Living in a city can put a real damper on gardening dreams. No matter how skilled a gardener you are, you can’t make land appear where there isn’t any. If you get creative, though, you can get pretty darn close. There’s one excellent growing location that’s usually native only to cities: fire escapes. Keep reading to learn some fire escape garden tips and fire escape garden ideas.
Gardening on a Fire Escape
There’s one big question that needs to be addressed first: Is fire escape gardening legal? That really depends upon your city, though the answer may very well be no. Many gardeners who show off their fire escape gardens online acknowledge that they’re not following the letter of the law, but they always make sure to leave a path wide enough for people to pass in the event of a fire. Contact your city to find out about local codes and laws BEFORE you do any gardening on a fire escape, and no matter what you do, make sure your fire escape is still useable.
Best Plants to Grow on a Fire Escape
What are the best plants to grow on a fire escape? One important key to remember when gardening on a fire escape is size. You don’t want to overcrowd the space, so small plants are best. If you want to grow vegetables, cut and come again crops like lettuce and kale are good choices for utilizing the same space for a long time. Hanging baskets on the outside of the railing will help to keep the path down below clear. If you’re putting pots on your fire escape, make sure to put saucers under them. Even though water runoff isn’t going to ruin any furniture outside, it’s a good idea to keep it from dripping down the wall or onto the street below. If you’re worried about your neighbors reporting you, it’s best to make your garden as little of a nuisance as possible.
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The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.
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