What is a Productive Urban Landscape?

Updated: Mar 5

So what are Productive Urban Landscapes (PUL)? That's a great question, but it might be easier to define what is not a Productive Urban Landscape first since we walk by these landscapes every day: front yards, school landscapes, church landscapes, etc with lots of grass and little creativity, biodiversity, or life. These places are often designed with a lackluster approach and are high input, meaning they require a ton of fossil fuels and elbow grease for weekly “mow and blow” maintenance or else they run wild with weeds and other unsightly riot. In other words, these landscapes put nature in a box and run counter to natural ecological processes, so they require constant maintenance to keep nature from doing what she does.

Paris urban vinyeard
Paris is filled with these sorts of examples of Productive Urban Landscapes at work. Here a vineyard, with berry bushes and elegant landscaped stone steps sits right next to shops, homes, and a bustling city street. Image credit Paul Gueu via Shutterstock

Productive Urban Landscapes, at their core, are places with soul, places that use natural processes to minimize work and inputs and maximize everything that makes nature great. You see, nature has no hard lines and plants, animals, and fungi often work together to create thriving ecosystems. People, on the other hand, like to put things in boxes, long rows, and use hard lines to define our landscapes and our lives. Productive Urban Landscapes use the natural desires of plants and animals in order to create lively, joyful, gorgeous, and useful places that can be enjoyed year round.

Integrated spaces blending agriculture, horticulture, and traditional landscaping

PULs are simply landscapes that promote 3 simple elements: Food, Ecology, and Community. They are dynamic landscapes that i