A Bit of Ground Gardening in Small Spaces

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This article was written by Gail Griffin, Extension Master Gardener℠ Volunteer in Lee County.

Gardening, in and of itself, presents its set of challenges. Yet for those of us who are drawn to it by our nature are compelled to find solutions to problems that arise. Gardening in a small space has its own limitations, but if you desire an interesting landscape, an edible garden, pollinator haven, or varieties of flowers, with a little planning those boundaries are only limited by one’s own imagination.

One of the first steps in planning any garden space is to decide what you are trying to achieve. Is privacy an issue? Are you looking for a particular type of landscape? Do you want to incorporate flower beds or a spot for a vegetable garden? Locating these areas within your space will help determine what you will be able to grow. How much sunlight the area receives will limit or enhance the types of plants thatUpright growing shrub can be used. For height, columnar-shaped or upright growing shrubs give an illusion of space. Plants, such as vines, that can be trained on a trellis or arbor draw the eye upward and can be planted in small, tight spaces. Varieties of vegetables, like cucumbers, peas, and pole beans can be trained to grow on supports. Vertical gardening is one of the latest trends. Containers filled with potted herbs, succulents, flowers, and leafy greens can be hung from fences, walls, and balconies using wood, latticework, or even recycled materials.

As with any landscape design, varying textures and bold colors add dimension. There are many trees and shrubs that differ in leaf size and color to keep visual interest throughout the garden. Raised beds are ideal for small vegetable gardens as they allow good drainage and give space for roots to grow. Using the square foot gardening method will help make optimal use of the space. Containers also play an important role in a small landscape. Placement in various areas in the garden or along a path can add a design with interesting shapes and sizes. Decks and patios can be a perfect place for containers of flowers or perennials or herbs. Dwarf varieties of tomatoes and peppers can be grown anywhere in a sunny spot.

Gardening in a small space can have the advantage of using less water, requiring less maintenance, and be less labor-intensive, but it doesn’t have to be any less spectacular than a larger one. All it takes is a little planning. American editor and writer Charles Dudley Warner (1829-1900) once wrote “No man but feels more of a man in the world if he have a bit of ground that he can call his own. However small it is on the surface, it is four thousand miles deep; and that is a very handsome property.”  Only have a bit of ground in which to garden? Lucky you.

For more ideas on landscaping, explore the Design Gallery under the Extension Gardener Toolbox or go to our website.

Gail Griffin is an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer in Lee County