Do you ever find yourself succumbing to garden envy? Especially in the summer months, when you catch glimpses of garden life… floral vistas and vibrant greenery, with people blissfully soaking up the sun’s rays? Don’t let the fact you live in an apartment hold you back.
Apartment dwellers all around the world are turning the tiniest of spaces into inner city oases brimming with plant life, from pretty flowers, to herbs, fruits and vegetables. Even if you’ve only got limited balcony space or window ledges, there are many creative solutions for making the most of your space. To create a winning urban garden in your apartment you’ll need to know what to plant (and plant in), the best kinds of plants for the space you have, and some creative ways to make your apartment garden look the part.
What to plant in your urban garden
If you’re lucky enough to have a south or west-facing balcony you’ll be getting plenty of sunlight all day. Why not start with some gorgeous flowers? How about yarrows, Shasta daisies, coreopsis, blanket flowers, butterfly weed, lavender or Russian sage? Plant some flowers and your balcony should soon be a fragrant haven for human and insect life alike.
If you happen to have a shadier balcony, don’t worry. It’s not game over! You’ll be able to decorate it with plenty of ferns, which thrive in the shade. They can be placed strategically on shelves to create a beautiful leafy environment. North or east-facing balconies make great homes for flowers such as astilbe hybrids, begonias, copper plants, caladiums and amethyst flowers.
Vegetables and herbs
Thinking of planting veg in your urban garden? If you’re low on space, we recommend going for shallow-rooted plants like salad greens (e.g. lettuce and spinach) and garlic. Herbs are one of the best ideas for apartment gardens. Urban herb gardens not only look and smell divine; they also give you the option to make interesting meals with minimal effort.
Herbs are easy to grow, as they generally don’t require too much sunlight. They also look great in decorative planter pot sets, if the aesthetic element appeals to you. Some of our favourite meal-enhancing herbs are mint, thyme, rosemary, basil and sage.
Urban containers for limited spaces
Mason jars are an excellent space-solving solution for apartment gardens. These stylish looking jars are convenient containers for all kinds of plants. Place these in rows on shelves or window sills and your space will come alive quickly. People who are handy at DIY can even mount them on walls. This is classed as a vertical garden, which we’ll cover below.
Terracotta pots, buckets and wooden boxes
These options are great for those with a more spacious balcony. You can use these containers for larger plants, plant arrangements or vegetable items. Be sure to get containers with drainage holes so you don’t end up saturating your precious plants.
Hangers and planters
Hangers are popular containers for apartment gardens. Just when it might seem that you’re running out of space, hangers add a whole new element. If your ledges and sills are chock-a-block with other plants, your ceiling space is as good as any, and even if you have more space at your disposal, hangers will look the part in any inner city oasis.
This modern rust ball hanging planter is an attractive focal point for your inner city garden. Pop some ferns, orchids or bromiliads in it, or use it as a candleholder or bird feeder. You may want to consider using a suspension rod if you don’t fancy drilling directly into your ceiling.
These decorative ceramic owl planter pots not only save space in your urban garden; they also add a pop of colour here and there. They come in three sizes and colours and make the perfect homes for herbs and cacti, for example. These fox planter pots are another colourful space-saving container to complement any inner city garden.
Good old wooden pallets are an innovator’s dream; an excellent framing solution and a fine addition to any apartment’s urban garden. Grab yourself some discarded pallets and use them as platforms for growing on, or paint them up and use them as urban garden furniture. They’re so versatile that your imagination is the limit… and if they’re too big for your apartment, it’s nothing a saw won’t fix.
Beautifying your balcony
Hide the uglier spots
Ok, so bland apartment balcony railings are never going to look inviting, but if you can’t or don’t want to paint them, you can just disguise them with strategically placed urban garden plants. This way you’ll also get much more privacy. You can set it up to be an enclosed space away from prying eyes, so it’s a win-win idea.
The best urban garden plants for creating privacy and beauty at the same time are grow climbers like ivy, honeysuckle and jasmine. You can also opt for some of the more exotic vines; we particularly love passionflowers for this. Even vegetables can do the job - beans and gourds are great for this purpose, in fact.
Make a small space feel large with a vertical garden
As mentioned above, a vertical garden in your apartment is a wonderful space saving idea, and you can achieve it with a range of containers and mounts. Vertical gardens turn out best when you use stack planters, railing planters, vertical wall planters, wooden pallets and hanging baskets. In terms of the best vertical garden plants to use, we suggest bromeliads, ferns, hostas, succulents, begonias and vines.
Set up a hydroponic garden
Hydroponic systems can be a little more complex to set up but they’re really worth the effort. These systems allow you to grow plants without soil. However, you’ll need to be sure that plant roots are properly suspended in nutrient-rich and pH-balanced water. Once you’ve done your homework on hydroponics for your urban garden, you’ll be growing greens and fruit, vining plants, root crops, herbs and flowers all year round.
Keeping it green
We are all interested in making our environments more eco-friendly, how about placing a worm farm or compost bin on your balcony. Worm Lovers has some great balcony sized options for both. You can reduce your kitchen and paper waste going to landfill and provide an amazing boost of nutrients to your balcony plants with hoe grown compost or worm juice. Just like Indira Naidoo does on her own balcony garden.
Don't forget to water
Maintaining your balcony garden can be challenging and you must remember to keep watering your plants. Just like the garden, the quality of the soil in containers will affect your success. Ensure your potting mix it has good water retention, good air-fill porosity and good drainage. Mulch well, drain well and feed well. For an extra boost add water retention crystals to help your pots from drying out. Think about where the water will go when it drains from your pot plants and how you can control it. Place a saucer under your pots to catch water and prevent it from staining your balcony floors. You can learn more about maintaining your balcony oasis here.
We hope you’ve found some inspiration to create the best urban garden in your apartment, and we’ll look forward to bringing you more green-fingered inspiration in the near future! Thanks for reading and don’t forget to follow our blog for more top gardening tips.