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The conventional quarter-acre garden that many Kiwis grew up with is becoming a scarcity.
If you’re living in the inner city, downsizing to a smaller place or moving to a retirement home, you’ll have less outside space in which to grow your favourite plants, so here’s how to make the most of it.
The practical needs of your living arrangements must take precedence. Chairs, a table (dining or coffee height) and sun umbrellas take up a great deal of space at the expense of plants.
So why not look up? Plants may look better displayed vertically, as ground-level pots may be obscured by furniture. Or a compromise might be to use fold-up furniture that can be stacked away until needed.
RAISE YOUR GAME
An easy way to add flowering interest at a height, without encroaching on permanent furniture, includes training plants to climb upwards.
This can mean growing them up walls and trellises, inserting a plant tower or climbing frame into a pot, and growing tall, narrow plants such as conifers or topiaried shapes in pots.
ANALYSE YOUR SITE
Select plants that will cope with the conditions. Balconies in apartment blocks generally enjoy sun for about half the day.
Observe the winter sun aspect before you do your planting – you may need a selection that can tolerate shadier, cool climates for half the year.
Elevated gardens may be exposed to more wind than those on the ground, so pick plants with reasonable wind tolerance.
AIM FOR HARMONY
Be guided by your existing paving or decking materials and don’t try to mix up too many looks in one place. Keep plant pots and outdoor furniture uniform or a similar style to make the place look serene.
A large jar or a small self-contained water feature is a lovely addition in a small space – but choose just one to draw the eye and avoid visual chaos.
Clipped buxus (box) in a container add classic style to any balcony space – for the ultimate in low-maintenance “gardening” fake plants look fabulous!
MAKE IT PRIVATE
You may find that your outdoor area is open to a neighbour’s, or that your ground-floor courtyard is beside a public walkway.
If this is the case, you can plant a slim hedge in a trough for screening. Keep it trimmed regularly.
MAKE MORE SHADE
If you have a pergola, sling wires across it to train ornamental grapes, ivies or a wisteria – though be aware that the latter do best under a dedicated twice-a-year pruning regime, if you don’t want them to take over!
Make sure you have some way to enjoy your garden space after dark. If budget permits, install outdoor bulkhead lights or LED lights on walls.
Direct harsh spotlights can be glaring and too bright for evening ambience. You can also create atmosphere with a hurricane lamp (sealed against the elements) with a large candle inside.
For best results, be strict with maintenance.
Water frequently in summer, and liquid feed weekly to substitute for the nutrients plants would usually get from the soil. And groom religiously.
Small spaces – even tiny ones – can still be rewarding when you have a selection of the plants you love the most growing around you.
– NZ Gardener
Continue reading this article at the original source from Stuff.co.nz
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