What Is Rural Gardening? 5 Characteristics (Explained)

Kendrick Hulse

Humankind has always relied on the concept of community.

Even today, when communicating over long distances is easier than ever, far more people live in urban areas than rural ones.

Where we live doesn’t just play a role in our relationships with other people.

Living in a city versus the countryside can also affect how we interact with the natural world. Gardening included.

Rural gardening is not inherently different from any other type of gardening. Yet rural gardens do feature common characteristics that we don’t often see in urban or even suburban gardens.

Keep reading to learn how rural gardening differs from gardening in other residential areas. 

How Is Rural Gardening Different From “Normal” Gardening?

Rural gardening may vary greatly or not at all from what you consider normal gardening. 

If you grew up or currently live in the countryside, then rural gardening is likely what you’re most familiar with.

But if you grew up in a more urban area, rural gardening may be a foreign concept!

5 Characteristics of Rural Gardening

1. No Close Neighbors

While definitions vary, The U.S. Census Bureau considers any area with less than 1,000 residents per square mile to be non-urban. But this number still includes suburban towns and villages. 

Rural areas tend to be even more sparsely populated. So it’s no surprise that rural gardens rarely border neighboring properties.

Unlike those living in cities and suburbs, rural gardeners don’t need to worry about their neighbors’ thoughts or desires.

No one will be bothered by the aesthetic of your native garden or the fruit falling from your orchard trees.

2. Large and Spread Out

Compared to urban and suburban gardens, rural gardens are almost always bigger and more spacious. 

While city gardeners must conserve as much space as possible using techniques like vertical farming, rural gardeners rarely encounter such problems.

3. Homesteading

Homesteading is a popular lifestyle that prioritizes self-sufficiency by producing food and other necessities at home.

While urban homesteading is possible, the practice is more common in rural areas.

Rural gardens often include homesteading elements, especially when they are used to grow fruit and vegetables.

These elements may be completely independent from the garden. Or they may form a symbiotic relationship.

Beekeeping is a frequent practice in homesteading. Not only does beekeeping produce edible honey but you’ll never have a shortage of pollinators for your garden.

Another great example is raising chickens, ducks, or geese. These birds provide eggs and meat and will eat harmful insects and weeds found in the garden! 

4. Wildlife

It’s not that urban areas lack wildlife. But animal populations tend to be higher and more diverse in rural areas.

The presence of more wildlife means that your plants are more likely to fall victim to a grazing deer or foraging bird.

Keeping wildlife away from your garden beds may require intense planning and maintenance.

It can also mean a greater desire to use gardening practices that support native wildlife.

This may include planting pollinator-friendly flowers or creating safe habitats within your garden.

5. Few Regulations

Rural gardeners rarely need to worry about municipal regulations regarding private land use.

This is in contrast to urban gardeners, who frequently have to get special permission to transform their properties into gardens.

Some garden projects may require legal permission, such as building a greenhouse or removing endangered plant life.

Reach out to a local authority if you have questions about a specific project.

Are There Different Types of Rural Gardening?

Like other gardening styles, rural gardening can be divided into broad categories based on its structure and the type of plants being grown. 

Most rural gardens fall into at least one of these categories. You may also find gardens that bear traits of two or more categories.

Ornamental

Purely ornamental gardens are grown solely for their appearance. With that said, nearly all garden beds include elements of this gardening style.

Rural ornamental gardens are more capable of holding a wide variety of plants. They’re also better-suited to large species of shrubs and trees.

Some rural gardeners also grow fields of ornamental plants to sell as cut flowers or starters. 

Fruit and Vegetable

Fruit and vegetable gardens are extremely straightforward. Typically, the only thing differentiating rural vegetable gardens from other beds is size.

The fruit and vegetables grown in a rural garden may be the household’s sole source of produce. Or they may be used to supplement store-bought items. 

Particularly large gardens may be harvested and sold at roadside stands or farmers’ markets.

Native

Native gardens feature species that grow naturally in the area. These gardens are popular because they feed local pollinators and require fewer resources.

Some native gardens are sown from seed. Others are created simply by supporting existing plant life on the property and shaping it into a structured garden bed.

Native gardens are not exclusive to rural areas. However, this style of garden can be one of the best ways to protect the ecosystems in and around your property from invasive species and harmful gardening practices. 

Inground

Inground beds are what we tend to picture when it comes to traditional gardening.

This style of gardening is very popular in rural areas, in part because there is no shortage of tillable land.

Container

While container gardens are often used to conserve space, they’re still common in rural gardening. 

Container gardening is ideal for areas where digging into the native soil is either impossible or undesired. Raised beds can also be beneficial for gardeners with limited mobility.

Greenhouse

Many rural gardeners keep some or all of their plants in a greenhouse.

A greenhouse is a particularly valuable tool for those who rely on gardening as a source of food or income. 

These buildings may be used to protect delicate plants in the early spring or whenever the weather turns sour.

Greenhouses also serve as natural barriers against pests, disease, and wildlife.

What Are “Non-Rural” Types of Gardening?

As we’ve mentioned, the defining characteristic of rural gardening is that it occurs in the countryside.

Outside of this fact, rural gardening can take on many different forms.

With that said, some garden trends are seen more often in suburban or urban gardening than in rural gardening.

What Is the Difference Between Rural and Suburban Gardening?

Suburban gardening bridges the gap between rural and urban gardens.

These gardens tend to take the form of landscapes rather than strict beds. 

Most often, the goal of suburban gardening is to complement buildings or other structures on the property. The gardens themselves are not the intended focal point.

However, some suburbanites do grow more traditional ornamental or vegetable gardens. These gardens may be grown in the ground or raised containers.

Since suburban properties vary greatly in size, many gardeners adopt space-conscious practices like vertical planting or hydroponics.

Neighbors tend to be a bigger concern in suburban gardening than in rural areas.

Some residents may be subject to Homeowners’ Association (HOA) rules regarding what they can or cannot do with their property.

What Is the Difference Between Rural and Urban Gardening?

Urban gardening is about as far away from rural gardening as you can get! This style of gardening occurs in densely populated towns and cities. 

Many urbanites participate in community gardens. These gardens feature small plots of land that neighborhood residents can cultivate in lieu of a private garden bed. 

In some cases, residents don’t have access to land at all. Patios, balconies, and rooftops are all common makeshift garden locations. 

Urban gardening is heavily reliant on containers and space-saving setups like vertical gardening. Hanging baskets are also used to grow flowers, herbs, fruit, and vegetables.

Urban gardens can include any type of plant, though vegetable gardens have been very popular recently.

This is partially due to urban gardening’s ability to increase access to fresh produce in underserved communities.

One of the biggest obstacles in urban gardening is the presence of laws and regulations banning certain practices.

It’s often illegal for urban gardeners to grow certain types of plants or keep compost piles.

Conclusion

Rural life has its fair share of pros and cons. But when it comes to gardening, the countryside offers a whole host of benefits you won’t find in more densely populated areas.

Many people choose to move to a rural area specifically for the freedom it offers in terms of gardening and general land use.

If your dream is to start a small business based on growing produce or ornamental flowers, then there’s no better place to call home than the countryside!

Rural gardening isn’t always something you choose to do. Even if you find yourself living outside of town for another reason, understanding the ins and outs of rural gardening will ensure you get the most out of the experience. 

Rural gardening can also teach you valuable skills like how to coexist with the natural environment and local wildlife.

And we could all use a little more patience with the world around us (even when its inhabitants call our homegrown produce dinner!).

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