Looking for a way to attract green-conscious millennials AND empty-nesters? Building a community garden in your next exterior renovation could be the perfect solution! Whether your building is located in an urban concrete jungle or the suburbs of Los Angeles, we’d bet that your tenants would still appreciate the aesthetics of a lush garden area in your public spaces. Community gardens began in the late 1980’s to meet the needs of families hurting from the economic depression, providing a practical resource for growing plants and crops. Urban gardens today not only provide an organic, sustainable option to grow plants, but also an environment that fosters socializing and relaxing with other dwellers within an apartment complex.
Benefits in Adding a Community Garden to Your Exterior Renovation Plans:
Giving your tenants the space to plant and grow their own fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers can mean happier tenants who ultimately stay longer.
- Attracting tenants: The higher income renter who is savvy in green sustainable practices isn’t the only kind of tenant who will appreciate this outdoor amenity! Empty-nesters who enjoyed working in a garden of their own at one time when they had their own yard etc. will be grateful for the opportunity to pick up where they left off with this hobby. There’s also a growing interest in “horticultural therapy” among senior citizens and the role it can play in being a physical activity that allows folks to also relax.
- Happy tenants stay longer: In urban settings like Los Angeles, many renters sacrifice the size of their unit for its respective location. But, being able to provide a spacious, green outdoor setting can serve as an extension of their own home. Public spaces become increasingly important to the tenant who lives in one of your 400 square foot studios! For many, the shared green spaces allow them to meet others in the building who they likely wouldn’t have interacted with otherwise. Community gardens break cultural barriers and can provide a little sanctuary for your tenants among the hustle and bustle outside. Plus, studies show that tenants who interact with their neighbors and have friends within the community, will stay longer!
- Reinforce that sense of community by hosting monthly events in the garden area of your community! Provide tenants with some wine, and maybe even some educational tips to take their knowledge of horticulture to the next level and we think you’ll see a spike in satisfaction levels.
- Environmentally friendly: Some owners are taking to the trend of “green roofs.” Well, it doesn’t only sound cool, it can really save you money. Green roofs, a layer of vegetation on rooftops, cut energy use and pollution by reducing temperatures of the roof. While legitimate green roofs do require a hefty investment upfront, some buildings would save $200,000 over its lifetime.
Planting Seeds for Your Garden Design
When including a community garden with your outdoor amenities, you should expect to invest between $5,000-$30,000 to get started. Additionally, set aside monthly capital to fund the cost of seeds, plants and other supplies for your tenants. If you’re creating a community garden on the rooftop, a tool shed is something to consider as well. Remember, investing in tenant satisfaction means ROI!
- Abide by building codes: Because apartment buildings are considered public, you do have to abide by local building codes for max building height, space use, and if you’re in a historical neighborhood, potentially other codes as well.
- Design elements: When designing your garden, keep accessibility in mind. Raised beds are easier to tend to and it also helps in keeping pests out of your renter’s plants!
- Location: Whether your community garden will be added to the rooftop or a courtyard, consider what the location means for potential crops. Some buildings promote some fauna in specific areas due to exposure to sunlight, and vice versa.
- Water and electrical: How will you supply the water for your urban garden? Can you run a hose from an interior location or do you need to install a new faucet and dedicated meter? In some cases, you may be able to avoid water charges by diverting your building’s gutters to deliver runoff to a rain barrel. If you intend to add night lighting to plant beds, consider what you’ll use as the power source.
Grow Tenant Satisfaction Levels
If the opportunity to attract and retain happier tenants doesn’t have you “sold” on this multifamily design trend, maybe the prospect of renting the plots out to your tenants will. By renting out plots by the square foot, your urban garden can essentially pay for itself.
If you’re interested in learning more about the construction and design of community gardens, and how they can be added to your exterior renovation plans, feel free to reach out to us. From converting underutilized grassy areas or renovating your rooftop space, we’ll help identify the best approach in adding value through this amenity.