Many people are born with a green thumb or have the desire to develop one. Unfortunately, not all these people are fortunate enough to have large spaces in which to experiment.
If that describes you, despair not–all you have to do is learn the art of small space gardening! Keep reading and we’ll tell you all about it.
Why Small Space Gardening is Worth It
Maybe you’re wondering whether gardening in a small space can satisfy your plant parent urges. We assure you that it can!
Just because you can’t have a big garden doesn’t mean that small space gardening isn’t worth your time and effort. There are many benefits to creating a small space garden.
Grocery stores are often stocked with great flowers, herbs, and produce. However, if you’ve ever tried food straight from a garden, you know the difference in quality.
With fresh products constantly available in your own home, you’ll always have the finest supplies for cooking, baking, and decorating. They could even make thoughtful and unique gifts for loved ones.
Again, while grocery stores are useful, they may not always have the flowers, herbs, or produce you want or need. Growing plants yourself gives you a little more control over what you can use. This could help you broaden your botanical and culinary horizons.
If you dismiss small space gardening, you may lose an opportunity to familiarize yourself with a variety of amazing plants.
Even if you don’t harvest your produce or pick the flowers you create from gardening in a small space, they may still release lovely scents in your yard and within the walls of your home. Your home’s environment could become that much more soothing and inviting, so you’ll better enjoy every moment you spend there.
Trees have long been known to help the environment and reduce airborne illness by absorbing harmful gasses and releasing oxygen. Scientific studies suggest that smaller plants such as houseplants can achieve similar effects. The overall health effect on the air is smaller as well, but even slightly cleaner indoor air is better than no improvement at all.
Exercises New Skills
Gardening in general encourages people to develop useful new skills. Cultivation is an important skill to know, as it has sustained humans for thousands of years and continues to be relevant economically, environmentally, and politically.
In addition, since it requires careful attention to detail and consistent habits over long periods of time, gardening improves your patience and sense of focus.
You also choose what to grow and where to plant it, so there’s creativity involved, too. This is especially true with small space gardening because you must make the most of the area available to you.
Encourages Social Connections
When guests come to your home, they’ll likely notice your plants, making them excellent conversation starters. Plants continue growing and presenting new challenges, too, so you can always revisit the topic.
Plus, there are people all over the country who love plants and may also have a special interest in small space gardening. You can find casual groups, official clubs, and detailed classes both online and within your own community.
Join them to make friends with like-minded people!
Tips for Small Space Gardening
Look around your home and yard to figure out what space to use.
Is there a patch of ground that sits alone? Consider growing your garden there. If you have a fence, think about how nice your plants would look lining the perimeter.
Decks and patios could hold containers of soil that would suit small space gardening. A windowsill could be a charming spot, too. Get creative!
Once you’ve picked a place, take measurements so that you know what dimensions your container(s) can be. Also, gather any equipment you might need, such as watering cans, trowels, shovels, hoes, and pruning shears.
Get seeds for plants that don’t need a lot of room to grow. For example, there are dwarf varieties of nearly every type of fruit and vegetable. You could also consider dainty little flowers or succulents.
Herbs and spices tend to be compact or consist mainly of leaves.
Emphasize Vertical Growth
Many plants sprawl out horizontally or spread laterally. Although they are often wonderful, they are not well-suited for small space gardening.
Instead, choose plants that grow upward. That way, they’ll have all the space they need to flourish.
We’ve got more advice on this topic in an article about vertical gardening systems!
Certain plants help each other with pollination, fertility, and other crucial aspects of growth, so gardeners like to plant them close to each other. This process–known as “interplanting” or “intercropping”–is especially effective for small space gardening, as you can optimize the area you’re using to successfully grow multiple plants at once.
One common example is to plant tomatoes with radishes or lettuce. When gardening in a small space, cherry tomatoes may pair well with radishes; they are both compact enough to fit in most places.
Apply Succession or Rotation Techniques
Pests and diseases are common problems in soil plots that grow the same plants year after year. If you’re gardening in more than one place, rotate the plants every couple years or so. This gives the soil a chance to recover and prevents harmful germs, fungi, and pests from taking hold in your garden.
Keep your interplanted groups together, too, so that they can continue benefiting from each other. We’ve described specifics in our article on crop rotation.
Maybe succession planting sounds more appealing to you. This involves planting your seeds two or three weeks apart. That way, you’ll not only increase your yield year-round despite being restricted to small space gardening, but the nutrients in the soil will be distributed more efficiently, strengthening the plants’ resistance to damage.
Get more tips from our article on succession planting!
Ideally, use a combination of both these techniques for maximum protection and results.
A container keeps your plants safe and strictly defines your garden’s dimensions so that you always know exactly how much room you have. You’re also less likely to deal with encroaching onto nearby spaces.
Fortunately, small space gardening is doable in all sorts of containers as long as you’re willing to think outside the box. Here are some great options:
Coming in many shapes and sizes, raised beds can be set up anywhere. Most of them are equipped with great drainage systems, too.
By encouraging plants and vines to climb upward, a trellis is amazing for vertical growth and preserving lateral space in a small garden.
If you want to try small space gardening in a windowsill, then a window box is a must!
Small Greenhouses or Terrariums
You can find little greenhouses and terrariums to fit all kinds of dimensions for small space gardening. If you have the room, get a tall one with a few shelves. Plus, the warmth and humidity will do wonders for your plants.
Worn Hardware and Containers
Don’t throw away your worn-out pots, buckets, baskets, wagons, or tool boxes. Instead, repurpose them as charming garden beds!
Aged, obsolete, or broken bathtubs can find new life as containers for small space gardening. Extra points if the tub is vintage!
Tall, thick, and made of rubber, old tires make magnificent garden beds because they can protect the plants so well!
Maybe you have a watering can that doesn’t hold water very well anymore, but it can still hold soil, roots, and blossoms.
There’s just enough room in one old shoe to hold a plant or two. Put a bunch of them together to make a fun and unique aesthetic!
Plant Suggestions for Small Space Gardening
Do you want to try small space gardening, but you’re not sure what you want to plant? Allow us to inspire you! Think about these options:
Colorful, cheerful, and simple to grow, daisies are fantastic at utilizing small spaces to brighten up everything around them. Plus, humans can eat them!
As their name implies, root vegetables grow vertically and extend mainly underground. That makes them ideal for gardening in a small space. You can plant them close together without worrying much about lateral spread. Carrots, radishes, onions, and celery are great examples.
Like root vegetables, leafy greens like spinach, arugula, and kale don’t usually cover a lot of ground. That alone makes them well-suited for small space gardening. They also tend to thrive in low light. If you don’t have many places to plant in full sunlight, leafy greens could be your best bet.
In general, tomatoes are easy to grow and produce lots of fruit as long as they have plenty of sunlight. Plus, they come in a variety of compact options. Cherry tomatoes are a wonderful option, but you can also find dwarf varieties of other species, like bendigo rose or roma.
Featuring vitamin-rich juice and a light, sweet taste, clementines are an excellent choice if you only have enough room for one fruit. With moist soil, regular watering, and protection from cold weather, they’ll grow beautifully.
Most spices are tiny and easy to grow. You’d have a hard time finding a spice that doesn’t work well for small space gardening. However, we’d recommend these above all:
Nothing enhances your salads, desserts, and drinks like the dash of cool freshness that only mint can offer. It’s also so tough and independent that it demands almost no maintenance. Just remember it’s an invasive plant, so keep it in a container by itself.
With a spark of heat in every leaf, cilantro is the perfect for adding a spicy kick to whatever you eat. As long as you prune its leaves and stems regularly, it will thrive just about anywhere you decide to plant it.
Piney, earthy, woodsy–these and other adjectives have been used when attempting to describe the unique taste of rosemary. It’s low-maintenance and highly resistant to damage from pests, disease, and drought, and grows well in containers or in-ground..
Boasting a pungent yet savory flavor, oregano – gives richness and depth to almost anything you cook. Include it in your small space gardening project so you’ll have plenty on hand.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can you ensure the soil is healthy?
One advantage of small space gardening is that there’s less soil to maintain! As with regular gardening, just make sure that you use the right fertilizer for whatever plants you’re growing. It’s also worth mentioning again that plant rotation is essential to keeping soil healthy in any garden.
How can you provide sufficient sunlight?
To help your plants photosynthesize properly, do all your small space gardening in spots that receive at least six to eight hours of sunlight. If absolutely necessary, find a place to plug in an LED grow lamp as a supplement.
Barring all that, choose plants that don’t need a lot of sunlight in the first place. A handful examples would include cherries, berries, fuschia, begonias, root vegetables, and leafy greens.
What should you do if there’s no water faucet or hose nearby?
Ideally, your small space garden will have access to rainwater, but it might need extra help from you. Investing in a watering can is the easiest way to get water to your garden manually.
However, if you can’t or don’t want to carry the can back and forth, consider installing a drip irrigation system. Many of them come with extensions that connect to your hoses, faucets, and rainwater buckets, even if they’re far from the garden.
How can you protect your plants from pests?
You can also spray the garden with natural pesticides or introduce bugs that eat pests, like ladybugs.
How often should you prune or trim?
Since you’re unlikely to grow large trees or bushes when gardening in a small space, you don’t need to expend a lot of time or effort in pruning and trimming. Just check your garden daily to pull off any dead or diseased leaves, stems, or branches.
Trim off short stems or branches if they start crowding others; this will improve the plants’ access to sunlight and soil nutrition.
Start Your Small Garden Today!
Small space gardening is for anyone who is willing to make it work. If you follow our guide, we’re sure you’ll agree!Of course, there’s a wealth of additional information you need to know in order to grow the healthiest gardens possible.
Want more garden content? Visit our gardening page for more guides, explainer posts, and great ideas!