Simply put, urban gardening is the activity of growing plants in a city. Due to space constraints in many cities, this means that urban gardening may take on forms not necessarily seen in rural areas. If an urban resident doesn’t have room to grow plants in their backyard, they might join a community garden, hang planters off their balcony or utilize the roof of their building for growing vegetables, flowers and other plants.
By growing fruits and vegetables in an urban environment one can ensure that a part of their diet is grown locally. Locally grown food benefits the environment by reducing the transportation costs required to move it long distances. It also allows the grower to know exactly what types of fertilizers or pesticides were used during production. Growing food locally will also cut down on food bills.
Water runoff in cities is a larger problem than in rural areas. Because more surface area in cities is covered with impermeable materials such as asphalt and concrete, rainwater doesn’t have a chance to be absorbed into the ground before it runs off into storm sewers. This results in excess debris and toxins being washed into the water system. The addition of more growing areas allows water to be filtered through the soil and naturally cleaned before entering the water system.
For the same reasons that excess water runoff occurs in cities, heat build up is also a result. With large areas of cities covered by heat absorbing materials such as asphalt, concrete and roof surfacing, heat is trapped and radiated back into the environment. Natural materials such as plants do not reflect heat as readily. Plants cool the air by using heat to convert internal water into vapor via transpiration. It’s found that highly built up urban areas can have temperatures a few degrees higher than those found in rural areas. This heat buildup increases cooling costs and energy consumption.
As more city residents and officials learn about the benefits of growing more plants in urban areas, more space can be devoted to the practice. Because space efficient gardening methods such as using rooftops or creating green walls weren’t necessarily considered in the past, it meant that city dwellers had to live with the consequences of lack of urban green space. Now that more people understand the benefits of urban gardening, simple changes can result in great advantages.