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DIY Gardening Tips for Urban Gardeners

Gardening | 4 MIN READ

Just because you live in the city it doesn’t mean you can’t have a gorgeous garden to enjoy. Whether you have a large outside space or a tiny patio it can still look as beautiful as you want it to.

Of course, having a stunning garden won’t happen all by itself (unless you are extremely lucky and you’ve managed to plant some kind of wild flower garden that has really taken off and needs no assistance – not a bad idea, in reality, but we’ll come to that later) which means you need to work on it. How much time and effort you put into your urban garden will depend on how much time and effort you can spare, but even a little can go a long way when it comes to creating something lovely. Here are some great DIY gardening tips for urban gardeners so you can really make the most out of whatever outside space you happen to have.

Dead Heading

Dead heading sounds fairly violent, but it’s not as bad as it might initially seem, and it can really help your garden bloom. Pritiy Vesuwala – assistant gardener at Dolphin Square – is right to say; “It is crucial to remove the dead heads of plants as regularly as possible to promote continuous flowering.” In fact, not removing dead heads can cause plants to become stunted, or even die off altogether.

The process is a simple one, and you only need a pair of clippers to do it, plus a pair of gardener gloves if you want to protect your hands (ideal for dead heading thorny plants such as roses). Snip the stem of the plant just below the dead head and remove the heads altogether (you can compost them). The plant may look unattractive for a while, but don’t worry; new buds will soon sprout.


If you’ve ever tried to grow a tall plant only to have it topple over, bend, even break completely when it reaches a certain height don’t worry; many gardeners will have had the same frustrations. Luckily, there is a simple way to prevent this problem from happening, and that is called staking.

When you insert a stake into the ground next to a tall plant or into a pot where you are growing something long and willowy – a delphinium, perhaps, or a sunflower – and then tie your plan to the stake, it won’t flop over, the stems won’t beak, and the flowers won’t get stepped on. It’s not a difficult job, and the key to getting it right is to leave enough slack in your twine so that the plants can still grow and are unrestricted, but make it tight enough so they are supported.

Plant Feed

It may seem like an unnecessary expense when you can make do with (good) soil, perhaps a little compost, sunlight, and water, but plant feed can make a big difference to the overall look of your garden and will help your plants and flowers to grow even bigger and more beautiful than they would have done without it.

There are lots of different plant feeds on the market, but according to Michael Delville, head gardener at Dolphin Square you only need to look for tomato feed. Tomato feed has everything in it that your plants are going to need to thrive including potassium, and will ensure optimum root, shoot, and plant growth all round.

Keep It Simple

No matter how big or small your urban garden might be, keeping the design nice and simple is going to be your best bet. It’s a great idea to plan your garden before you start planting (although if you have inherited a garden because you’ve moved into a property that already had one in place this might be a trickier option for you) because you’ll know exactly how much space you have and how many plants you need.

There are some useful websites that will help you do this, or even apps for your smartphone or tablet that will enable you to plan your garden simply and effectively. You can even choose exactly which plants you want and determine the best spots for them in the garden in relation to light, space, and how much looking after they’ll need.

One top tip from Dolphin Square’s assistant gardener Jessica Peace is to “place taller plants at the rear end of the plot and the lower plants further forward. This way, no plant obstructs the view of another.”

Wild Flowers

Right at the start we mentioned a wild flower garden, and now’s the time to expand on this a little. A wild flower garden does what it says on the tin; it’s a garden full of flowers that have been left to their own devices. The beauty of these wild flower gardens is that you don’t have to do a lot, so for those will only a little time but who want their outside spaces to look great, they can be ideal. You will need to thin out the flowers from time to time, and when they die off you should remove them completely, but in terms of time needed it’s certainly not as much as many other types of garden. Plus, for insects – all of this we need to look after a lot more, particularly the bees – this is an absolute haven.

Not everyone likes these gardens, of course, and you may be one of them. It’s true, wild flower gardens can look messy and unloved, but that’s just the nature of them. If you prefer order and neatness, you’ll want a garden you can control a lot more.

Window Boxes

No garden? Do you have a window? Then you’re all set – you can grow beautiful plants in a window box and you don’t need too much equipment to do it either. You’ll need the box, of course, and you can buy these already made or you can make them yourself (there are a number of tutorials online).

Then you’ll need some good soil and plant food, plus the seeds, bulbs, or plants themselves. Tall plants are not great for window boxes, especially if you are lower down the building and you run the risk of them either falling over and landing on someone below or growing too tall and blocking someone’s view above. Hanging plants always look wonderful, but again, you’ll need to keep them under control because they might hang down too low and block another view.

Keep the window boxes watered and well fed, and you’ll soon have some gorgeous plants, or even fruits and vegetables or herbs to enjoy.

Community Gardens

Of course, living in the city could mean you have no outside space at all – it’s a shame, but it’s more usual than having an urban garden to look after. But don’t despair; you can be on the lookout for community gardens instead.

Community gardens are, as the name suggests, there for the local community to enjoy but also for them to get stuck into and be a part of. So if you have some ideas of what you might like to plant, or you want to get your hands (literally) dirty in helping out the community, this is ideal.

Dalston Curve Garden is an excellent space to enjoy as it’s not just about growing pretty flowers here; there are vegetables being grown too, making it a nice sustainable outside space for the community. Even if you don’t want to do any gardening yourself, it’s a great place to sit and enjoy the outdoors for a while.

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