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July 17, 2012 | Written by: Niall Kelly

Easy Does It: Being Green in the City



Over the past century, more and more people have been moving from rural to urban areas. According to the United Nations, half the world’s population will live in cities by the end of 2012. And 40 years from now, it’s estimated that 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities.

For most people, this will mean they’ll have very little connection to nature. And that can mean losing all sorts of things, including our understanding of where our food comes from.

But it doesn’t have to be so.

Living in a metropolitan area doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the enhancing effect nature has on our lives. And fortunately, as populations shift to the cities, they’re often bringing something of the country with them.

Enjoying nature doesn’t have to be just for people on the edges of the city who have a garden. There are many ways to enjoy nature in the inner city.

Having made this transition from a rural environment to an urban one (in my case from a farm in Ireland to Brooklyn), I’ve found ways to stay green.

I am lucky to have a small backyard. And even though it’s in shade for most of the day, I’ve discovered a world of shade-loving plants that thrive there.

And I haven’t confined my greening to just my backyard. Working through the block association, I’ve requested the city to plant trees along the street. Some are quite large today and I take great pride seeing the shade, and the habitat for birds, they provide.

The pits around trees can also be little gardens. Although some municipalities don’t allow planting in tree pits, others do. And there are many shallow-rooted plants that will not interfere with the tree roots. In fact, I’ve even found that flowers around tree pits send a message to dog owners to keep their dogs out.

Community gardens are another great way to bring greenery into your area. Not only do they give city dwellers a chance to grow their own food, they’re also a way to get to know neighbors and build communities.

In the city, no spot is too small for planting. Even a window sill can be a mini garden. And a kitchen window sill is a perfect place to grow culinary herbs—giving everyone a chance to be an urban farmer.

But that’s not all, here are some other tips to help you go greeener:

  • If your building allows it, plant a roof garden
  • Volunteer at your local park or community garden
  • Request your municipality to plant street trees
  • Create a garden around a tree pit
  • Join a block association and work on greening projects
About the author
Niall Kelly
Niall Kelly is Copy Supervisor at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness. His wellness goal is to take an afternoon siesta as often as his schedule permits.



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