Small Space Gardening

There are many different reasons for people choosing to garden in a small space like on a balcony, patio, or courtyard. For some they have moved from a large house to smaller accommodation, and some have chosen to live in rental property to avoid the high-cost of owning a home. Whatever the reason, this doesn’t mean we can’t garden. No space is too small for a small space garden. You could say that only one plant in a container is a garden. In fact, many gardening options are available in terms of pots, half-barrels, window boxes, troughs, cast-iron planters, recycled materials – the list is unending with possibilities.

Planning a Small Space Garden

Small Space GardeningWhen planning your small space garden several steps are fundamental. The first consideration is to determine what purpose this space will serve. Next what do you want to do in it, grow vegetables, herbs; entertain family and friends; meditate; create a place of peace and healing; have a memorial garden – the list is endless. Now, walk around your space and really look at what you have. Where are the doors, sheds, permanent and planters located? Clear out any clutter and start with a clean slate.

If possible, take a chair and sit down, move it around, and think about where the energy feels best for you. Wherever that is, place your seating such as a park bench, lounger, Adirondack chairs, dining furniture, swing, etc. Do you want a formal or informal setting? Think of what features you may want? Features such as water, flowers, wind chimes, wild life, color, etc. These can add the finishing touches to your small space garden. Finally, have a plan particularly if you are going to use large features such as a half-barrel because once filled with soil you will not want to be moving it.

Creating a Small Space Garden

Containers: Generally speaking natural materials such as wood, clay, stone, or cast iron in all their forms make better companions for plants. Remember that wet soil weighs a lot so if you garden is on a balcony you may have weight restrictions. Containers made from lighter weight materials such as fiberglass are ideal for roof or balcony gardens. The styles of containers include hanging baskets, wirework stands and baskets, wood window boxes, sinks, troughs, galvanized buckets, old shoes or boots, and all manner of recycled objects.

Scale: Scale is extremely important in small space gardening. For example, small plants look more balanced in small containers, large plants in large containers. I especially like the effect of vines growing on trellis in half-barrels with smaller plants edging the container. I have found that the effect of scarlet runner pole beans is really a knockout with their gorgeous red flowers and you can eat them too.

Small Space GardeningMicroclimates: You should choose plants according to the conditions suitable for their optimum growth. Plants such as begonia, coleus, and Fuchsia prefer shaded areas while geraniums, marigolds, and petunia prefer full sun. Also if you are gardening on a balcony wind can be a major factor and damage fragile plants. For this you need to choose plants that are wind tolerant such as many of the grasses; the sound of the rustling of the grasses as the wind blows through them is very pleasing to the ear.

Soil: I buy pre-mixed potting soil from garden centers or department stores. These are generally lighter in weight, are sterilized to prevent weed seeds from germinating, and contain a lot of peat moss that helps loosen the soil so that it doesn’t compact in pots.

Watering: Check daily as container plants often dry out more quickly. This is especially true if you are using clay pots. Make sure your pots have drainage holes though, as roots sitting in water will rot. You may even want to empty saucers that are full after heavy rain fall.

Fertilizer: Due to frequent watering, container plants require fertilizer on a more consistent basis than plants in the ground do. I use only organic fertilizers such as blood meal, bone meal, or fish emulsion, as I add the soil to the garden at the end of the season, and chemical fertilizers harm the wildlife.

Function: When you are creating your small space garden you are actually designing an outdoor room. So keep in mind you may want to color coordinated it so it appears as an extension of your home. I also move my indoor plants outside for the summer (which they love) and design these areas as garden rooms.

Small Space GardeningFocal point: Create a focal point such as a large pot, tall plant or small tree, color, or a water feature. You can also create a sense of mystery by hiding a plant or ornament behind something else to give the pleasure of discovering it.

Color: In a small space, try using three colors such as pinks, blues, and whites; reds, oranges, and yellows; or reds, whites, and purples that provide continuity rather than too many colors which tend to be distracting. Cool colors can make the space appear bigger and brighter while intense colors tend to shrink spaces. A white and green color theme called a ‘moon garden’ is more formal and particularly at night it’s spectacular.

Lighting: I like the small Xmas lights hidden in plants or interwoven throughout a trellis with climbing vines. Small spotlights can focus attention on a particular area for evening entertaining.

Small space gardening is fun and not that much work as you don’t have that much to take care of. But it can have a huge impact on your outdoor living space.

Continually developing “ideas for outdoor living”

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This entry was posted on Sunday, February 1st, 2009 at 8:03 pm and is filed under Ideas. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

82 Responses to “Small Space Gardening”

  1. Quatapa Says:

    great post I needed some ideas for my small yard and this really helped me.

  2. Gulary Says:

    Small gardens are just my size. good help

  3. Lapote Says:

    I really like what you have to say.

  4. Fomiza Says:

    I love my patio it is the only place I have to grow some flowers and enjoy them. Thanks for the good info and help.

  5. Yoho Says:

    when you only have a small yard then you have to make the best of it. good ideas

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    Great post, you made some very valid points in it. Appreciate you taking the time to maintain this blog 🙂

  7. Vax Says:

    I really enjoy gardening and only have a small yard that is why this was right what I needed.

  8. Chester Says:

    Having only a small garden works for me. Good info

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