Short on space but still want to live a green life? From vertical gardening to quirky containers, micro-gardening, as it’s come to be known, is for anyone who wants to get the most out of their gardens with a minimum investment of time, space, and money. Try these great ideas and start growing your own food!
Big Gardening Ideas For Small Spaces
Vertical gardening is the newest and most innovative concept in small-space gardening. When every square foot of floor space is at a premium, the best place to plant a garden is straight up the wall. Space saving and decorative, vertical gardens can be planted anywhere there is adequate sunlight. You can install a vertical garden along exterior walls, interior walls near south-facing windows, or even right in front of the window. Vertical gardens can also be made into privacy walls or be used to make existing privacy walls even more private.
Hanging pocket planters are one of the easiest ways to start a vertical garden. Inspired by people reusing old shoe organizers, there are now a multitude of commercially available pocket planters in an array of shapes and sizes that can be used indoors or out. Many of them are made from recycled materials and are both breathable (so there’s no need for drainage holes) and leakproof. Their versatility makes them perfect for planting nearly any variety of decorative or edible plant.
Vertical pallet gardens are popular options that are easy and inexpensive to build. Pallets are easy to come by—many businesses accumulate them, and if there is no deposit return for them, they are often very willing to let you take them off their hands. Once you have the pallet, it is as simple as buying some landscape fabric and stapling it to the back and sides of it, then fill the pallet with soil and plant between the slats. Leave your pallet horizontal and water thoroughly for a week until the roots take hold. Then, the pallet can be leaned up vertically. NOTE: You should only plant ornamentals in these pallets unless they are clearly marked “HT” for heat treated. Otherwise, the wood is likely chemically treated and shouldn’t be used for edibles.
Picture frame planters are also easily assembled on the cheap. A shallow box frame a few inches deep, backed with a piece of plywood, can be filled with a mix of soil and moss. All you need to do is simply staple chicken wire across the soil moss mixture to hold it in place. Plant shallow-rooted plants (succulents, lettuce, or strawberries) with the box horizontal, allow a few days for the plants to take root, then hang. Similar to pallet planters, picture frame planters should only be used outdoors to protect walls and furniture from any moisture damage.
Use That Vertical Space!
There are literally dozens of ways to creatively use the vertical space in and around your home for gardening. Try these ideas:
- Hanging reused bottles
- Growing on shelves
- Mounting containers to the wall
- Growing up a trellis
Another way to take advantage of small spaces is to think of different heights. Raised beds and planters can be tiered to allow closely sown plants to get adequate sunlight. Arrange containers of varying heights to maximize floor space on your patio, deck, rooftop, or balcony. Another overlooked space for containers is deck rails. Planters can be bought or built to sit on or hang from railings for extra garden space, and the balusters can be used for vining plants to grow up.
Butch Mockler is a New Jersey native now living in Southern Maine with his wife and son (and hound dog). He’s a woodworker by trade, a writer in his spare time and an avid fisherman and bow hunter. He also comes from a long line of fine Italian home cooks, and has discovered a new passion in gardening and homesteading. His article, Small Space Gardening Ideas, appears in the 2019 Farmers' Almanac.