By Little House Photo by KSmilie
There’s no better way for me to wind down at the end of the day than by relaxing on my patio, staring off into luscious green foliage. Yet with a move on the horizon, from residential house to suburban apartment, I realize I can’t forgo the garden even if my patio is a scant 8 feet by 10 feet. I need the fresh flowers and green leaves that give me the sanity only nature can provide. After measuring out my patio, plotting creative container ideas, and utilizing my outdoor space efficiently, I found that almost any area can be turned into a garden oasis, no matter how diminutive the space. (See also: Vegetable Gardening: 4 Cheap Hacks)
Containers of All Sizes
The solution to my patio predicament comes in the form of containers: small, narrow, and vertical. Since my patio is rectangular in shape, the best solution for me is utilizing the three walls surrounding the perimeter and keeping my plants growing up and out, leaving me plenty of room for my bistro table. Space-saving containers include the following:
- Window boxes — Window boxes are normally narrow and horizontal in shape, but they need not only be used in front of windows. Window boxes can be securely anchored to the top of a patio ledge or placed on the ground. An alternative idea is hanging them from a wall or, if your apartment building or complex allows, hanging over a ledge. Not only do window boxes take up less space, they have multiple functions.
- Hanging baskets — Half moon-shaped baskets can hang from any wall, or a drop-down basket can hang from an awning or overhang. Hanging baskets are space savers, leaving the ground clutter-free. They can be used at various levels creating a rich garden surrounding your patio.
- Small and narrow containers and pots — Small round pots and narrow containers can be clustered together at different levels using plant stands. Not only can one corner hold many plants, but lifting the plants off the ground allows room for the others to grow.
Small gardens don’t only exist in apartment living. Many houses found in condensed cities have small yards that are begging for some flora. For areas with a small patch of dirt, raised beds can add color and utility to a cityscape.
- Raised beds — Most raised beds are DIY. Purchasing rot-resistant wood at a local lumber yard, begin with 2-by-4s varying in length. Since you’ll be adding your own soil, the existing dirt can be used as the floor of the bed. Raised beds can come in many shapes and sizes depending on how much room you have to work with. Raised beds also provide plants with excellent drainage.
Making the Most of an Indoor Environment
What happens if a patio or outdoor area is too small for a garden or non-existent? Use your sunlit windows and create an indoor garden sanctuary. Varying the size and height of plants with the help of plant stands and hanging baskets can turn a corner into a mini-garden. Some indoor plants I’ve had luck with include:
- Philodendrons — In particular the heart-shaped variety. They tend to grow with very little care, a deep watering every couple of weeks, and pruning. I’ve even grown a couple in my shower (they love the misted moisture).
- Corn plants — They look similar to mini-palm trees with waxy green leaves and thick trunks. They tend to prefer filtered sunlight and require minimal watering.
- Herbs — Cilantro, mint, and rosemary, to name a few flavorful herbs, can be grown indoors. Be sure to provide ample sunlight and drainage.
With any container plant, adding nutrients every so often will benefit your plants.Checking the amount of water and sunlight the plant needs for optimal growing conditions will help reduce any plant troubles and keep them disease free.
Comment: This article demonstrates how someone living in an apartment can bring a little greenery into his/her life. More green, less concrete. Enjoy the view.