Not long ago, I found myself cooped up in a modest dwelling, a studio size apartment with barely enough space to swing a cat, the type of property a real estate listing would call humble and full of character. Being a competent gardener, I craved a bit of nature, the feeling of soil through my fingers, the aromatic scents of spring.
In this compact space, I was blessed with a small balcony from which to commence operations. And I did. With aplomb. Now, apart from the odd garden design resource, I found information on gardening in small spaces hard to find (which is why we created our own guide), I thought I’d share my expertise and experience.
Types of Plants
A major consideration is the type of plants you’d like to grow. It takes a bit of careful preparation to get this right. Take into account things like:
- Growth – Read the label; the plants that might seem cute in the nursery may just keep growing and growing and overwhelm your compact space. Or their roots might simply grow more than your pot allows.
- Sun requirements – Many small spaces suffer from a lack of direct sunlight so choose a range of plants that suit your current situation. It goes without saying but if you don’t get much sunlight, pick part-shade or full-shade options.
- Colour – No doubt you’ll relish the array of colours that a garden, no matter its size, can produce. However, it can also look terrible if you simply choose a hodge podge of colours. Think about your furnishings, the colour of your exterior walls etc. before heading out to the garden centre.
- Watering – If you live a busy lifestyle, or you have the habit of being a tad complacent, buy low-maintenance plants. You’ll be pleased to know there’s an extensive range of plants that require virtually no TLC whatsoever. If this sounds like you, think about buying a succulent/cacti.
- Seasons – Gardeners often talk of seasons but what does it all mean? The main trade-off here is whether you’d like a full-on blossoming in spring/summer or if you’d like some foliage year-round. Again, it pays to think this over and read the label of plants you like the look of.
- Lifespan – Plants have different lifespans: annuals last one year, perennials two and some go on lasting forever, like a Duracell bunny.
Anyway, after careful consideration of these factors, I chose to fill my small garden with geraniums, silver spears, hyacinths, and a small section of edible plants, such as rosemary, basil and chilli.
- Think vertically – Climbing vines, utilising the railings and different heights, hanging pots and baskets, shelving and vertical gardens will help add space to your confined outdoor area.
- Group pots together – Maybe choose some different colours and size pots and place them together, almost so they’re kissing.
- Use everyday items – Toilet paper tubes, egg cartons, plastic bottles, coffee and tea grounds…all these items can be used effectively in the garden.
- Create a focal point – Doing this can help show off your outdoor space.
- Keep it simple – Selecting simple furnishings, plants and accessories will give off a lovely, minimal feel to your outdoor living area.
At the end of the day, like any animate being, plants respond to a bit of love. So the more care and nurture you put in, the better the result, guaranteed!
Article written by Australian Outdoor Living.