Urban Gardening in Sydney

Urban Gardening in Sydney

The City of Sydney has pruned the red tape so residents can green up their streets and community spaces.

Green-keen residents of the City of Sydney now have a number of ways to enjoy their earthly surrounds, from community gardens and city farms to projects designed simply to brighten up inner-city streets.

Under Sydney City’s new footpath-gardening scheme residents can plant gardens outside their homes as well as apply for a grant towards the cost of a planter box.

The idea is to beautify streetscapes, but also, says Lord Mayor Clover Moore, to “make it easier for more people to work with their neighbours and get planting. These gardens reduce storm water run-off, improve the look of our streets and make them more liveable.”

One such street is McElhone Place in Surry Hills, which has a history of civic-mindedness. With its rows of planter boxes established in the late 1970s using laundry tubs discarded by renovators, the byway has become an inspiration and template for inner-urban green-thumbs.

To kick-start the scheme and encourage more street gardens, City of Sydney will subsidise, for a limited time, the cost of planter boxes and provide public-liability insurance for planters and gardens that comply with the footpath-gardening policy.

Some tips for would-be footpath gardeners:

  • Use the ‘Dial Before You Dig’ advice service to avoid disturbing underground pipes and cables.
  • Avoid spiky vegetation, protruding stems and use of stakes and guide wires.
  • Avoid tall vegetation that blocks sight lines.
  • Ensure pedestrian access.

Meanwhile, city farms are increasing in popularity, part of a shift towards locally sourced foods and the physical and social benefits of communal green spaces. The City of Sydney’s primary farm site will be Sydney Park in St Peter’s, with a secondary site near the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo being investigated. The City appointed a project manager for the Sydney Park farm in April 2012, and a business plan is being prepared to support its implementation and operation.

While the farm itself will take some time to establish, a ‘showcase’ garden was created early this year at Sydney Park. The garden featured crops and produce not normally found in backyard or community gardens, and involved workshops on topics from beekeeping and sheep-dog trials to no-dig gardening, while food-rescue organisation OzHarvest shared tips on how to minimise food waste at home.

The City of Sydney also hosts 19 community gardens run by residents that are used to grow fruit, vegetables, flowers and herbs.

These communal spaces can significantly cut down the distance fresh, organic produce has to travel and therefore minimises its carbon footprint, while also reducing household waste through composting.


The City’s Green Villages site has information about living more sustainably, starting your own community garden, where to find existing community gardens, and community-gardening success stories.

For information on footpath gardens and other schemes visit The City Of Sydney.

Words by Karen Miles / Photography by Annie Spratt

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