Apartment Gardening Is Possible in Even the Smallest Spaces

May 24, 2021

One of the issues many people have with apartment rentals in Northern Colorado is that they don’t offer much space for gardening. While some ground floor apartments do offer small patios, they often are all cement. Upper floor units are typically limited to small balconies. That doesn’t provide much space for gardening.

However, if you look into container gardening and other apartment gardening options, you can still create lush green spaces and grow your own food fairly easily. Here are some great rental-friendly gardening tips for those who live in apartments.

Why Garden in an Apartment?

The first question a lot of people have when it comes to apartment gardening is why? Why try to grow plants and even vegetables in such a small space?

selection of plants growing against a brick wall on an apartment balcony

People often know when signing an apartment lease that they’re not going to have a lot of room. Just because that’s the case, though, doesn’t mean that you can’t add a little greenery to your apartment. Plants bring bright, vivid colors into your home. Many people simply feel a little happier seeing flowers and plants growing around them.

There are other benefits, too. If you’re renting an apartment in northern Colorado, you may find yourself feeling surrounded by cement and metal on all sides. This can affect more than just your view.

Air quality is typically worse in cities due to the amount of traffic and other pollutants that make their way into the air. Plants help reduce the risks of this air pollution by producing oxygen. You may find that you have fewer breathing issues just by adding a few plants to your apartment.

Finally, there are financial benefits to growing vegetables in your apartment. Besides always having some fresh herbs and vegetables available, you also save money at the store.

If you want to focus on eating organic foods, growing your own is the best option. You know exactly what goes into the food you’re eating because it came from your own garden.

Starting Out with an Apartment Garden

If you’re new to living in one of the available apartment rentals in northern Colorado, you’re likely also new to gardening indoors or in small outdoor spaces. The first tip, then, is to start out small.

Don’t buy a lot of pots and planters until you feel comfortable with taking care of plants. If you’re very new to growing plants and flowers, look for something that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance.

plants growing inside of an apartment

Succulents are a good option. They typically don’t need a lot of water or a specific amount of sunlight. Some, such as the aloe, even have medical uses. If you get a burn, just break off a bit of your aloe plant and rub the gel on the burnt area. You’ll quickly feel relief and won’t need to spend money on aloe gel products.

Look at Your Apartment Layout

What parts of your apartment get good sunlight? Take note of when the sun comes in and for how long those areas are in the sun. This information will help you determine what plants will thrive in your apartment.

There are some that don’t need that much light, so you can have them just about anywhere. Those that need direct light for a number of hours every day, though, may need to be carefully placed.

Some rentals do have large windows and excellent lighting, while others may not. You may want to keep this in mind while looking at apartments if you know you’ll want to have indoor plants.

Use Vertical Space

If you have a fairly small apartment, you may not have a lot of space for pots or planters. Thinking vertically will allow you to increase your space.

For example, you may be able to hang some planters from the ceiling or your balcony’s overhang. You could also attach or hang them off the balcony railing. Investing in a stand that has multiple shelves for pots can also expand the amount of space you have for plants.

plants hanging vertically from apartment ceiling

Also consider plants that do well in smaller planters and that grow upwards instead of outwards so you can place them next to each other. If you can attach things to your walls, you can hang some planters on the walls near windows to increase your growing space.

Don’t Forget Your Window Ledges

While they may not be very wide, you can incorporate your window ledges into your indoor apartment garden. There are many planter options that will fit on thin window ledges.

You will need to make sure the plants and vegetables you put in these planters are ones that thrive in direct sunlight, though, because they will likely be getting a lot of it. You will also need to turn the planters every now and then so the plants don’t grow right up against the window.

Have a Watering Schedule

Many people pick one day of the week and always water their plants on that day. This is good if you have plants that don’t require a lot of extra water.

watering plants on a patio

However, you do need to make sure you don’t over-water certain plants. Succulents, as mentioned earlier, don’t require water as often as other plants do. Over-watering can be just as bad as under-watering, so be sure to learn the watering needs of your plants.

One way of keeping up with watering is to use colored stickers on your planters with unique watering instructions. Blue could mean water twice a week, while red could indicate that the plant only needs watering every other week.

What Should You Plant?

Another good tip before you begin your apartment gardening is to think about what you want to grow. Do you want to harvest your own vegetables or herbs? Do you want pops of color around your home, or are you simply looking to bring some nature into the space? Once you have an answer to this question, it’s time to look at what plants work well together.

Some small indoor plants and flowers make for better neighbors than others, so you’ll want to do a little research into what you’re getting. This will also help you group your plants so you know which ones to keep near the windows and which ones you can put elsewhere.

tomatoes growing on the patio of an apartment

If you have a balcony or outdoor space that gets a good amount of sun, you can easily start an outdoor apartment garden and grow tomatoes, lettuce, peas, and other vegetables.

You’ll want to carefully keep an eye on them for pests, but the good news is that vegetables grown on a balcony are less likely to get infected. Pests won’t naturally find their way into your garden like they would if it were on the ground level.

For those without a lot of outdoor space, you can grow herbs indoors very easily. In fact, many people have small herb gardens that take up very little space and don’t need a large amount of attention. These gardens can be a good beginner project once you feel comfortable taking care of plants.

Upgrade Your Pots as Needed

Do you have some flowers, plants, and vegetables that were doing very well but now seem to be failing? The problem could be the size of the pot. As plants grow, their root systems become more complex.

It’s possible that your plants have outgrown the pots they’re currently in. Consider upgrading your pots when you see a large plant start to look a little droopy. You can then reuse the smaller pot for a new plant.

Remember to Check the Humidity

Some plants do much better in high humidity. Unfortunately, due to the cold temperatures in Colorado during the winter, your heater may be running a lot. This dries out the air and your plants. If you have your heat on a lot, you’ll want to spray your plants with a mister on a regular basis.

woman misting plant inside of her apartment

You could also leave a bowl of water near the plants, but that could easily get spilled if you have children or pets. Using a misting bottle and spraying the plants down daily is a much better option, and your plants will thank you for it.

Weight Could be a Factor

If you’re hanging your balcony plants from hooks or off your balcony banister, keep in mind that soil can weigh a lot. This is especially true when you water them. Vegetables also get heavier as they grow.

Make sure your window boxes, hanging planters, and anything else you have attached to the wall, ceiling, or railing can handle up to three times the weight of the plant and soil. You may need to ask the apartment staff or your landlord if there are any specific weight limits you need to know about.

While gardening in your apartment does present some unique challenges, as you can see, it’s not impossible. If you have at least a small amount of space and windows that let in some sunlight, you can start your own apartment garden. If you’ve got a balcony or patio, you can do even more. Don’t let lack of space hold you back!

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