Planning the Parking Space Garden: A Quick Tip

This was a picture of our back alley a few weeks ago:

Planning the Parking Space Garden: A Quick Tip urban gardening square foot gardening

It’s not a lot different today – but you won’t recognize it a few weeks from now!

To explain the photo from left to right:

  • Through the fence (to the left) is our backyard.  It’s the home to a coffee shop and seats about 30 people.  It’s heavily shaded and a tough area to grow.
  • Straight ahead is a 6-foot wide trench.  The ground is sketchy as it’s been subjected to years of runoff from the roof, parking spot and autoshop nearby.  We’ll be growing in raised bed gardens which will be raised off the ground to prevent leaching.
  • On the right is our parking space.  It’s raised about 15 inches off the ground.  We’ll also have some raised beds there as well.

Here’s a sample of a 16 square-foot raised bed we’ve built (the grid is for ‘square-foot gardening; we’ll be sharing more towards the end of April):

Planning the Parking Space Garden: A Quick Tip urban gardening square foot gardening

The raised beds can be used to grow crops over several seasons (by fall we’ll be covering it with a light structure to grow cold-weather crops such as kale).

We’re planning to grow around 60 square feet of gardens in addition to modifying our fence garden project from last year:

In addition to installing the raised beds, we’re also planning to install a large rain barrel and drip irrigation which will make watering easier and more efficient.  We’re really hoping to produce a significant harvest from the edges of our parking spot this year.

The biggest tool we’ve used (so far) is a piece of graph paper.  I can’t emphasize enough how important this has been to planning our space (this also works for planning indoor spaces).  I make copies of the original drawing and sketch different possible configurations so I can reliably plan on how we’ll make the most out of our space.

I’ve carried our plans around for a few weeks – to the nursery, the seedswap and the hardware store.  When I see something that inspires the garden I can access how it will impact our plans immediately.   It makes planning a snap!

How do you plan for the growing season?


  1. I think it’s interesting that city folk come up with much more appealing and innovative garden spaces than we do out here in rural areas. I guess our abundance of available land has made us complacent.

    • funny Jen – I actually found much of my inspiration from the Third World who have even less space and less access to water… I’ll share more when we post the series but I found their ability to grow against all odds simply inspiring! Perhaps constraints feed creativity in the garden? :)

      • You have touched a key point there. In the third world, scarcity has driven them to create and innovate to ensure food supply. I fear abundance has bred food complacency in the land of plenty. Thanks for engaging do many people about their food!

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