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What is Urban Horticulture?

H. Bliss
Updated May 16, 2024
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Urban horticulture refers to the practice of cultivating plants in the city. Types of urban horticulture can include shared urban farms, home farms, and vertical farms. Residents can benefit from urban horticulture because growing plants in a city create a source of food, flowers, and other plant resources that don't have to be shipped from far-away farms. Urban horticulture can be grown indoors or outdoors, using soil, hydroponics, or aeroponic systems to care for the plants.

Used by amateur gardeners as well as professional horticulturists, urban farms are places within a city set aside for growing plants for use in the local community. Urban farms can be small patches of land set in an apartment complex, or they can be shared community gardens that span multiple acres. These gardens are generally shared-use spaces, and can be available for free or for a fee, depending on the policies of the organization controlling the land.

Plants grown within an urban garden include food plants like fruits, vegetables, and herbs, as well as medicinal plants and decorative floral plants. Sometimes, the crops grown in an urban garden can be sold at the local market. In some urban gardens, growers are expected to use or give away what they grow there and are not permitted to sell the yield from the garden.

Most urban horticulture endeavors come in the form of soil-borne plants grown in pots in sunny windows, on porches, and sometimes in greenhouses. Though urban horticulture can produce a healthy yield of fresh food for nearly free, gardeners must invest some time getting to know the details of urban gardening. Gardeners growing in urban areas can face problems like water costs or a lack of sun that can make urban horticulture difficult or expensive.

Hydroponic gardening is a means of urban horticulture that is growing in popularity. This method is soil-less gardening, since hydroponic plants are grown in an aqueous, or water-based, solution. Hydroponics are somewhat related to aeroponics, a system in which moisture and nutrients are sprayed on the roots of the plant to keep it healthy. Hydroponics and aeroponics can be more difficult and expensive than growing plants in dirt, but can reduce the risk of diseases that thrive in soil environments.

Vertical gardens are indoor or outdoor gardens designed to grow upwards on a structure. Many people have seen vertical gardens in the form of crawling ivy on the wall, but a new trend in vertical gardens involve growing food vertically or diagonally on the walls of buildings within a city. Often, plants are secured using a trellis, but some are able to crawl up the wall using the cracks within the structure of the wall. Vertical garden-friendly plants in urban gardening include peas, tomatoes, and vine-growing plants like squashes. This type of gardening can be useful when dealing with limited growing space.

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H. Bliss
By H. Bliss , Former Writer
Heather Bliss, a passionate writer with a background in communication, brings her love for connecting with others to her work. With a relevant degree, she crafts compelling content that informs and inspires, showcasing her unique perspective and her commitment to making a difference.

Discussion Comments

By Fa5t3r — On Jun 27, 2014

@browncoat - The problem with urban forestry is that it is even more intensive than gardening, particularly if you're talking about fruiting trees. They end up shedding an awful lot of waste material which needs to be cleaned up by someone if the public is going to be involved. And there has to be some kind of regulation on who gets what kind of fruit from them, or you end up with people getting in as early as possible and taking it all.

By browncoat — On Jun 27, 2014

@croydon - I know that it's quite a popular idea in some cities, where they have a big garden area and people are able to apply for plots where they can grow their own little garden of whatever they like. Sometimes it's attached to a particular apartment building and sometimes it's just for a particular suburb.

I've also heard of restaurants where they try to grow their own vegetables and herbs and things so that they can truly deliver them fresh to the table and guarantee that they will be organic.

I've always loved the idea of having more urban food forests set up, where people can go and get fruit and nuts and things whenever they want (and whenever they are in season).

Aside from the fact that it would help people to eat better, it would also help to teach urban children where food comes from in the first place. That seems to be a rather large gap in many of their educations.

By croydon — On Jun 26, 2014

One of my friends works on an urban farm in California and he's very happy there. I wouldn't have thought that urban horticulture would work very well, but apparently it's got quite a lot of support.

I don't understand all the ins and outs of how his particular initiative works, but as far as I know they get the public to come in and help out on the farm in return for vegetables and fruits and they try to involve the community in things like collecting organic waste for compost.

H. Bliss

H. Bliss

Former Writer

Heather Bliss, a passionate writer with a background in communication, brings her love for connecting with others to her...
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