Hi, Loretta. Depends on if the tennis court is paved or not. Assuming it is in the US, it probably is paved with concrete or blacktop. You can use it for container gardens (the Princess Garden in Berlin, Germany, is a good example,) use a version of Barbara Pleasant's "instant gardens" using bags of soil mix (you can find a primer on that at Mother Earth News,) or you can construct planter boxes out of your preferred material, such as wood or masonry blocks. You will still need a dead-on reliable source of water, and full sun for best food production.
Drawbacks are finding a good source of soil to fill your planters (I don't say "raised beds" because farmers mean something else by that term, essentially piling up soil in mounds. They used the term first. Planters or planter boxes is more accurate, anyway. You want at least 30 cm/12 in of soil in your planters. You need to be careful about what you buy, and buying in bulk is always cheaper. Also, you may have drainage issues. Ask an experienced gardener or Extension Agent for advice.
Finally, if the pavement is still halfway decent, are there other uses for this area, such as basketball courts for local kids? Can you host a farmers' market there, or local art and music event (all this post COVID, of course!) How is it used now?
Community gardeners live for visions of a better world, and I can only imagine what cool idea you're proposing, where you can just see the garden there. And the more gardening opportunities we can create, the better! However, you may also want to look carefully for spots where you can restore and be a good steward of soil that hasn't been paved (yet!) Creating opportunities to safeguard our soil and keep it in production, or in naturall systems and habitat, is another important community gardening goal.
Good luck! Keep us posted!
Thank you for the input. We would like to remove the old surface and I am getting bids on the cost for that. We have a few ideas: remove the surface under the planter boxes and keep the rest intact as a walkway, remove the entire surface or put the planter boxes directly on the old surface, possibly over the cracks to aid with drainage. It will come down to the cost.
Agreed. I'm always in favor of the lowest cost and quickest way to get a garden started.
Plus, there's the question of what to do with the waste (build walls?) and the quality of the soil beneath the pavement. It's possible, if not likely, that the topsoil was stripped away before laying down the courts on a bed of sand or gravel. It might be ugly under there (and drain very poorly.)
So...think long term and how you can do nature a favor. Eventually, she'll get rid of it.
If it were me, and there was no better use for the surface (ball courts, dance area, giant painted labyrinth or medicine wheel, farmers' market), I guess I'd go with the Princess Garden/Havana gardens approach, with essentially improvised containers. A second choice would be to look for the least expensive and most environmentally friendly way to make planters (masonry? coir? bamboo?) and fill them with the most environmentally sound option available. Mix municipal yard waste compost with soil from some other paving project? Sounds like justice. I would leave the pavement as paths and gathering areas, but try art projects on it. And I just might drill holes in cracked areas and install saplings of rugged trees or shrubs that handle urban conditions. Ask your city arborist or equivalent.
And while you're at it, look for any decent soil in the area of the courts, and start working it. For instance, if there are neglected plantings around the edge or sickly lawn, how about a sunflower project there? Of 4 sisiters (beans, corn, squash, and sunflower?) That will get people's attention in a positive way.
Well, since it is a tennis court, I know you and your partners will have a ball! Whatever you decide, I know the cheers will make a racket and you'll generate a lot of love.
Sorry. Honest, good luck!
Great information and ideas which I will share with the committee. Thank you.