Urban Living Ideas

Urban Living Ideas: how to green your living spaces

The lives we lead in urban environments tend to confine us to brick and mortar, modern and minimalist decor and clutter-free living.

This is the ideal many strive for, but in the current polluted world we live in, it’s only good for the soul to include green living things in our home spaces!

They not only elevate our moods but bring in a touch of harmony, balance and colour to otherwise cold spaces. Plants really do lift and bring life, wherever they take root

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Indoor Spaces

Indoor plants not only improve the aesthetic of a space, but improve air quality dramatically. Soil and roots of plants store carbon, and are essential carbon sinks for the toxic gasses that our industry-centric lives cause on a daily basis. Trees in particular are good at what is termed Sequestration, which is the phenomenon of taking carbon dioxide from the air around us, and creating storage within roots and branches. Carbon is stored in these roots and branches, and within the soil surrounding the roots too.

Indoor trees such as Rubber trees, Ficus Benjamin, Ficus lorataFiddle Leaf Fig‘ and Dracaena varieties are excellent choices, but there are a myriad to choose from.

Click |HERE| to read about the amazing benefits of indoor plants.

Think outside of the box…

Greening your spaces should not be considered in only an indoor context – much of our living space extends outdoors and this is important to consider.

Outdoor urban spaces are being ‘Greened’ globally; entire Skyrise buildings with overflowing balcony plants on every level – high-rise buildings incorporating green rooftops. This is more than a trend. There is an awakening to the reality that we need green plants in our environments.

They calm us down, they add a sense of serenity to any space, and planted en masse, trees have been proven to bring the temperature of an urban space down. On average, it is 1°C cooler in temperature both during the day and night, in urban outdoor areas that are planted with canopies of trees. This cool temperature has a knock-on affect on surrounding areas.

How amazing is nature?

A personal choice…

Whether you decide to take it upon yourself to green a kitchen, a bathroom, your entire home, or your patio- you can’t go wrong. There are so many choices and ideas to savour, and to implement. Our Urban spaces can be embraced and turned into welcoming, fresh havens, with little effort.

Greening your indoor spaces:

Lets start with the Kitchen…

It’s the simplest thing to liven up a kitchen windowsill with potted herbs in narrow pots. Or plant up bulkier herbs and shade-loving veg (spinach, lettuces) in bigger pots and put them on a table that gets plenty of light, near a window.

The biggest trend is a move towards mini greenhouses, with sun-loving herbs being potted in self-watering pots, and placed in a sunny spot. Mint is a true winner and will grow without fuss – parsley is an abundant easy grower and is a sure candidate to liven up most meals, salads and sandwiches in a flash.

Experiment with nasturtium, rosemary, thyme, various basils, oreganum and other herbs, in various places in the kitchen, until you find what works for you. A balcony kitchen garden is not complete without an abundance of cooking herbs and edible salad leaves, and lends a green feeling to the kitchen.

Indoor plants such as Monstera deliciosa and small ficus trees are excellent additions to dining room tables, shelves and most surfaces, to add colour and life to the table.

The Bathroom deserves some attention too…

Take the bathroom to the next level with a variety of ferns, bromeliads and prayer plants to liven up this humid space. There is no better way to modernise and brighten a bathroom than by adding plenty of Pothos, Philodendron, Rubber trees and ferns.

Stay tuned for an exciting bathroom makeover we are collaborating on – simple changes can make a huge difference!

Perch hanging plants in cute pots on floating shelves, suspend plants from colourful macrame or hanging baskets on shower rails, or stick with a neutral palette and incorporate baskets into the scheme with pops of living green throughout to create your living bathroom.

Gorgeous succulents:

Succulents, especially the rosette forming varieties, make excellent displays and can be crafted into living centre-pieces and thriving wall art. There are countless tutorials online on how to make succulent wreaths. And the best thing about succulents is, given the correct care indoors, they are the gift that keeps giving- they endlessly make new plantlets and offsets which can be plucked and replanted into new soil or growing medium.

Some easily attainable ideas involve scattering pots of succulents around your chosen space- they make fabulous decorative items in amongst book shelves, super cute paper-weights, an ideal potted plant in an entrance, or as an office plant – the ideas are endless but take note of the fact that etiolation occurs when Echeverias don’t get enough light, which can cause unsightly lengthening of stems, and heightening of compact rosettes into tall, loosely packed rosettes.

Be crafty and creative, and you can insert greenery into almost any space using succulents!

Places to sleep and walk..

The bedroom becomes alive when shelves are filled with vining plants, Delicious Monsters live on nightstands (not under the bed), and air purifying Sansevieria stake their claim to cabinet tops. Remember that many plants are beneficial to the air we breathe in at night, contrary to popular belief. Discover what works in the space available to you, and you will find that you soon want to cover every surface with a plant!

Staircases and walkways needn’t remain unplanted. Pot up some low-light plants and let the greenery add to the ambience of those much-travelled pathways.

Stepping Outdoors

Embrace your patio space

An Urban patio space becomes an urban jungle with plentiful pots and gorgeous growing greens. Whether you opt for loads of planted up veg, or a delightful array of seasonal annuals, perennial shrubs or potted fruit trees, the options are really endless. Forge a mini Potager garden (French for kitchen garden) by scattering planter boxes and filling them with seasonal produce, flowers and herbs.

Alternatively, a hanging wonderland of suspended vining plants creates depth and interest, and will up your trendiness-score amongst plant-friends in a big way!

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Balconies beckon for basil, blue senecio and bay…

Planting up a few balcony planters with herbs and seasonal veggies is the easiest way to introduce greenery. A trend in drier climates is to plant these up with water-wise plants, succulents, and other hardy plants to get the ‘Green Feel’ without the need for watering a lot. Trailing Senecio varieties are especially good for balcony pots.

For sunny areas we recommend thyme, seasonal basils, staked cherry tomatoes which can be kept trimmed and to size, fennel, oreganum, dill, marjoram, chives, and flat and curly parsleys. Keep in mind that perennials will outperform and outlast seasonal plants, so opt for sage, rosemary, and thyme (like the song) – and they will reward simple maintenance with long-lived abundance.

Rooftops adore living things too:

Plenty of urban spaces these days have roof space where entire gardens can take shape. In our modern times we have gone to great lengths to create an environment for plants, where is has not existed before. In so doing, we now find entire books and websites dedicated to the Greening of rooftops!

We love this cultural break from the norm, and we have some of our own ideas to create a magnificently green rooftop:

Vegetable gardens growing wild:

With plenty of sunshine and a solid flat space to work with, many have taken to rooftop vegetable gardens to build a sustainable food source on essentially free space. Load up some planter boxes, barrels and other recycled or found vessels, fill them with soil (or plant directly into the compost bags) and you have the foundation for an amazing vegetable garden. Alternatively get some beautiful pots (we have a stunning selection in-store)

Trees climbing tall:

Another option is to plant trees on the rooftop of your apartment highrise. Architectural permissions may need to be obtained, as the amount of soil needed will create a great weight, but the resulting look is serene. It also attracts birds to the trees, which in turn becomes their home.

A grassy scene:

Wild grasses and other sun loving perennials can form the foundation of a living carpet on any rooftop. This too is a popular trend in gardening, especially in urban spaces where there is no other space for a garden.

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Moving away from the house…

An urban trend which is on the rise, is the standalone outdoor living room. The free-standing structure is actually removed from the house, and is set in the middle of the garden, or at the far end. A ‘curtain of planting‘ can be established between the home and this modern ‘gazebo’ of sorts, integrating plants and greenery into a brick and mortar construction.

Stackable planting units are handy for this type of garden wall (pictured below in our 2019 Lifestyle Garden Design Show). Alternatively with an actual wall structure, greenery can be incorporated by using wall mounted planters. They are so diverse in colour and design and really can be quite beautiful if used as a group, for a fresh look.

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Email us at marketing@lifestyle.co.za if you would like us to feature your non-traditional garden as a Guest Gardener, and check out our previous Guest Gardeners |HERE| and our other Urban Greenies blogs |HERE|

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