Why Urban Gardens Require a Purpose

In the city, the gardens you see – whether in the park or on a high-rise rooftop – have been intricately designed as sites for exercise, reading, laughing, and talking. They’re crafted to be more than just a stop-and-smell-the-flowers pit stop.

Cities are concrete jungles. Sure, every so often you’ll meander past a bright green park or a bed of flowers, but it never feels like it’s enough.

Of course, there’s something gorgeous about the steel-borne skyscape. But city dwellers are craving more and more garden areas to be permanent fixtures intertwined with the buildings of tomorrow. It’s a constant battle: functionality versus practicality. While it’s pleasing to the eye to gaze over greenery in the middle of a mostly gray, concrete city, it has to make sense in the eyes of an urban landscaper.

Daniel Weinbach of Daniel Weinbach and Partners, Ltd., a Chicago-based landscape architecture firm, has become an expert at achieving the balance necessary here between the aesthetically pleasing and fully functional. Most of Weinbach’s work deals in commercial properties, and it appears he’s seeing an increase in crafting outdoor spaces for his clientele.

“Right now, the big trend for high-rise properties is to have a very extensive amenity program that will include a deck, swimming pool, fire pit and grilling station and general garden areas for groups of people to sit outside,” Weinbach said. “These days, urban gardens tend to be the most important piece of the property since it’s something easy to market around.”

With space being so limited in the jam-packed urban outdoors, landscapers need to be cost-conscious as well as realistic. The gardens atop high-rises need to be both easy to manage in addition to being visually appealing, which means Weinbach has his work cut out for him on a daily basis because these things to do not typically go hand in hand.

“Urban gardens are generally more structured than suburban gardens,” Weinbach said. “It’s a really important piece of the property these days. If you have really interesting or attractive amenities and outdoor garden spaces, it sells.”

The urban garden trend is becoming integral to the commercial and residential spaces and properties across the cities of America. While they generally require intensive planning, they substantially increase the appeal for the prospective buyer – they’re just easier to promote and sell. People are looking for reasons to break out of their cramped office spaces and apartments, and Weinbach and his team of urban landscapers are pros at creating a space that accomplishes those two different, and necessary, questions: Is this space attractive, and is it functional? In the city, an urban garden needs to be both.

Weinbach said that these community gardens attached to the properties he helps design are often some of the most-used spaces in the building because of their multi-functionality, making them valuable for both property owners as well as tenants.

“This is what’s trending right now,” Weinbach said. “Providing property owners with these high-quality and efficient garden spaces is the best way to compete in the market.”

If anything, urban gardens will only become an even more important feature within and in between the buildings currently under construction.