Urban Gardening For Dummies
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In creating an outdoor room out of your urban garden, you should start by taking an inventory of your existing conditions and how to plan for the development of your outdoor room, including listing current and proposed uses.

Of course your analysis also identifies other important features such as the size of your garden area, solar orientation, existing utilities, site features, and topographical conditions, to name a few. The subsequent planning phase helped diagnose your desired uses, such as whether the outdoor space is used for pets, children’s activities, outdoor dining, or leisurely seating.

After you know what type of space you have and what you plan to do, how can you define these uses for the outdoor room? Draw up specific details on a plan and coordinate them to meet your budget requirements. The following list provides a few defined uses you may wish to consider for your outdoor room:

  • An Outdoor dining area. One of the most popular urban outdoor uses is dining. Much different than dining inside the home, an outdoor dining space provides a relaxing and enjoyable place for meals and is great for entertaining! A landscape of surrounding edible plants can complement this defined use.

  • The backyard kitchen. With everything including the kitchen sink! An outdoor kitchen can be a delightful addition to your urban garden, with gas grills, wood-burning stoves, countertops, and any gourmet kitchen accoutrements. Vertical gardens, trellis structures, and arbors can also complement the outdoor kitchen plan.

  • A rooftop retreat. Creating an outdoor lounge on a rooftop is quite like extending your living room outside, where you can enjoy the urban atmosphere and the sunset, and surround your seating areas with rooftop container gardens and plantings.

  • The sunny place. The outdoor room may provide you an opportunity to channel the sun’s rays for your plantings and you, too! Perhaps with a beachy theme, design your space with full-sun plantings including rosa rugosa and ornamental grasses. Oh, and don’t forget the sand!

  • The hangout. Designed with the teenager in mind, this space is defined with tables, moving chairs, and space to play board games or for reading activities. A variety of different yet complementary furnishings with a cool yet cozy approach to layout may be the way to go. For the surrounding landscape, think about using some cool-looking plants too, like ‘Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick’ to compliment this approach.

  • The fireplace gathering spot. Some urban dwellings, apartments, and condominiums do not have (or aren’t capable of adding) an interior fireplace. However an outdoor room may allow this opportunity. A beautiful stone fireplace or even a small fire pit can become the focal point to any outdoor room.

  • The grill room. The grill room garden has a sports bar approach with an efficient design. Of course the grill itself is likely the focal element to this garden, but also be sure to include a weatherproof big screen television, seating for you and several guests, and an outdoor refrigerator. How about some edible plantings surrounding the grill room such as peppers, salad greens, and climbing beans?

Don’t limit yourself. Depending on the size of your outdoor room, you may wish to combine some of the ideas discussed above, such as the backyard kitchen and the outdoor dining area. Also, even in small spaces, mixing edibles and ornamentals allows for all sorts of interesting landscape design possibilities. It all depends on how much space you have and what your interests are.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Paul Simon is a nationally recognized landscape architect, public artist, horticulturist, master gardener, and urban designer.

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, speaker, and radio and television personality.

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