The first mistake nearly every new gardener makes is making their garden plot too big. Of course, there’s no such thing as a garden that’s “too big” only a garden that’s too large for the gardener to care for properly with the time and energy available to do so.
So before you run out and start your new garden this year and before you order every seed the catalog from your supplier has to offer, consider the time and effort that will go into your garden. You want your garden to remain a labor of love, not become a burden that eventually gets neglected.
Here are three ways to control your garden’s size and make it more convenient and productive at the same time. It’s recommended that those new to gardening start small and build up rather than starting huge and realizing the need to trim down.
Small Garden Design Ideas: Container Garden, Planters
There are a myriad of varieties of garden plants that grow well in containers. This type of gardening has the added advantage of being both indoors and out – which means it can be a year-round endeavor. It also has the advantage for the beginner of allowing for easy control of the soil and drainage that are paramount to successful plants.
There are varieties of every popular garden vegetable available as container plants: tomatoes, onions, lettuce, squash, you name it. Each will have specific needs in terms of the size of the pot and whether some kind of support will be needed, but all will grow healthy (and tasty) in a planter or container.
One popular type of planter gardening is called “bucket gardening.” In this method, buckets of 3 or 5 gallons are used in tandem. Holes are drilled in one to facilitate drainage. This bucket is then placed into another one, which creates a space of about 2-3 inches between the buckets where excess water is captured.
A small piece of PVC pipe (or similar) is placed in the soil as the bucket is filled, allowing for easy watering at the roots of the plant. Excellent tomatoes are just one example of plants that thrive in this environment. The buckets can be easily carried in and out of a greenhouse or back room to keep then indoors on cold nights or when the weather turns foul.
Container (or bucket) gardening may not be for everyone, but it’s a great way to start and learn about soil composition and plant care.
Small Garden Design Ideas: Raised Bed Gardening
This is another extremely popular gardening method that combines traditional “in the earth” gardening with the drainage and soil composition control of container gardening. Raised beds are, for all intents, basically just oversized containers for growing in, really.
Raised beds are also larger, more permanent, and allow for a greater variety of plants. Unless your raised bed is very deep, however, you will not likely be successful growing deep-rooted plants like potatoes, beets, onions, or asparagus. Those will need three or four feet of good soil to do well.
Other plants like tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, lettuce, beans, and more all do very well in raised beds, however. The ability to control the soil composition, drainage, and so forth creates an ideal growing environment that needs only regular water and sun.
Many enthusiasts combine raised beds with square foot gardening. This gardening method maximizes the space available and allows for the careful growing of a lot of plants in a relatively small area. Using this method, a family of four can eat well for a summer from only about 150 square feet of space, if it’s conditioned and organized effectively.
Small Garden Design Ideas: A Small Kitchen Garden
Speaking of small spaces, kitchen gardens are likely the most popular garden type in North America and Europe. These gardens are relatively small, but provide abundant spices, herbs, and specialty favorites for the family. Most kitchen gardens are grown in a combination of raised beds and containers with some utilizing small areas separated from the yard (lawn) or built into window sills.
Whatever your garden style of choice, be sure that you have adequate time, energy, and access to water and other needs to keep the garden in good condition. Most gardens require only a little time, some water, and patience to grow well.
Resources for small garden designs: