There’s a harsh reality for plenty of Canadians with green thumbs who can’t indulge in the luxury of a full yard to explore. Perhaps you’re in an apartment or condo, maybe you rent, or it could be you simply want to bring the outdoors inside.
Tall potted plants use vertical space to help add depth to a smaller residence, and we’ve seen how planters can add to outdoor appeal without hurting your budget. Herb gardens, big or small, indoors and out, are always popular with foodies, and if you play your flora cards right, you may attract some desirable fauna even without a huge greenspace.
To help you ease into some new ideas for your space-friendly garden, we’ve collected some thoughts to share with you. Be sure to add your own tips and tricks in the comments and on our social media pages.
While the idea is obvious with more than a touch of cliché, there’s a reason why: containers simply make sense when your space is limited.
In a large yard, you can replant to take advantage of soil conditions or the sun. Without access to square metres of soil, containers give you versatility, not to mention the easy redecorating options. You’ll also have the ability to move containers indoors through frost warnings, or extend your growing season in both directions—much to the envy of your plot-bound friends.
When choosing your container, do so carefully. Drainage is a must no matter what style direction you choose. Think both complement and contrast when considering design and, for larger pots, avoid choices that are too bold, since they can’t be swapped out easily.
The vertical garden
When you’re looking at the limited footprint of a balcony or patio—and wondering how to keep your planned garden out from under foot—take a look around at the amount of vertical space you have to work with. Now it’s time to think up. From hooks and hangers through shelves, to dedicated wall pots, vertical alternatives assure you have maximum room for seating and tables. You can also find vertical tower gardens that grow fresh produce without soil!
Or, how about a string garden? Kokedama is a Japanese garden artform with a history as old as bonsai. Translating literally to “moss ball,” kokedama starts with the root ball of a plant, surrounded by a clay and peat mixture that gets wrapped in soft green moss. You can place your kokedama on a tray, but the most dramatic way to display these pieces of living art is suspended from string. These are a spectacular addition to your vertical garden.
You don’t need an extensive ground plot to grow your own food, so don’t rule out fruits, vegetables, and herbs from your yardless gardening. You can mix container and vertical plantings for grape and cherry tomatoes or climbing strawberries—plants that use cages for upward mobility.
Strawberry pots are a genre unto themselves and you need not be limited to growing berries. The multiple pockets in a terra cotta urn are a perfect way to keep your herbs organized, with perhaps a few spaces left for new flavours you’ve never tried.
Can you imagine growing your own potatoes in a visually appealing way? Look no further than the potato grow bag. You can improvise your own solution, but commercial versions with a velcro side flap are handy at harvest time.
The window box
Inside or out, there’s perhaps no more logical place to add garden space than a window ledge. A sunny kitchen window simply cries out for herbs and an otherwise lacklustre view is perked up with a splash of colourful annuals.
Though you may start your garden in the spring and summer months, consider fall and winter seasons, too. The cooler temperatures may not support active growth, but a window box out of direct sunlight supports long-lasting seasonal arrangements. Imagine your favourite holiday wreath reassembled horizontally.
Add some brown and orange elements to suggest fall, or choose a holiday theme when December arrives. Don’t forget to go vertical here, too. A window box can add curb appeal as well as brightening the view from inside.
When you’re renting or when you have a condo association in place, there may be limits on the sizes and types of planters or fixtures you can use. Be sure to research any restrictions before your trip to the greenhouse to avoid disappointment later in the season.
Make a budget and a list before you leave for the garden centre, since you know you’ll be tempted to go overboard when you’re surrounded by lush greenery. Otherwise, now is the time to put your planting plans in motion. Happy digging!
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