It's easy to grow your own food, even if your plot is limited to a small city lot. One of the best ways is with a raised bed. It's so easy that you don't even need soil to place it on; raised beds are fine on sturdy decks or paved surfaces, such as the edge of a driveway.
We worked with Loki's Garden, a landscaping company in Des Moines, to design a good-looking raised bed that's packed with fun features. The creation showed here offers two deep planter boxes that are large enough to grow tomatoes, peppers, or potatoes -- or even larger crops such as blueberries. A decorative arbor visually connects the two beds and gives vines, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, or squash, a place to climb.
Use a rain garden to manage runoff in your urban space. Find out how here.
Holes drilled into the sides provide even more space for growing low, spreading plants such as strawberries, thyme, or spring greens. A hinged bench is another space-saver: It offers a place to sit and tend your vegetables (or relax and enjoy the fresh fruits of your labors) while also conveniently storing tools and gardening supplies.
You'll get the most produce from your raised beds if you site them in a spot that sees full sun (at least six hours of direct sunlight a day) and has good airflow, which helps plants resist disease. Fill the raised bed with a high-quality potting mix rather than digging soil from your garden (which may contain weed seeds or pest and disease organisms).
Raising your own chickens is a hot gardening trend -- it's easier than you might think and fun, too! The coop here looks attractive enough to fit in any yard and provides all the features you need for success with three or four chickens (which should give you about two eggs per day). Plus, the birds will provide a source of manure to add to your compost -- which will eventually help yield more in your garden!
Note: If you live in town, check local restrictions about having chickens.
Fenced with chicken wire at the base, this backyard chicken coop keeps your feathered friends safe from predators and gives the chickens room to move about. A hinged nesting box makes harvesting your own eggs a cinch, too. Change the bedding in the nesting box regularly to encourage your chickens to keep laying lots of eggs.