Alicia DeVore

No room for a garden plot? No backyard to grow in? Want to grow some herbs to use fresh for dinner? Or maybe you have a backyard, but there is not enough sun exposure for you to grow a garden. Let’s take look around your space to see where to find the essential elements to grow a small garden.

With anything that is worth doing, sometimes you just need to get a little creative to make it happen. You don’t need to have a lot of space to grow a garden. In this article I share gardening expert advice on 5 creative ideas to successfully garden in small and tight spaces.

small space gardening

Vegetable Gardening is Possible in Small Spaces

Planting your own fresh produce can happen with small space gardening ideas. While a large outdoor garden yields bigger crops, small space gardening can create a space to grow the vegetables and herbs that you want.

If you have the right container, soil, water and the amount of sun you can produce your favorite vegetable in an extremely small footprint using a patio, balcony, a fence in a yard, or even ground bed to grow.

What are the Roadblocks?

The roadblocks to planting in small areas is based on several factors.

Do you have adequate sunlight? How much outdoor space is available? Will it be easy to water? Is there a garden’s layout that will work best in small areas?

After taking a look at the questions that have been roadblocks in the past when thinking about vegetable gardens, you can start creating with the right direction to make a garden happen.

tomatoes & basil growing in containers
gardening in containers

What Type of Garden do you Want?

If you don’t have much area for planting your garden think about most plants like fruits or vegetables, you’ll be able to purchase at your nearest supermarket or store.

Evaluating your Space

When designing a garden, think beyond the surface level. You want to provide the elements unseen by others for your vegetables to grow. Check out this blog post on growing in small and tight spaces or this post with a list of resources that will help you grow in tight places.

Provide full sun, organic healthy soil, and consistent watering and most edible plants will thrive. If your space does not have these three essentials then think about growing inside with artificial lighting.

Knowing your Seasons

There are three seasons of growth depending on the highs and lows of the average temperatures in your area. And your small area may still be different than what you feel walking on the street.

Knowing what vegetation thrives in each season will make your gardening more successful because you are working with your garden and not against it.

Cool season crops like the temperatures to be between 35-75 degrees. Plants that are cool season include lettuce, spinach, greens, carrots, beets, peas, and radishes.

Warm-season crops like the temperatures to be between 65-80 degrees. Plants that are warm season include tomatoes, eggplants, parsley, and peppers.

Hot-season crops like the temperatures to over 85 degrees. Plants that are hot season include melons, okra, bush beans, pole beans, cucumbers, summer squash, and winter squash.

These crops overlap making it important to know which plants will stop producing because of the weather change and which ones will excel with the change of weather.

seedlings to plant in small spaces
Starting seedlings

Selecting Plants for a Small Space Garden

Small-space gardeners have focused on this issue for a decade, with a broad choice of compact plants that will suit even small gardens. Look to find smaller or compact varieties of your favorite things to eat.

Find small tomatoes that you can trellis easily and that like the heat if you live in a hot climate. Plant small varieties of bushy plants if you don’t have space for a trellis or support.

Utilize the columns as focal points or as a space-saving living wall you could add supports to allow more things to grow. Using pole or long beans to grow in a vertical space allows vining plants to use the same space to grow with other plants at its base.

Choose your plants wisely

If you’re growing in a tiny space, it’s tempting to grow things too close or too far from one another. Plant groups compete for nutrients and sunlight if there is not much space so leave the growing area as they mature.

The opposite is also true. If you have too much soil exposed, you are not using the space efficiently to grow your favorite plants. Keep growing in spaces that won’t be covered by maturing plants.

Avoid planting things as big as pumpkins or melons in gardens, as these crops take up quite a bit of gardening area. Planting small varieties of vegetables, fruit, and herbs in containers or small, raised beds on a patio or in pots is possible.

Choose vegetables that can grow well together like marigolds, small tomatoes, and basil. All three of these planted together work well in less space.

herbs growing indoors next to light
Plant herbs in containers

Layout considerations

The garden design you create will help to maximize your yield but also ensure the garden receives the necessary nutrients and sunlight. A small garden can yield lots of produce if what you have planted is getting all that it needs to grow.

Using succession planting to maximize your garden layout is a brilliant idea. Successful succession planting is growing seeds every two weeks of the same plant so that you can enjoy the harvest for months to come.

5 Creative Ways to Garden

  1. Container Gardening:

    Small containers offer the perfect solution for bringing seedlings into smaller spaces, particularly on sidewalks and balconies. Containers come in all shapes and sizes. For perennial herbs, choose containers that are big enough with drainage holes to let the roots of a small herb grow big through the years. For more information about growing in containers in the fall and winter, check out this blog post.

  2. Vertical Planters:

    There are a few types of vertical planters on the market. I highly recommend a Greenstalk Vertical Planter. I have 5 of them and grow herbs, lettuce, spinach, kale, chard, celery, and many other yummy veggies throughout the year with little maintenance.You can get the Greenstalk with wheels, which I highly recommend, and be able to rotate your 30-40 plants easily. Watering takes about 30 seconds per Greenstalk and is evenly distributed throughout.Greenstalks come in layers, so you can have 2-5 layers of growing. This makes it easy to plant more for each season. Find out more in this post about Vertical planting.

    vertical planters with over 30 plants in each
  3. Tall Raised Beds:

    A tall, raised bed may be a great option for you as they come in many sizes and the height makes getting sunlight easier for your little garden.Choose a bed that has easy drainage so that your plant’s roots won’t get waterlogged, but any excess water can have a place to go.And create vertical space to grow up inside the raised beds. It provides a beautiful visual of your small garden but also gives the plants what they need in support and light to grow well in less space.You can also use the square foot method of gardening. Determine how many square feet you have to work with. You can mark it out by feet and then know what plants to put in each “square foot” depending on how big that plant will get in the future.

  4. Grow Lights Inside:

    If you have a closet or a countertop, then use a grow light that can stand on its own and adjust to the height of the plants.

    I would not recommend buying products from companies that restrict you to solely using their products, like soil and plants. This limits you to only growing what they offer and can get costly. Being able to grow from a bag of seeds and a variety that you want to eat is easier and makes gardening fun.

  5. Go Vertical or Hanging Plants:

    You can add more to any garden with a trellis or support system.

    A window box and hanging baskets can be perfect places to grow herbs. Growing herbs are more forgiving and do not need so much attention or sunlight to keep growing.

    Window boxes also can be a great place to grow lettuces and greens for the cool season months and then add flowers in the summer for pollination and color. These can be very versatile for small spaces.

How to Transition from Season to Season

As the weather changes, so will your garden.

Use empty spaces in the garden to add seeds and transplants for the next season.

For each new season, you may have to pull plants out that are growing and producing well because in a month or so, those same plants will be impacted by the change of weather and not be able to survive. Knowing what to plant next for your garden will ensure that you have a garden growing all year long.

When I don’t pull summer crops out like tomatoes, eggplants, or peppers and I leave them in for the cold season of fall and winter, I end up with wasted spaces of dead plants when I could have been growing cool season crops and enjoying all fall and winter. If you want tips on how to garden in just 10 minutes a day, check out this blog post to help you.

Tips to Make it Easier

  1. Pick compact varieties

  2. Find small spaces in a sunny area.

  3. Split up your Gardening Spaces to areas to grow more.

  4. Add drainage holes to all containers or gardening space so roots not to get waterlogged.

FAQ

  • What can you grow in a small space?

    It may surprise you to know that even a small space can be used for growing an array of plants. From herbs, vegetables and fruit there are many options for cultivating life in limited square footage. Herbs such as basil, parsley and chives are ideal for small spaces; they thrive in pots and window boxes.Dwarf fruit trees also do very well in tight spaces, producing delicious yields over many years. Vegetable varieties like ‘patio tomatoes’ or ‘bush cucumbers’ require little room and are prolific producers.

    You can plant seedlings in these containers with the information in this blog post.
  • For more 10-minute gardening tips to get you growing, check out this blog post.
  • How do you fit a lot in a small space?

    One way to fit a lot into a small space is to choose plants that don’t require a lot of room.

    Herbs, vegetables, and annuals are all good options for small spaces. You can also consider planting in containers or hanging baskets to take advantage of vertical space.

  • What 3 vegetables grow well together in small spaces?

    Three vegetables that grow well together in small spaces include tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers.

    For more information on growing in small spaces, check out the main page for more resources.

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About the Author

Alicia has been teaching her whole life from elementary teacher to workshops for beginning gardeners.  Go HERE to read Alicia's story into gardening from plant killer to pro grower and garden coach.  If you want to send Alicia a quick message, then use her contact page HERE.

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