By Guest Writer Liz Becker

A new Birmingham, AL ordinance was recently adopted by the Birmingham City Council to boost the spread of urban gardens on unused properties throughout the city. Rooftop and urban gardens are becoming a growing trend in urban areas known for poor air quality. The city council adopted a set of guidelines for those individuals who would like to start an urban garden and sell the produce.

Urban gardens can stimulate the local economy through produce sales, but they’re most well-known for their ability to improve air quality. When a number of nearby properties feature an urban garden the plants work together on a grand scale, absorbing carbon dioxide and converting it into healthy, breathable oxygen.

Urban gardens are most beneficial on rooftops, especially when the building below expels a great deal of energy and has a high cost for heating. These gardens insulate the building, which in turn keeps it nice and toasty for the residents inside. Apartment dwellers will find they’re saving big on heating costs, when they’re setting their thermostats lower.  A big energy provider, such as one that offers Red Deer services, can work with you on insulation solutions.

Entire cities, like Birmingham, benefit from widespread urban gardens. According to Birmingham’s local Fox 6 channel, “there are approximately 30 community gardens around Birmingham. A lot of them serve as education tools to community members and they often sell their products at local markets.” Those profits are then fed back into the garden and the city’s overall health.

How to Plan Your Own Urban Garden

If you live in the greater Birmingham area, you’ll want to contact The United Way of Central Alabama, to discuss the recently enacted guidelines. If you live elsewhere, contact your local government. If you’re planning to only create a small backyard garden or a rooftop garden, chances are high you don’t need community approval.

If you already have a green thumb, you’re probably ready to start planting. If you don’t have much experience gardening, you may want to start with some simple herbs. Herbs are fast growers and require little maintenance. These resilient plants don’t have any natural pests and will thrive in small spaces and odd conditions. They’ll ensure you’re successful, even on your first planting.

Some things to keep in mind:

·  Conservation is essential for any green initiative, including urban gardens. Conserve what you already have and try to bring in little that’s new.

·  The secret to urban gardening success is raised plant beds. You want to use large, deep planters. It’s recommended to plant vegetation in four-ft. by four-ft. planting beds. You can keep as many of these as there is room for.

·  Keep it green. Many pesticides, growth promoters, and weed killers are not considered earth-friendly. The whole point of having an urban garden is to contribute to your city’s overall greenness, essentially improving air quality. Using non-green materials works against this initiative and can result in poor air quality.

Just like Birmingham, you can have a green oasis even when you’re a big city dweller. An urban garden is the perfect way to express your desire to breathe cleaner air and reside in a healthier space. Also like Birmingham, your initiative is bound to attract the attention of neighbors, inspiring them to create their own urban gardens too. The result is a warmer, cleaner city, filled with fresh air and vegetation.