As any true green thumb will tell you, there’s more to gardening than grubby hands, sore knees and sunburnt shoulders. Not only can a home garden provide you with a bountiful (and cost-effective) supply of fresh fruit, vegies and herbs, even the smallest green space has the potential to improve surrounding air quality, increase concentration levels and promote a sense of peace and tranquillity amidst the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives. So even if you are stretched for square footage, why not think big for your small space this spring? Growing your own little slice of the great outdoors might be easier than you think:
Living on the Ledge
With more and more of us living the high life in urban apartments, balcony and rooftop gardens are an increasingly popular way to bring the outdoors for many Australians this spring. Before you get stuck in, it’s important to ensure your plants will get the best of what Mother Nature has to offer by maximising the amount of natural light that filters in and controlling any damage associated with harsh winds.
It’s important to remember that your little garden-to-be will likely get light from only one direction. If your balcony happens to face north or north-east, you’re walking on sunshine: the greatest variety of plants, including herbs, fruits, flowers, and succulents will thrive in a sun-drenched environment that this aspect allows for most of the day. East-facing balconies/ledges on the other hand will experience the best of the morning light, but will likely be shady for the rest of the day. South-facing balconies tend to be shady until mid summer, when hot bursts of afternoon sun will stream in, and while west-facing apartment dwellers enjoy the glow of a sunset, they’ll experience the worst of our glaring summer heat. Regardless of their aspect, balconies and rooftops with deep overhanging rooves are best treated as shaded: it’s wise to choose plants that are suited to a cushy indoors lifestyle.
With height comes exposure, so consider the amount of wind that will pass over your garden and the natural elements it carries with it, such as salt from neighbouring seas. It’s important to water regularly and choose heavy glazed pots to prevent your plants and their soils from drying out, and anchor your plants with heavy stones and pebbles to prevent debris from blowing away.
Where there’s a wall, there’s a way.
No space? No worries. Get creative when positioning your plants and make the most of what’s already around you:
Inner city living means building up rather than out, so vertical gardens are an ingenious solution for apartment dwellers to enjoy the benefits of a garden without compromising precious square footage. Beyond the traditional trellis and creeper, think tiered, stacked, shelved, and hung arrangements: used wine boxes, old guttering, charming old pots and pans, even shipping palettes tipped on their sides create a rustic, arty home for your plants, all without the waste.
Quaint, charming and oh so practical, house and apartment dwellers alike can’t go past a window planter garden or shelf-garden. When positioned in adequate sunlight, window boxes make for an attractive, accessible display particularly for smaller plants such as herbs or flowers – all within arm’s reach. Why not put railings to work and free up that floor space by hanging a variety of baskets, too: not only will you enjoy increased privacy, but you’ll ensure your plants receive adequate drainage and access to the best levels of sunlight. Just remember to watch your head!
A great benefit of keeping your plants mobile is that you’re able to reposition them easily to make the most of the natural light that reaches your little garden from season to season, and can even move a few indoors during spurts of harsh weather. As with all potted plants (succulents aside), it’s important to water and fertilize regularly to ensure they receive the nutrients they’d otherwise receive living closer to the ground.
The great indoors:
Who said you can’t experience the beauty of the great outdoors whilst staying comfortably in? With careful consideration and a bit of planning you can transform your home into a lush oasis all year-round.
If you think indoor plants live fast and die young, think again. You’d be surprised just how many plants can survive, if not thrive, indoors. Peace lilys are perfect for apartment dwelling, given their preference for low light levels and low humidity, and, if you’ve spent any time in a hip café or homew are store, you’d be sure to notice that terrariums are experiencing something of a revival. DIY terrarium kits can be found at most hardware stores, or even ready to go at your local homeware/gift store.
For those of us whose green thumbs are a little more on the brown side, low-maintenance succulents are a perfect way to enjoy the look and charm of indoor plants without the fuss. Thanks to their need for minimal watering, your indoor plant will be happy to soak up the rays while you’re at work – just remember to keep them in a sunny spot and, for the pricklier varieties, away from any unsuspecting little hands or paws.
Spring has well and truly sprung, so now’s the time to get stuck in and grow your own little backyard oasis. For more tips on getting the most out of your property this spring, visit our website http://www.infolio.com.au/renovate/ or give Infolio a bell today!