5 gardening tips for small outdoor spaces

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Grace Lindsay



Summer fast approaching, which means that many of us will be turning our attention to our gardens, and how to make them as beautiful as possible when the hot weather arrives. If you don’t have a large outdoor space or live in an apartment with a balcony, fear not, you can still create an unforgettable garden.

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Ade and Sophie Sellars from Field agents shared their top five tips on how to use your small space in the best possible way, and which plants are best for different conditions. It’s time to put those green fingers to good use!

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What flowers can I plant on my balcony?

If space is an issue, consider planting in hanging baskets and containers. Fill them with creepers so they can hang over your balcony, filling the area with color for the coming summer season. Plants to consider are petunias, lobelia, and creeping fuchsias. To help create height for your containers, add osteospermum, gerbera, gazania, or even dahlias of a smaller variety. If you want structure, greenery, and a bit of drama, try adding a standard bay leaf. With a stem of up to 50cm and a round evergreen head, not only does it make a statement, but the leaves are ideal for the kitchen. Easy to maintain, it will never get unruly for an area with limited space.

hanging basket

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What vegetables can I grow on my balcony?

People seem to think that it takes a lot of space to grow vegetables, but it isn’t. There is so much that you can still grow with limited space. In addition, many varieties of vegetables now have a dwarf variation. It still produces the same crop, but the plant does not grow as tall.

Potatoes are always an easy vegetable to start with. Grown in bags and containers of potatoes, they take up little space. Moreover, once the flowers and foliage appear, they are an attractive element. If you have a sunny balcony, you can’t go wrong with zucchini. Happy to grow in containers, just make sure it’s stocked with fresh multipurpose compost and always keep them well watered. Once they start to bear fruit, the main thing is to pick the zucchini regularly. Not only do you get a constant supply, it signals the plant to keep producing. Salad leaves are really versatile and perfect for the summer menu. Whether it’s a rocket or a little gem, they need little container space but give great results.

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If growing up is a problem, try to grow taller. A smaller variety of squash can be grown as creeping plants such as uchiki kuri and little gem. Beans and peas are upright growing plants, and you don’t need to grow a lot of them to get a good harvest. The key is to create a strong structure so they can hang on and get up. Hanging baskets are always useful on a balcony, and with the right plants they can be very useful. Imagine growing your own tomatoes, it is possible. Varieties such as ‘tumbling tom’ and ‘pear drops’ are perfect. Hanging down, these plants are suffocated by the fruit. Remember to water and feed regularly.

If fruit is your thing, there are so many varieties of apples, pears, and plums that are grown specifically for patios and balconies in small containers. If you can hang a long container along your balcony, try growing strawberries. By purchasing early, mid-season, and late varieties, you could eat strawberries all summer long as they hang over your balcony showing off their plump, juicy fruits.

strawberries

Try hanging strawberries in a long container above your balcony

What plants and vegetables can I grow when I don’t have a lot of space?

Whatever you grow on your balcony, the key is to make your plants as comfortable as possible. And that means, watering and feeding regularly. Containers are limited space, and once the warmer temperature arrives, they can quickly dry out and deplete soil nutrients. Try to water in the morning or early in the evening when temperatures are lower and there is less water evaporation. In addition, always water at the base of the plant and not over the top. Under the scorching sun, the water can act like a magnifying glass, so if it is placed on the foliage, it can scorch the plant. Finally, make your life easier by adding water retention gel / granules when repotting your new plants. This will help the pots to dry out and could mean less watering for you.

watering can

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What if my balcony is shaded?

Just because your balcony is shaded doesn’t mean you can’t have a healthy growing area. It’s all about the right plants in the right place. If you want to relax in a lush green space, hostas and ferns are a fantastic addition. Thriving in shaded areas, they are low maintenance while producing fantastic colors and structures giving your balcony the wow factor.

To add color, try filling the containers with coleus or heuchera fuchsias. Finally, if you have an unloved corner, a little acer might be what you need. Slow growing plant, it can stay there for years. With attractive foliage, it will change with the seasons, giving you interest and a talking point.

balcony

Try filling containers with lots of colorful flowers for a lovely addition to your balcony

What are the best plants for direct sunlight?

If your balcony gets full sun, then celebrate it with a season of color. Plants such as dahlias and cannas will thrive. Want to grow sunflowers? So go ahead. There are so many dwarf varieties, with different colors, shapes and petals, that you are spoiled for choice. Sunflowers to consider are “Sunbelievable”, “Brown Eyed Girl”, “Teddy Bear” and “Sunny Smile”.

Are you looking for climbing plants that can be placed in a container and grow? Then try the thunbergia or the “black-eyed Susan”. A low maintenance plant, it not only produces thick green foliage, but also striking flowers of various colors. They can be raised on a structure or dragged to your balcony.

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