Tips, Tricks & Resources

Urban Garden Center Tips, Tricks and Resources

After 50 years of gardening in New York City, we have developed some tips and tricks to keep your plants healthy in small spaces.  We also offer some techniques that you may want to consider when planning your urban garden.  We also have a great selection of resources too.

Weights and Measures

40lb bag of soil = approx. 1 cubic foot

1 cubic yard of soil = 27 cubic feet of soil

27 ltrs of soil = approx. 40 lbs

1 bag of mulch is 2 cubic feet

1 bag of gravel is .5 cubic feet

1 bag of Stalite Permatill is .75 cubic feet

1 City Cord is 15 bundles of 16″ firewood [11.25 cubic feet]


Is my plant poisonous to my pet?

We find that most plants have some kind of toxicity level that may be harmful or dangerous to your pets.  We suggest checking with the ASPCA before you make that purchase.  You can search their database here:


Not sure if your soil is safe to plant edible plants?

There is a good chance your soil may have some type of contaminant that is unsafe to you and your family.  While we recommend planting in containers or raised beds not directly connected to the existing earth in your yard, you can test your soil at with Dairy One.

Click on this link to get started:

Soil Testing


What hardiness zone is my garden in?

If you are in New York City, you will likely be in Zone 7B.  That means our winters can get as cold as 5F.  Choose your plants wisely.  Look for plants that can survive in Zone 7B or below.  Not sure what zone you are in?  

Click this link for the USDA Hardiness Zone Map:


Looking for the right fertilizer for your outdoor plants?

We carry a full line of Espoma fertilizers.  They have a great website where you can find the right fertilizer for your plant.  

Click here to find the right fertilizer for your outdoor plant:

Plant food finder

When can I plant without the fear of frost?

According to Dave’s Garden, Each winter, on average, your risk of frost in New York City is from October 19 through April 21.

Almost certainly, however, you will receive frost from November 1 through April 6.

You are almost guaranteed that you will not get frost from May 7 through October 5.

Your frost-free growing season is around 181 days.

Want to check out your free frost date?

Click here:


Want to learn more about plants?

Looking for the right plant is not easy.  Knowing about your environment, climate and how to care for the plant is the first step.  To learn more about plants, we suggest the following sites:

The National Gardening Association

USDA Plant Finder

Bloom IQ

Dave’s Garden


Costa Farms


More Tips and Tricks from Urban Garden Center


Watering tips for indoor plants:

Most plants get adequate water if you give them a nice shower every 10 to 15 days.

Do it in the morning and let them drain all day while at work.

They will be nice and dry when they get back.



Soil tips for containers:


If your container is 2’x2’x2’ (8 cubic feet), you will need 6 to 8 bags of soil depending on the size of the root mass and the drainage medium.


Drainage Tips for containers:


Your container should have 1” of gravel or any drainage medium per foot of height of the container.  Your container should not be laying flat on the ground.  Use dunnage like synthetic wood strips (commonly known as trex) in 2” to 3” segments to raise the planter off the floor.  This will allow the water to flow freely out of the pot.  This becomes extremely important during the winter months. Oh, and make sure the container has weep holes.  We also suggest adding a filter fabric over the drainage medium to keep the soil from getting to the weep holes (not a perfect technique, but seems to work).


Mulch Tips:


100 sf of yard to cover with 2” of mulch is 9 bags.


Gravel tips:


If you want to spread 2” of gravel over 100 sf, you will need 32 bags of gravel.


Firewood Tips:

What is a City Cord of Firewood?

A “City Cord” is 15 bundles of 16″ firewood [11.25 cubic feet]

What is a Face Cord of Firewood?

A Face Cord of firewood is 16″ quarter split logs laid out 4’H x 8’L x 16″ W

What is a Cord of Firewood?

A Cord of firewood is 16″ quarter split logs laid out 4’H x 8’L x 4’W

For more information, please contact us at or call us at 646-872-3991.  

Photo credits
Top soil
Gravel in container
Spreading gravel
Dog eating plants
Soil testing
USDA Hardiness Zone