30 Small Space Gardening Tips for Apartment Dwellers and Urbanites

Don't let limited outdoor space prevent you from trying out your green thumb. From tasty fruits and veggies to flowering plants, trees and shrubs, container gardening is the trick to growing it all in less space than you may think.

Potted Lemon Trees

Get Your Daily Dose of Vitamin C

Dwarf variety citrus trees are not only beautiful, given the right conditions, they can also be bountiful. Fill terra cotta pots with these flowering fruit trees to give your outdoor space a sunny, So-Cal vibe. Lemons, limes or oranges — learn which citrus trees perform best in pots.

Outdoor Wall Bench

Green Up a Privacy Wall

Urban living often means cramped quarters both indoors and out so make the most of the space you have by thinking vertically. Designer Dan Faires repurposed wood beams from a NYC building that was slated for demolition to create this privacy wall with shelves he filled with potted plants. See more of Dan's NYC digs.

Patio Roses in a Small Container Garden DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Pot Patio Roses

For urban-dwellers lucky enough to have access to a patio or rooftop that receives at least 5-6 hours a day of sunlight, planters filled with patio, mini or dwarf roses will provide colorful blooms all summer long. Learn how to plant these dimutive stunners.

Strawberries in Window Box Planters DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Grow Strawberries in a Windowbox

No outdoor space? No worries. All you need is a sunny windowsill to produce a season's worth of sweet strawberries for topping salads or yogurt, or for filling pies, cobblers or sunkers. Learn how to plant a windowbox or hanging basket with summer's favorite fruit.

Contemporary Galvanized Containers DK - Grow Plants in Pots © 2011 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Group Pots Together

These galvanized containers in various sizes contain a veritable veggie patch of chives, peppers, leeks, strawberries and tomatoes. Grouping containers together like this is not only visually appealing, it also helps to create a more humid mini climate for the plants, reducing moisture loss from both leaves and potting mix. Get tips for selecting the right container.

Put Railings to Work

Plant-filled baskets that line the railings surrounding this Brooklyn, NYC patio provide a natural break between the outdoor living room and a view of lower Manhattan beyond. Learn more about this space.

Shiny Happy Sunflower People DK - Ready Set Grow! © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Get the Kids Involved

Dwarf sunflower seeds, potting soil, empty tin cans and enamel paint are all you and the kids need to grow your own cheery characters. Green up your thumb and get crafty with this cute project.

Colorful Container Plant DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Be Selective When Picking Shrubs

When selecting shrubs for container gardening, it's important to keep the plant's mature size and growth rate in mind. Slow growers that maintain a small, compact shape, like this Japanese pieris 'Flamingo' are an ideal choice. With glossy dark leaves year-round and clusters of pink urn-shaped flowers in early spring, this shade-loving shrub will add color and year-round interest to even the smallest of outdoor areas. Get more tips for selecting the right shrub for your container garden.

Container Chilies DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Sunny, Warm Spot? Plant Chiles

Break apart a spicy or mild dried chile to release dozens of plantable seeds. Sow the seeds in multi-purpose soil then place the pot in a sunny, warm location, like a windowsill. In just a few months, you'll be enjoying fresh-from-the-garden chiles. Learn how to pot your own chiles.

Opt for Low-Care Succulents

If your green thumb is a little, um, brown, a low-maintenance plant, like echeveria shown here, is a safe bet. Thanks to their ability to store water in their fleshy leaves, stems and roots, succulents require very little watering — but they do require plenty of sun. Position the pots where they will receive at least 2-4 hours of direct sunlight each day and water sparingly only when the topsoil is completely dry, about every 10 days.

Potted Clematis DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Add Columns of Color With Flowering Vines

Compact climbers, like jasmine and clematis, are great container plants. All they need to thrive is a pot with good drainage, a trellis or post for support and regular watering and feeding. Learn how to pot your own climbing plant.

Mobile Container Garden

Make a Mobile Garden

Add casters (available at your local hardware store) to the bottom of metal trash cans to create rolling planters you can easily move around your outdoor space or even bring indoors when temperatures dip. Learn how to make your own.

Tomatoes and Basil Taste and Look Great Together

Grow Tomatoes From Seed

A little early planning and a few packets of seed are all you need to grow a bumper crop of the country's most popular homegrown veggie. Establish the seedlings indoors then transfer them to a waiting pot in a sunny spot for a summer's-worth of fresh produce.

Kitchen Garden DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Build a Windowbox for Herbs

Basic woodworking skills are all you need to turn pressure-treated lumber into a convenient spot for growing fresh herbs all summer long. Add a line of copper anti-slug tape (available at specialty gardening shops) to ensure that you're the only one munching on the harvest. Learn how to construct your own windowbox.

Vintage Can Garden Containers

Get Creative With Containers

Don't toss out that empty tin, instead fill it with a potted plant to add a splash of color and pattern to your outdoor space. To prevent excess water from rusting the container's bottom, be sure to punch drainage holes using a hammer and nail before adding the potted plant. Get more tips for upcycling old containers.

Thriving Green Wall DK - Simple Steps to Success: Fruits and Vegetables in Pots © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Garden Vertically

Perfect for the smallest of outdoor spaces, this multi-pocket fabric wall planter from Burgon & Ball offers a kitchen garden's-worth of planting space for an assortment of fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, chives and basil. Irrigation holes in each pocket allow excess water to drain away, ensuring plants stay moist but not overly wet.

Loam Based Potting Soil Equipped for Large Plants DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Choose the Right Potting Soil

The difference between a healthy container plant and one that doesn't thrive could be as basic as choosing the right soil mix. Give container plants a healthy head-start by learning the pros and cons of 4 different potting soil types.

bluebird hydrangea makes a good container plant DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Pick the Right Shrub for Shade

If your patio or terrace is shady, consider planting a hydrangea, like this lacecap hydrangea 'Bluebird' whose showy blue, pink or purple flowers (dependent on your soil's acidity) will add a splash of color from late spring through summer. Browse more shrubs that perform well in pots.

Dividing Lettuce by Type DK - Ready Set Grow! © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Fresh Salad At Your Fingertips

Salad greens are not only tasty and oh-so good for you; they're also quick to grow — and best of all, when you cut leaves for your salad, new ones replace them so you can munch happily all summer long. Get step-by-step instructions for growing your own salad patch.


Grow Your Own Blackberries

In under an hour, you can plant a large container with a blackberry plant (Tip: Choose a thornless variety) to provide you with fresh fruit for topping salads or filling cobblers and pies from end of summer to early autumn, depending on your location. Learn how to pot a blackberry.

Drill Holes in Base of Container for Drainage DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

7 Tips for Prepping Containers Before Planting

Plants need water — that's a given — but too much water is too much of a good thing. Pots without adequate drainage can cause plants to wilt, lose color and ultimately rot. Make sure your pots are planting-ready with these tips.

Round Patio Table

Green Up Outdoor Rooms

High above West Hollywood, this patio enjoys sunshine 300+ days/year. Planters filled with bamboo surround the loft's outdoor spaces for privacy while a Kimberly Queen fern on the table and a pair of asparagus ferns on the ground filter LA's famously polluted air while requiring very little maintenance. Browse more photos of this loft.

Dwarf Fiesta Apples DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Apples in the City

Even the smallest patio can produce a bumper crop of crisp apples. Popular apple varieties include 'Egremont Russet', 'Cox's Orange Pippin', 'Discovery', golden yellow 'Elstar' and 'Blenheim Orange' with its crisp, nutty flavor. Get more tips for growing fruit in containers.

Purple Violas DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Winter-Worthy Plants

The container gardening fun isn't over when winter arrives. Blooming annuals, like pansies, ornamental cabbages and primrose will cheer up containers till spring arrives. Learn 7 more choices for winter gardening.

Hanging Baskets Filed with Herbs and Vegetables DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Hanging Herb and Veggie Basket

Plant a hanging basket with cherry tomatoes and an assortment of herbs — like basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano or parsley — to keep fresh seasonings for an Italian dinner within easy reach.

Show Garden Features Tiered Raised Beds DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Save Space With Raised Beds

Make the most of even the smallest amount of gardening space with tiered beds. Easier to maintain than a traditional garden (plants are at a more comfortable level) these elevated containers also warm up sooner in the spring and stay warmer later into fall than a traditional garden making your patio or rooftop the envy of the neighborhood.

Ripe Hanging Peaches DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Plant a Mini Orchard of Peaches

Although most peach trees aren't well suited to growing in pots, varieties that have been grafted onto dwarfing rootstocks, such as 'Pixy', 'St. Julien A.' 'Bonanza' or 'Garden Lady' are safe bets. Be sure to plant in large pots and fertilize before and after flowering. Get more tips for growing fruit in containers.

Pink Flowers

Pot a Variety

Combining several small plants together in one pot is a great way to mix colors and textures. Plus, since young, small plants are typically cheaper than mature ones, it's also a budget-friendly option. To make brightly colored flowers — like this pink kalanchoe and zinnia — really pop, plant them in a terra cotta pot that has been painted a flat black.

Green Dining

Designer Jamie Durie turned this underused patio into a private outdoor dining room for a couple who were eager to combine two passions: gardening and entertaining. A pergola provides shade and gives this outdoor space a secluded feel while a wall covered in edible-plant-filled pouches puts fresh veggies within easy reach so guests can help themselves.

blueberries are regarded as superfoods DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Pot a Pair of Blueberries

Harvest a bumper crop of these tasty superfoods by potting a pair of blueberry bushes in acid-rich soil. Fertilize regularly to promote growth and be prepared to cover the bushes with netting while they're producting fruit to keep birds from eating the fruits of your labor. Learn how to plant delicious blueberries.

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