We may all have dreams of big, expansive gardens, but the reality is that most of us simply don’t have the space. There’s nothing wrong with that-- with a little creativity even the smallest of spaces can give you plenty of produce, flowers, or even a relaxing outdoor green room all your own. Keep reading to learn more about plants for small spaces and how to make a garden with little space.
Raised Gardens in Small Spaces
One of the most popular small space gardening ideas is the raised bed. Raised beds are great if your soil is poor or even nonexistent. You can build the borders of your raised bed out of wood, bricks, or cinder blocks and fill it in with good garden soil and compost. If you’re using a raised bed, space is at a premium. A good way to make sure you’re getting the most out of it is to use a method called square foot gardening. You can even lay out a grid on the bed itself. Depending on a plant’s size, you should be able to fit 1, 4, 9, or 16 of them in a single square foot.
- Big plants, like tomatoes and cabbages, need a square foot to themselves.
- Lettuce, Swiss chard, and most flowers can fit four to a square.
- Beets and spinach can fit nine to a square.
- Very narrow plants, like carrots and radishes, can usually fit 16.
When growing in a raised bed, keep the sun in mind. Plant your tallest crops on the north side of the bed and your shortest on the south side. You can save even more space by placing a trellis on the north side and growing vining plants like cucumbers, peas, and squash vertically.
Creating a Small Garden Space with Containers
If your space is too small for a raised bed, you can also make gardens in small spaces using containers. You can choose a nice container garden to suit whatever space you have available. If you have a small patio that you’d like to green up, arrange containers around the outside. You can add a lot of depth to a small space by painting the boundary fence green or placing a mirror against it. Plant things that have interesting foliage and bark and a long flowering period, so they beautify the space year-round. Plant a single large item, like a flowering bush or dwarf tree, to create a sense of varying levels and different views from different angles.
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The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.
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