Gardening is about making spaces beautiful and productive. No place is too difficult to plant something. After all, observe where weeds grow: in sidewalk cracks, on rooftops and more. Wherever there’s a bit of soil and access to sun and water, plants will find a way to grow. In other words, where there’s a weed, there’s a way.
For an aspiring gardener, this dynamic means that you can grow plants wherever you have a patch of sunshine with access to water. The broader definition of a garden embraces everything from a collection of herbs in the windowsill, to the narrow strip of landscape know as the hellstrip, to raised garden beds on the rooftop.
Get started gardening anywhere by understanding your site, what will grow best there, and providing the best ingredients for success. Wherever you grow, indoors or out, be aware of the amount of sunlight at the site. Most summer annual flowers and vegetables like full sun, about six to eight hours, while others can handle shade. Adequate water is important: most plants will need about an inch of water of week, either through rainfall or the garden hose.
More tips for gardening anywhere:
- Know your conditions: is the site sunny or shady or somewhere in between? In the Garden Center, plants are grouped by the conditions they thrive in. Take your time in the Garden Center reading plant tags or ask a Garden Center associate.
- Get the big picture. When selecting plants, instead of pulling one of everything, consider color and texture and pick more of a few kinds of similar plants. Read the plant tag and note the mature size for your arrangement.
- Getting adequate water to your plants is even more important in vertical gardens and container gardens. There are lots of ways to keep water on your plants, from moisture-retentive potting mix to drip irrigation systems.
Ideas for Growing a Garden Anywhere:
1. Container gardening is the answer to many gardening problems. Do you have a green thumb, but are limited to a balcony or patio? Fill your small space with containers of everything from dwarf shrubs to perennials.
Are you a homeowner who wants to grow edibles, but you worry about how a vegetable garden will look in your manicured lawn? Try growing tomatoes in ornamental containers on the patio. Are you time challenged, but still want seasonal color to brighten your landscape? Fill your porch and patio with colorful pots of show-stopping annuals three seasons of the year.
2. Hellstrip gardening. Fun to say and even more fun to garden once you know the right plants to use. A hellstrip is the no-man’s-land between the sidewalk and the street and it’s ripe for planting a garden.
People call this space the hellstrip because this often-neglected space endures some of the most extreme conditions, such as weather, foot and paw traffic, heat from the pavement, accidental tire marks and road salt in winter in some parts of the country. Get tips for growing in a hellstrip.
3. Go vertical. Gardening in a small space like a deck, porch or patio forces you to make the most of your site. Maximize your garden footprint, so to speak, by thinking of ways to garden up. Use planter stands to stack pots of edibles, annuals and succulents. Vertical gardens are decorative as well as functional. Check out more vertical gardening options and get tips for small space gardening success.
4. Mail it in. Start your garden at the street when you surround your mailbox with sun-loving, drought-tolerant plants. Add a layer of mulch and your mailbox garden will deliver colorful blooms throughout the year. Creating a mailbox garden can be as elaborate or as simple as you want.
To carve out space, you can outline with pavers or other edging material. For added appeal, pick out a new mailbox that suits your taste or perhaps one with a planter attached. Or, give your existing mailbox a fresh coat of paint to keep it looking new.
5. Raise it up. Take your edible garden to a higher level when you add raised garden beds. By simply elevating and containing the soil and plants, you will harvest higher yields due to the loose, rich soil and intensive planting.
Raised garden beds are the best choice if you have heavy, poor draining, sandy or clay soil. The added soil depth in a raised bed helps plants develop roots while improved drainage means warmer soil and earlier planting in spring. Add row covers in the coldest months to expand your harvest across the seasons.
Build raised garden beds this year.
6. Fill a windowsill. Savor the flavor of your favorite herbs and add a bright bit of green to your kitchen when you grow herbs in a windowsill garden. Many herbs will grow indoors as long as they have plenty of light and water. Even if it’s a short-term affair, you can move the plants to the garden in warm weather. Get tips for growing herbs indoors.
7. Success with succulents. You may have been strong up to this point and resisted the boldly textured and subtly pastel-colored succulents, but how long can you hold out? Give in to the temptations of echeveria with vibrant rosettes, compact and colorful sedum, durable aloe known for its medicinal properties and resilient crassula, popularly known as jade plant.
Succulents are low maintenance, but not no maintenance. Give them the right location, meet their sunlight and drainage requirements and they will thrive. Outdoors, they can be hardier than other perennials. Indoors, find the right spot and be consistent with temps and humidity.
8. Bag it. Try a brand new bag for growing strawberries and other crops. Grow bags fold flat when not in use and can be easily transported when they’re full of soil and plants. The breathable fabric lets air get to plant roots, unlike traditional raised bed gardens and containers.
Tip: Rotate a planted grow bag every few days so that plants get full sun exposure. Learn more about growing strawberries.
9. Take it to the roof. Roofs are a challenging environment for a garden. But when you overcome the challenges of greater exposure to heat and wind, you’ll find an uncluttered space ready for growth. Grow bags are a portable alternative to rooftop raised beds, and since they fold flat, they’re easy to transport to the roof.