Urban Gardens

By Morgan Greenseth

Creative urban gardens are far superior to any lawn. They not only help people put the freshest food possible on the table (while saving on groceries!); they also contribute to beautiful, healthy and interesting landscapes that help make dense urban living a pleasure.

Urban gardens can be as small as one pot, or as large as a whole rooftop. Around Seattle, you'll find them in alleyways, on balconies, in backyards and even along bike paths. What follows is a sampling of some of the most interesting edible gardens throughout the city:


This container-based garden by Shannon and Jason Mullett-Bowlsby in West Seattle is a great example of how to maximize the space you have. The couple converted their 20' x 30' patio into an edible garden during an "eat local" challenge. Now hanging baskets, containers, trellises and even a "potato condo" have allowed the garden to expand vertically, creative a veritable jungle of food. The garden is home to more than 30 types of plants, including cherries, tomatoes, lettuce, herbs and catnip for their cat, Hera.


Credit: Shibaguyz

With help from the Seattle Urban Farm Co, a 4-foot by 20-foot nest of weeds on the south end of this Central Distric home was transformed into an orderly vegetable garden. This sliver of land produces summer squash, bush beans, basil, eggplant, mustard greens, spinach, broccoli and salad greens.

Credit: Colin McCrate

The owner of this garden, located in the Licton Springs area of North Seattle, started off growing heirloom tomatoes because of the summer treat's high cost. Even with a rookie green thumb -- and multiple challenges due to weather, pests and bacteria -- he was able to harvest 25 pounds of tomatoes last year. The balcony garden now produces herbs, carrots, peppers, strawberries and bush beans.


Credit: Dylan W.

Some yards don't get much direct sunlight, and therefore aren't hospitable locations for a garden. One homeowner in Ballad solved this problem by building a greenhouse in its sunniest area -- the driveway. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and basil have now taken the place of cars. And the extra heat from the cement even helps sustain the garden. It's an encouraging vision for the future of driveways!

Credit: Colin McCrate

One West Seattle gardener was forced plant in his parking strip because there wasn't any sun or enough room in the front yard. In the "edible parking strip" garden, you'll find a variety of vegetables and a few fruit trees that provide 80 to 90 percent of the owner's fruits and vegetables for the whole year. Not only does this beautiful garden diffuse the unappealing view of parked cars from the house; it has also become a community meeting point for neighborhood.

Credit: West Seattle Blog

Guerrilla gardening has been occurring for a while now. In Seattle, stealth gardeners Jeff and Allison have taken the initiative to plant vegetables in unexpected places. One of their gardens sits along the Burke-Gilman trail at the north end of Lake Union. Anyone who passes is welcome to help themselves to the chard, kale, fava beans and clover that grow there.

Credit: J Martin

Credit: Riona

Rooftops are a popular spot for urban gardens, since they have great access to sunlight, and also make use of all that space on top of the building! At the University of Washington's McMahon Hall, a partnership of campus chefs and groundskeepers started this rooftop herb garden. The mix of aromatic fresh herbs, including thyme, marjoram, lavender and oregano, are used in the basement dining hall.

Credit: J Martin

Edible gardens aren't necessarily limited to fruits and vegetables. This garden in North Seattle demonstrates how a mix of plants can have beautiful results. Peppers and tomatoes are dispersed throughout the flower beds, creating a colorful and edible garden. An added bonus is that it can be viewed by everyone that passes down the street!

Credit: J Martin