Gardening in Small Spaces

Years ago, I lived in an apartment with no yard. I stuck a few herbs on a sunny windowsill and planted some tomato plants in a container outside my kitchen door. I discovered that a garden can be as simple as merely collecting a few pots, adding some nutrients to the soil, setting out as many plants as your space can contain, and tending them as they grow. 

Now that I have a large yard and several perennial beds to work with, I have found that container gardening is a great way to add splashes of color to hard-to-plant places, grow a few patio tomatoes, or keep invasive plants from taking over the yard. One of the best parts is that you can use any container; you aren’t limited to the pots you find in a store. I’ve seen old pottery, buckets, wagons, and more used to hold plants. 

After discovering gardening last year, many people want to know more about growing vegetables, flowers, and herbs. Some don’t have much yard, if any, and desire to learn how to raise and nurture plants with little or no outdoor ground. A few want to add more to what they started last year. 

Growing plants in small spaces, however, can have its own challenges. For some good practices, here are some resources with tips on the best containers, plant choices, light requirements, and plant care that will help you make the most of your gardening time and budget. 

One way to get ideas as you plan is to look at magazines with gardening advice. Garden Gate, Country Living, and Amateur Gardening are three among many with good articles on planning and planting in containers. Our collection of digital magazines not only includes monthly issues but also special editions such as Gardens Illustrated: Pots of Style, Small Gardens, Balconies & Courtyards, and Gardening the Easy Way.

If you are interested in learning more in-depth knowledge, try one of the gardening classes in the Universal Class database. A few of the courses offered are Introduction to Gardening, Vegetable Gardening 101, and All About Herbs

The Virginia Cooperative Extension's Master Gardeners gave a series of short gardening talks in our weekly Lunch and Learn classes. Check out Planning Your Garden, Seed Starters, and Fertilizers, Pests, and Growing Conditions

The library also has an extensive collection of gardening books, many of which focus entirely on container and small-space gardens. One I particularly like is Container Gardener's Handbook.

A selection of other books and resources are included in this list:

CRRL My Librarian: Gardening in Small Spaces

Books and resources to help you plant a garden no matter how big or small your space is.

These 41 projects for container planting will enhance your home and garden.

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With just a little time and effort, you can learn how to use various pots and small bits of earth to turn your home, however tiny, into a place of lush colors, delicious tastes, and lovely smells.