There has never been more demand for urban living. Condominium towers, apartment buildings, and townhouses are being built in Canada’s largest cities at an unprecedented rate. But just because the urban jungle is growing more dense, it doesn’t mean these city slickers have to give up the chance of exercising their green thumbs.
“A city’s streetscape shouldn’t be all cobblestones and asphalt,” says celebrity garden expert Mark Cullen. “No matter the size, there is always space to add some green and a splash of colour – maybe even incorporate some fruits and vegetables to take local eating to a new level.”
Cullen offers the following suggestions for condo owners and young millennials to make the most of their small patio spaces, balconies and front yards:
• Containers. Absent a large yard with space for a garden bed, containers, planters and pots are a fantastic way to bring gardening to a small space. Whether you want to add some colour with some annuals, grow some fragrant herbs or try your hand at vegetables and fruits, a container garden can meet your needs. They are also portable, so you can move them around or even bring them inside during the colder months. If you are reusing a container, remember to remove last year’s soil.
• Soil. Décor and landscaping are important, but when it comes to growing plants and flowers, it all starts with the soil you choose. But just any dirt will do. Specially formulated garden soils are a healthy blend of peat and compost that foster strong roots and good growth throughout the season.
• Plants. Your small space garden does not need to be restricted to just a collection of annuals. Balcony vegetable gardens are growing in popularity. Tomatoes, beans, lettuce, peppers, radishes, carrots – you can grow your own salad right outside your patio door. Sow many veggies directly into the soil for a great crop of veggies!
• Fountains. Water features are very trendy right now. But even if you don’t have the space for a pool or a pond, you don’t have to miss out on the relaxing trickle of water with a fountain. They make a great centerpiece, add a sense of Zen to your space and are a key feature in any garden designed to attract pollinators.
• Furniture. Tight quarters or not, you will need a place to sit, relax and even entertain. A bistro set is perfect for a small space. Or go for a lounge chair where you can kick back with a good book and a cold drink and get away from the world.
• Tools. Small space gardens and containers don’t require the same equipment as someone cultivating a more substantial plot. A multi-purpose mini-garden hoe will not only help you turn and aerate your soil, it can also be used to dig furrows for your seed and weed out any unwanted creepers that appear. Weeders, cultivators and trowels are also available with small handles, making them easier to navigate in small spaces.