HDB Corridor Gardening Rules
The corridor of the HDB is an iconic facet to life in Singapore. Some choose to keep it plain and empty, while others grow a jungle out of their house (Tampines) or a “Jungle Walkway” (in Pasir Ris), *wink*.
Unlike people on both ends of the extreme, most high-rise home gardeners are able to keep a healthy balance on the spectrum – enjoying the benefits to health and well-being that come from being closer to nature. That is to have a garden right at the doorstep, WITHOUT being the infamous neighbough on the floor!
Since the HDB corridor is a common area shared by members of the public, there are a couple of rules to regulate the use of the space. And… as with most rules, if we understand the rationale behind the rules, abiding by them becomes a whole lot easier.
1. SCDF- Emergencies
To say it simply, the guiding principle behind most of the rules essentially revolve around safety. Think about times when people need to escape should an emergency arise, or even times when the paramedics and their stretchers need to gain access to units to save lives. These situations all call for ample space!
So according to the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), the general rule is that pathways of HDB corridors have to maintain a clearance of at least 1.2 metres in width. No objects are to be placed along common corridors less than 1.2 metres wide.
The corridors should also not be cluttered with excessive items as that may pose potential fire hazards. Therefore, it would be wise to strategically optimize the limited space available outside your unit.
(Trivia: The minimum unobstructed width of the corridor was increased from 1m to 1.2m after the revision of the Fire Code in 2013. Perhaps this whopping 20% increase is due to us urbaners having become wider in sizes, and therefore require more space for wider wheelchairs and stretchers to pass through.)
While the corridor outside units could possibly be used for gardening, the stairwell area should be kept clear at all times. So remember, as spacious as it may seem, never place any plants at the stairwell area!.
2. NEA- mosquito habitats
Upon obtaining permission to enter your home or premises, NEA Officers would focus their checks at areas where there could be potential breeding habitats. If the NEA officer detect mosquito breeding habitat in your premises the officer will show the mosquito breeding habitat to you and request your personal information
If your premises are found with mosquito breeding, you may be fined up to $5,000 or imprisoned for a term not exceeding 3 months or both, under the Control of Vectors and Pesticides Act (CVPA).
With this in mind, be sure to:
- Remove water in dishes daily to prevent mosquito breeding;
- Regularly flush plants that collect water (e.g. bromeliads, cocoyams and pitcher plants that may collect water at the centre of the flower where it buds);
- Regularly remove debris and dried leaves that could also collect stagnant water;
- Check hydroponic / aquaponic pumps and reservoirs regularly and change water if needed. Install mosquito netting over hydroponic/ aquaponic reservoirs.
3) Planting Tips for the Corridor Area
Since corridors are communal spaces and important passageways used by neighbours and members of the public, it is essential for us high-rise gardeners to have good gardening etiquette and observe safety regulations for safe access by the Singapore Civil Defence Force, Town Councils, and other managing authorities.
Ideally, where you decide to place your plants along the corridor should receive at least 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight in order to grow edible plants. Generally, select a West or East facing corridor as they typically have enough sunlight. If there is not sufficient sunlight available, then perhaps growing shade-loving ornamentals would be a better option for your corridor garden.
b) Planters / Pots:
Since most corridors are not the widest in width, narrow and tall pots (approximately 15 cm wide, 20cm tall) are some good options to consider. Besides saving space, tall pots are also very beneficial for planting fruiting vegetables as these plants tend to have deep roots and will require 20 to 30 cm of soil depth to grow healthily.
If your planters / pots are not tall enough to receive exposure to sunlight, you may also consider using flower pot stands or racks to prop them up. Do ensure that you use proper stands or racks that are durable and stable, so that plants can be placed neatly and safely along the corridors.
Friendly tip: Rounded planters and pots are good for outdoor use, especially in spaces where passers-by might frequent – this is to prevent them from getting hurt since they may not be familiar with the edges and positioning of your pots
Depending on the variety of plants you are growing, some plants require more structural support than others as they develop – for example, bitter melon, long beans, melons (honeydew, cantaloupe), tomatoes. Scaffolding sticks or trellis structures are tools you may use to provide the additional support your plants may need.
The amount of water you would need to give your plants closely ties in with the place in which you position your pots. Some useful questions to ponder are:
- If it rains, does the rain water reach my plant/ pot?
- How windy does the position of my plant/ pot get?
If the rain reaches your plant, then you can look forward to co-sharing the workload of watering your plants with nature! However, you do want to be mindful of the fragility of your plants as the younger and more fragile plants might not bear the harsh weather.
The reason why wind is an important factor is because in areas that are more windy, much of the soil moisture gets “blown” or “evaporated” away, thereby requiring more frequent watering of the plants.
Nutrients in the soil will deplete over time especially when growing edible plants which require plenty of nutrients in order to fruit or grow luscious green leaves. For optimal growth, fertilisers should be added regularly in small amounts to replenish nutrients lost – applying too much fertiliser at a go would cause drastic pH changes in the soil which may shock the plant into adverse conditions. It is also good to note that fertilisers (e.g. fertiliser pellets) should not be buried too close to the roots of the plant as it may be “too salty” for the plant ( you don’t want to “pickle” the roots!). Always follow the application instructions when using fertilisers – just like medication, different types of drugs require varying dosage amounts.
I hope the tips shared above help you have a clearer understanding of what you could potentially do should you want to plant some plants in your corridor area.
Disclaimer: The sharing of the aforementioned information is purely for public knowledge out of goodwill. Please do not hum-tum us if you know the rules better than we do – we would appreciate receiving a friendly email to be advised on updates for more accurate information.