Creating a garden needn’t rely on acres of outside space. Sometimes, creativity and green fingers are enough
Houzz UK Contributor. I have been an interiors journalist since 1995, writing several… More
If your outside space is tiny, tricky or just totally non-existent, you can still find a way to grow a little garden. Forget big shrubs or sculptural trees and think instead about OTT window boxes, clever climbers and lush indoor jungles. Sometimes, simply getting hold of the right planters is enough to unlock the potential for a corner of greenery, while other solutions are more ingenious. Here’s a handful of ripe ideas to try.
Rethink the hanging basket
Much favoured by municipal gardeners for dangling off lamp posts, hanging baskets exist in many other, cooler guises, too! Great for exploiting unused wall space in a small balcony area, a hanging basket can be any shape or size, provided it’s securely supported.
Try an industrial, trough-like design, something like this one, rather than the trad round wire version.
You could even construct your own hanging containers using upcycled cans. Beautiful and economical!
Big up window boxes
Treat window boxes as your own mini garden, filling them with annuals, perennials and herbs for maximum variety and interest all year round.
Choose specimens that are reasonably tall, so you can see and enjoy them from indoors. Plants such as Verbena bonariensis grow on tall, strong stems that won’t block the light, but will bring welcome height to a window box.
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For something big on impact but, perhaps, lower-maintenance, try planting a row of grasses in a window box. Again, you’ll be able to appreciate these from indoors and they create a pleasing green screen that softens an urban view.
Decorate outside as you would in
Instead of trying to grow a garden in a tricky, dark courtyard like this, why not brighten it up with geometric tiles and attractive furniture? Treat the low area outside a basement window as an extension of inside, so it’s pleasant to use and great to look at from within.
Exploit a corner
Build planters into a corner to create a green focal point. Trailing plants help obscure the horizontal lines of the planters and, teamed with smaller specimens, give a lush, abundant feel to this relaxed seating corner.
Here, the homeowners have adapted pallets to make them watertight, then painted them white.
Nurture an indoor garden
Rather than just dotting a few pot plants around, think big and go for an abundant, indoor garden look. Group large houseplants of various sizes and heights together on the floor and use mirrors to max the effect.
Alternatively, take the more is more approach, but use a single piece of furniture, such as a low bench or shelf, to organise your potted plant display. Tuck this under a sunny window and watch your plants thrive.
Introduce climbers inside
What a genius idea! Grow vertical climbing plants indoors, trained up a simple, minimal wire mesh partition. This one flanks stairs, but the idea would work well against a sunny internal wall, too.
…or let trailing plants go wild
Turn the indoor climber idea on its head and encourage trailing plants to really go wild. Let lush growers, like this devil’s ivy, hang down from the highest shelf, giving a jungly vibe to a minimal interior.
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Create an indoor herb garden
Herbs in pots can devour worktop space, so try growing them in a planter on the wall instead. These are widely available in everything from steel and copper to oak. Or you might try creating your own from an upcycled crate.
The bigger you go, or the more you hang, the more garden-like your kitchen will become.
Make use of internal architecture
The low wall that borders these stairs has been designed to hold potted plants. If constructing something like this is too involved or expensive, look for existing features that could become home to a row of plants or a dedicated long planter, such as a windowsill or mantelpiece.
Grow big in the smallest spaces
This idea works well both inside and out. It’s based on the concept that if you use small pieces in a compact space, they will make it look smaller. It’s better to play with scale and fill a tiny area with a few big, bold pieces than clutter it with a lot of mini objects that draw attention to the cramped dimensions.
Here, a comfy sofa and lots of bold, skyward-bound bamboo plants beautifully fill this micro balcony, giving it height, greenery and a comfy place to sit.
Design a lush lightwell
A skinny scrap of a lightwell alongside this London home has been cleverly greened up with tall Japanese maples. They’re vibrant green in summer, but turn yellow in the autumn, and have striking red branches that contrast with the white walls during winter.
The grasses planted around them turn golden and die down, leaving space for fresh spring bulbs and ferns to herald the beginning of a new year.
A clever, additional detail is the metal wall sculpture, which is lit from behind. There are also lights inside the containers that throw shadows across the white brick walls at night.
Do you have any tips for creating a garden when outdoor space is tight or non-existent? Please share them in the Comments below.