Large-Scale Community Garden Designs Are About More Than Just Growing Food

Posted on: 1 September 2017

Starting a community garden seems like it wouldn't take a lot of effort -- you need land and people willing to start garden plots, right? But any large-scale revamping of land affects more than just the cosmetic aspects of the area. Starting from when you dig all the way to maintaining a thriving garden year after year takes a lot more input than just that of the people planning to add some carrots and beans. This isn't to say that it can't be done, just that you need to address several aspects first and talk to people such as civil engineers before you proceed.

Monitoring Drainage

Any change in the soil composition or content is going to affect drainage. This will change even more if people using the garden plant things like potatoes (which require a hilling process, depending on the method used to grow them) or try to form mini terraces. The looser topsoil usually used in gardens could erode more easily in heavy rains, clogging nearby storm drains. While the individual plots and what goes in each might be the domain of the individual gardener, you'd need to contact a landscape engineer or architect to figure out how all that gardening would affect the area's ability to drain if heavy rain struck.

Protecting Utilities, Roads, and Sidewalks

In addition to the possibility of eroded soil clogging storm drains, the soil could run onto nearby sidewalks and streets. If the gardeners were to dig too deep without checking for utilities, they could cut gas or water lines. And last, but not least, you'd also have to look at parking options for people who rent plots but who don't live within easy walking distance. All of this is something a civil engineer can help you with by looking at how the design and use of the land might affect nearby infrastructure.  

Planning for Pest Control

If the garden is in a densely populated area or adjoins the yards of other residents in the area, pest control becomes more important. Gardeners have to deal with pests trying to eat the food; that's normal. But you don't want to have pests spreading to other yards because that is a financial and time-wasting headache for the other property owners. A landscaping company or nursery can give you pointers on how to plan for pest control in a multi-user community garden.

Testing for Soil Contamination

Another factor to check out before you start your community garden is whether the soil itself is suitable for growing food. Land used for community gardens often comes from abandoned lots that might have contaminated soil after years of being exposed to traffic and pollution. The area might have had a rather toxic past, too. Landscape engineers can help you plan the best way to test a large area.

It is possible to start a community garden, so don't be discouraged. Just proceed at a reasonable pace and do your research. Contact landscape and civil engineers, and nurseries before you do any digging to ensure you don't forget anything.

Talk to a company like Morris-Depew Associates Inc for more information and assistance. 

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