Plan Ahead for Small Garden Success

Leisure Pursuits

Choose the Right Garden Style and Plants for your Location

When colder weather sets in, it can be a real pick-me-up to thumb through garden catalogs, tune in to home and garden shows on television, and start planning your garden for the coming year. If lack of space has held you back from the joys of gardening in the past, it’s time to get a fresh perspective. Let’s look at all the gardening options available, no matter where you live or whether you have a lot of room to grow. Planning in advance will help you find the ideal garden type for your unique situation, including the types of plants that will be most successful.

Condo, Apartment and Rooftop Gardening

Terrace or balcony garden with small table, chair, and flowers.Apartment and condominium gardens demand the most creativity, so you’ll need to be resourceful when planning your new green space. Does your unit have a balcony or patio? A balcony garden may be the perfect solution. Plants on a balcony can provide shade and privacy. Depending on the plants you choose, you may also be able to attract birds and bees to your garden getaway.

Tip! Look across the Atlantic for inspiration! British gardens are well-known for having sweeping expanses of bountiful blooms. But UK gardeners are also remarkably skilled at making the most of whatever space they have available. They create lovely garden spots, especially on rooftops, and their designs can provide unique inspiration for smaller spaces. Find Brit-style garden ideas at House and Garden UK and other UK lifestyle websites.

Apartment Gardening, Inside and Out

For indoor apartment gardens, vertical planters and windowsill boxes take up very little space and can provide little bursts of color throughout your home. Indoor gardens can thrive in a sunny window or may also do well with the help of grow lights, depending on the types of plants you choose.

Some apartment and condominium buildings also have community garden spaces where you can dig, plant, weed and harvest alongside your neighbors. Explore your options with your building manager, swap ideas and go in as a group on seeds and plants to save money.

Townhomes and Small Yards

Small yards can provide a little oasis of calm when framed with shrubs, modest flower beds and hardscaping like pavers or stepping stones. Get creative with borders to accentuate individual beds. Choose plants with different heights and widths to create visual appeal. If you’re unable to dig or plant directly in the ground – a common concern with townhomes and associations – a profusion of pots around a patio is a great option for creating a green space for your home.

Got Sun?

The success of any garden depends more on sunlight than any other factor. Even shade-loving plants need a bit of light, and it’s easy to determine whether the spot you’ve chosen falls into the part-sun or full-sun category. Be an early riser and watch your proposed garden space to see when the sunlight starts to seep in. Note the time, then continue to check throughout the day to gauge your potential garden spot’s total sunlight.

If you live among deciduous trees, be mindful of the shade they will provide when they have leaves again in the spring. This will help you make informed choices about the plants you include in your garden. Be honest with yourself about the amount of sun your garden gets. A plant that requires full sun won’t thrive without it, and shade-loving plants will become stressed with too much.

Know Your Zone

If you’re investing in perennials, it’s important to choose plants that can withstand the soil temperature and other challenging conditions over the winter. Southern regions have more choices, but there’s no shortage of beautiful plants that thrive in areas where winter temps dip well below freezing. Consider that some plants may be able to overwinter in a heated garage or basement. Consult with a professional at your local garden center or do some online research to find plants that will thrive in your zone.

Map Out Your Garden Space

Small townhome garden with patio furniture amidst blooming lavender.If you’ll be planting outside, make a simple drawing of the space you have available, and how you’d like to place your plants. Giving plants the ventilation they require is nearly as important as sunlight, so you’ll want to calculate how many plants can do well in the space you have available.

A garden center professional can help suggest plants that do well together, those that resist disease and insects, and plants that aren’t likely to be disturbed by rabbits or other animal pests.

Buying Plants

There are lots of online sources available for live plants, including house plants, and most will ship directly to your door. If conditions allow, a trip to your local garden center is the best way to see plants in the light and envision them in your home or garden. Check on local delivery to make the process as easy and safe as possible.

Having a plan for new plants or a garden – indoors or out – can ensure the success of a beautiful blooming space for you to enjoy in the months ahead.