Although we dream of having a home on acreage with animals, big gardens, and plenty of room for our littles to play and roam, we currently live in a home with a smaller sized backyard. We are working toward our goal of land, but in the meantime, I am a big believer in finding contentment, gratitude, and happiness where we are, right here, right now.
I have had a garden in this home now for nearly a decade and have not let the small size prevent us from having a peaceful and plentiful outdoor space. I have a real passion for gardening, and thought it would be fun to share 10 of my best tips for gardening in small spaces.
Here are a few of my favorite tips to for gardening in small spaces.
1. Stop fighting with your yard. I know this sounds funny, but for years I had a garden in the place where we have our current swingset. I was constantly fighting to make it work, and was struggling to produce a yield due to the shade from a neighbor’s tree. Finally, after a couple of years, I decided to move my garden to a different spot in the yard and it has thrived ever since. I have decided that no matter how hard I try, or how much I wish for it, my yard is what it is and I need to embrace it and create the best I can with it.
2. Build a garden box that best works for your space. I dream of having a beautiful, huge garden with many tall, raised beds but that isn’t what was the most practical in my small yard. Instead, I custom built a very easy and cost effective box (see tutorial here) that produces the highest yield possible in our space. It is bigger than most boxes, but it works for us.
3. When you don’t have enough space to grow out, grow up! I was determined to have pumpkins in my little garden. I LOVE pumpkins, but I knew because of how big the vines grow, that if I didn’t think of an alternate solution, it would be the only thing that would fit in my garden. Since I still wanted to have everything else I normally grow (especially tomatoes!!), I concocted a plan to grow the vines up and over the fence using basic wire fencing arched over and attached to the fence. I did it this way for the first couple of years, but ended up building a sturdier one using wooden poles, fencing and zip ties. This helped to support the weight of the pumpkins. In order to train vines, I use strips of pantyhose to attach them to the fencing. When the vegetable gets too heavy, I also support them with panty hose or netting. I also grow different kinds of pumpkins, cucumbers, lemon cucumbers, spaghetti squash, small watermelons, cantaloupe, and more this way.
4. Use the space you have. I plant vegetables alongside my flowers in various beds. Cabbage, herbs, and especially zucchini or yellow squash. I even grow them in beds in the front yard. My kids love being able to harvest zucchini every day, so I always try to plant more than one around our yard.
5. Use your patio space. There are so many plants you can grow on the patio. I always plant herbs on the patio and have hanging baskets (see herb box here and free DIY markers here). Sometimes I grow potted hot chili peppers for my hubby. Many people plant tomatoes and more. I also add color and flowers to my window boxes (see how to build an easy window box here).
6. I have created different zones in my small yard and it actually functions very well for our family. Garden, patio, play area adjacent to the largest expanse of grass, and my she shed (see She Shed here). Our yard is mostly U shaped, with our side yard having the largest area so that is where we have the kids playset, small trampoline, and sandbox that my hubby built into the corner.
7. Add furniture to the patio that will best suit your family’s lifestyle. I had wanted a sectional out on our patio for years, but thought that we wouldn’t have the space for that AND a table (which was more of a need than a want). I measured, and measured and made them both work even on a small patio! It turns out that we use both a ton. With enough rearranging, we were able to make it very functional. You can find our table and benches HERE and a very similar sectional HERE (affiliate links).
8. Consider lighting. I wanted us to be able to sit outside after our kids were in bed and enjoy our patio, or even be able to entertain into the evening. I bought these awesome patio lights from Costco and they have held up so well. We put them up 3 or 4 years ago and I am just now needing to replace some of the bulbs. I have them on a timer and they come on every night- so every night for 3 or 4 years isn’t bad! I see and enjoy the twinkling lights and pretty patio from the inside of the house every night as well. It makes our home almost feel bigger.
9. Consider functionality. This goes along with the furniture, but one thing that is an absolute must on our patio is our smoker. My hubby is the best barbecuer that I know and it is perfect for our family to have a way of cooking outdoors in the summer.
10. Keep a Journal and test for what works. Each year I grow my old faithfuls- the plants and flowers around the yard that work well. I add new things that I want to try and omit the things that didn’t work well the year before. Then I will evaluate what worked (what I loved) from those things that I tried and add them to next year’s list. Up until now, I have kept track of all of this in my head, but I am determined to write it all down and start journaling it this year. I might share a printable for that if there is interest.
Well, those are my best 10 tips for small space gardening. Really, many of those tips that would do well in any space. Do you have a small yard? What would you add to this list?
I hope you get a chance to visit these friends’ beautiful outdoor spaces for plenty of gorgeous inspiration: