Would the homeowners or tenants in your community enjoy having a community garden? This is a great addition whether you have a lot of common space to work with or just a little. But it's important to design the garden for success. What factors go into choosing the right location? Here are a few key elements to keep in mind.
1. Sunlight and Shade. In general, vegetable and herb gardens like a lot of regular sunlight. However, a location with no shade can become too hot for some plants. The right location, then, should generally be generous with sunlight but also have a few opportunities for dappled shade from deciduous trees, fencing, other structures, or outbuildings, for example.
2. Drainage. The right water retention is vital for a healthy garden. Drainage, though, involves a variety of factors. You should understand the soil's composition, compaction, and erosion. How do rain and runoff move through the area of the garden? Will you need to raise beds to achieve the right drainage levels? And how can you prepare the location for unexpectedly high rain or snowfalls?
3. Environmental Impact. People who raise their own food are concerned with a clean and healthy environment. How will the community garden impact the immediate and neighborhood environment? Ensure that the garden's runoff water won't cause harm by running into drains or eroding the surrounding landscape. Non-native plants shouldn't spread to disrupt local flora or affect community insects and wildlife.
4. Comfort. Assess the makeup of your homeowners or tenants and design a community garden then will enjoy. A senior living community might raise garden beds or use container gardening to make it more accessible. You might want to include other comfort features like seating areas, multiple water access points, and safe access paths.
5. Size and Shape. How large a garden should you design? Will it have traditional shapes or be more creative and fun? There is no right or wrong answer, but these elements must match the style of your residents and avoid being over or underwhelming in comparison with other community spaces. You may also want to consider future growth. A community planning to add more homes, for example, may need to hold garden space in reserve.
Want more tips for finding the perfect spot for a community garden? Start by meeting with an architectural landscaper in your area, such as Philip Moser Associates. They'll work with you, no matter what challenges your garden plans face, to create a growing space everyone will love.