Landscape IDEAS for Small Spaces
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Landscape IDEAS for Small Spaces

  • Small footprints — plants tagged with the labels “dwarf” or “miniature.”
  • Tall silhouettes. Up is the way to go when plotting in feet and not acres. Good choices are container-friendly columnar apple trees or Baptisia australis with spires of violet blue flowers. Another way to get height: a green wall, sometimes known as a vertical of living wall. It’s not only practical, it can be stunningly sculptural.

Plan for your conditions

Sun blocked by tall buildings? Shade-tolerant varieties include:

If your space has a clear sight line to the sun, choose plants like:

More: 10 Foolproof Vegetables for Container Gardens

Recognize your challenges

Rooftops and balconies in high-rise buildings are basically microclimates, buffeted by wind, the radiant heat of concrete, and the shade from neighboring buildings.

Opt for plants known for their hardiness, slow growth, and ability to withstand gusts. The higher the floor, the more wind comes into play in plant selection. Nasturtium and daylilies have flexible stems that sway without breaking. A lattice windbreak adds stylish protection.

Pollution is another issue for urban gardeners. Choose plants with shiny leaves that won’t trap dust:

Save on supplies

Got a budget as small as your space? No problem. No more than $250 is absolutely doable, and covers enough plants for a small space, containers, soil, and basic tools like a hand trowel, pruners, and a hose, says Janine Mudge. She tends a curbside garden outside her Boston brownstone condominium and writes about her hands-in-the-dirt experience on her blog, City Garden Ideas.

Don’t be surprised if you need to set aside part of your budget to replace the occasional plant in street-level plots throughout the season. They’ll take a beating from cars, dogs, and people.