Being an avid gardener is tough when you live in apartments in the city. Apartment gardening involves a lot of unique challenges, from finding the right space to dealing with neighbors.
We wanted to share some of our tips that we’ve learned over the years of gardening in very limited spaces.
This is almost always the biggest challenge. Most landlords aren’t too keen on you tearing up a shared lawn to put in raised beds. In previous apartments, we’ve done our best to work with window planters, or stuffing some herbs and root vegetables into existing flower beds. But none of that was ideal.
One of the things that we decided to look for last time we moved was an apartment with a dedicated space (however small) that we could use for gardening. We were lucky to find a building with some unused flower beds right outside of the windows. The landlord actually appreciated tenants who wanted to use that space as a garden, since it saved them the effort of having to keep weeds at bay.
If there’s an unused or overgrown flower bed or area of a shared lawn, it never hurts to ask if you could clean it up to use as a garden.
Plan Your Apartment Garden Layout
You’d think with such a small space to work with, there wouldn’t be too much planning. But it’s actually the complete opposite. Limited space and planting options mean that you need to use your space wisely to get the most out of it.
Learn the light conditions of your space. Know exactly which areas get full sun and which are shaded. Pay attention to things like whether or not there are sprinklers, or whether other people use the space you’re considering.
In an apartment, you won’t have control over things like when the sprinklers come on, or whether your neighbors let their dogs roam free where you intend to plant your garden. Don’t let that discourage you. Just factor it into your planning as you decide which plants you can realistically grow.
Make Friends with the Neighbors
When there are multiple tenants in a building, it’s easy to end up with some friction if someone feels like you’re getting unfair access to more resources than them. Be ready to share your harvest, and offer to share some garden space. It can go a long way to keeping you happily gardening.
Plus, we’re big proponents of gardening and connecting with nature as tools to bring the community together. Approach your neighbors with the mindset that this isn’t your garden, but rather a community garden that you hope they will share in.
Depending on what sort of space you have, growing in containers may be your only option. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s a ton that you can do with container gardening, and a lot of varieties of plants that are designed to thrive in containers. For example, growing snap peas in containers is easy and rewarding.
Consider Indoor Gardening
You can absolutely grow vegetables indoors. You can’t expect a huge yield, and you will be somewhat limited in the types of plants you can grow, this is an option that works for any space, and on any budget.
We’ve had great luck growing lettuce, mustard greens, and microgreens indoors with a fairly simple and inexpensive setup. I’ll put up another post shortly with some basics of our setup and some tips on getting started.
For avid gardeners who just don’t have the outdoor space, getting yourself a good indoor growing setup is a rewarding way to dip your toe into apartment gardening. Plus, you can enjoy eating fresh, home-grown food all through the winter.
I love how apartment gardening challenges you to really get to know your space. It takes attention, creativity, and ingenuity to get the most out of limited space. Add in the challenges of not usually being able to build or modify anything (unless you’re lucky enough to get the landlord’s position), and you have to work with a lot of limitations.
Still, the experience of growing your own food is so rewarding that it’s well worth it to power through. Let me know your apartment gardening tips or trick in the comments!