and can be grown in small containers. Similarly, lettuce, spinach, and kale are excellent choices for quick harvests, making them rewarding for first-time gardeners. If tomatoes are your favorite or you are partial to peppers they grow well in containers as long as your space gets at least 6 hours of sun every day.

Sun Exposure For Your City Garden

Growing edible plants in partial shade can be a rewarding endeavor, especially when space is limited to areas that don’t receive full sunlight. Here’s a list of some of the best edible plants that thrive in partial shade, ideal for patios or gardens with limited sun exposure:

Leafy Greens

  • Spinach: Thrives in cooler temperatures and can grow well with only a few hours of sunlight per day.
  • Lettuce: Requires minimal sunlight, making it perfect for shady spots. Varieties like romaine, arugula, and butterhead are particularly adaptable.
  • Swiss Chard: Colorful and nutritious, chard can grow in partial shade and still produce robust leaves.
  • Kale: This hardy vegetable can develop well in partial shade, though it may produce smaller leaves than in full sun.


  • Parsley: This versatile herb prefers cooler temperatures and can flourish with only moderate sunlight.
  • Cilantro: Ideal for cooler climates and can tolerate partial shade, which may help prolong its growing season by reducing bolting.
  • Chives: Very adaptable and can grow well in both sun and shade.
  • Mint: Extremely hardy and can spread even in low-light conditions, making it ideal for a shaded garden.

Root Vegetables

  • Carrots: They can tolerate partial shade, though they might grow slower and be smaller than those grown in full sun.
  • Beets: The roots develop well in partial shade, although the leaf growth might be less vigorous.
  • Radishes: Fast-growing and capable of producing a crop even with limited sunlight.

Fruiting Plants

  • Strawberries: While they ideally prefer full sun, certain varieties can produce fruit even in partial shade.
  • Rhubarb: A perennial that is often used in desserts; it can tolerate some shade, though it affects the yield.

Patio plants that thrive in 6 or more hours of direct sun:


  • Basil: A favorite among chefs and gardeners alike, basil requires 6 to 8 hours of sun daily to develop its full flavor.
  • Rosemary: This herb loves hot, sunny spots and has the added benefit of being drought-resistant once established.
  • Thyme: Perfect for a sunny spot, thyme is a versatile herb used in numerous culinary dishes.
  • Oregano: Another Mediterranean herb, oregano thrives in full sun and is ideal for a sunny patio.


  • Tomatoes: They need plenty of sunlight to produce a healthy crop and are perfect for a sunny patio.
  • Peppers: Both sweet and hot varieties do well in full sun, making them ideal for sunny patio gardens.
  • Eggplants: These thrive in warm conditions and require full sun to grow robustly.
  • Cucumbers: Suitable for trellising on patios, cucumbers need full sun and warm temperatures to flourish.

Fruiting Plants

  • Strawberries: While they can manage partial shade, strawberries yield more fruit when grown in full sun.
  • Blueberries: These require acidic soil and thrive in sunny conditions, making them great for containers on sunny patios.

Tips & Benefits Of Your City Garden

Soil Matters

In container gardening, choosing the right soil is crucial. Look for high-quality soil that aligns with the nutritional needs of the plants you will be growing. We also recommend a soil amendment, when you keep your soil healthy and thriving your plants will produce throughout the season.  

Water Wisely

Over-watering is a common mistake. Plants in containers dry out faster than those in the ground but also can drown if watered too much. Check the soil moisture by sticking your finger about an inch down. If it’s dry, it’s time to water; if it’s damp, wait another day.

Nurturing Your Garden

Keep an eye on your plants. Remove any dead or dying leaves to keep your plants healthy and prevent disease. Additionally, regular trimming and harvesting will encourage growth and yield.

Aesthetic Enhancement

One of the primary benefits of having a patio garden in a city setting is the immediate improvement it brings to the aesthetic appeal of your home. Plants add color, texture, and vibrancy, transforming a bland patio into a lively and inviting space. You can customize your garden with various plant arrangements, decorative pots, and even thematic accessories to reflect your personal style. This not only makes your home more visually appealing but also creates a welcoming atmosphere for both residents and visitors.

Environmental Benefits

City gardens also play a crucial role in enhancing urban environmental health. Plants are natural air purifiers; they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, improving the air quality around your home. Additionally, green spaces help mitigate the urban heat island effect, a common problem in cities where buildings and paved surfaces absorb and re-emit the sun’s heat more than natural landscapes. Through the process of transpiration, plants release moisture into the air, which can help cool down their surroundings, making your patio and home feel more comfortable during hot weather.

Economic Advantages

From an economic perspective, a patio garden can increase the value of your property. Homes with well-maintained garden spaces often attract higher market values and interest from potential buyers. Additionally, if you grow herbs, vegetables, or fruits, you can cut down on grocery bills. This aspect of patio gardens is not only economically beneficial but also promotes a sustainable lifestyle, allowing you to consume home-grown, organic produce.

Social and Recreational Benefits

Socially, a patio garden creates a perfect backdrop for gatherings, parties, or quiet social interactions with friends and family. It offers a natural setting that can make social events more enjoyable and relaxing. For individuals, it provides a recreational outlet where they can engage in gardening as a hobby, which can be incredibly fulfilling and therapeutic.

Embrace the Learning Curve

Every plant tells a story, and not all stories are about unqualified success. Some of your plants might thrive while others struggle. Gardening is a journey of learning. Take notes on what works and what doesn’t, and don’t be discouraged by setbacks.

Gardening in the city brings an abundance of gifts and opportunities for you to be nurtured by nature. The joy of harvesting your own food, the tranquility of tending to your plants, and the satisfaction of making the most out of limited spaces are incomparable. Gardening isn’t just about growing plants; it’s about growing connections—to your food, to nature, and to the community around you. With these tips, hopefully, you feel ready to start your city gardening adventure. Happy gardening!


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