If you want to add a little green to your home — whether it’s green for nature’s sake or green because you like the idea of growing food — you don’t need a lot of space to do it. Here are some suggestions to add a little plant life to your home or office, no matter what size it is.
#10 Start Small
If you have a small space, it’s even more important that you start off small. One plant, maybe two, remember to take care of them!)
Don’t expect to be a master gardener or a green thumb overnight. Pick something that’s difficult to kill and thrives easily, and go from there. If you want to grow food, try these vegetables that are easy for beginners to grow. If you have pets, take special care to choose something robust, but also pet-friendly.
#9 Add Plants to Often Overlooked Places
One of the biggest ways to make an impact with a small amount of space and not a ton of greenery is to use spaces that you traditionally wouldn’t consider for your garden. Windowsills and fire escapes are common (if not always code) in the city, but consider your bathroom, which is actually a perfect habitat for some types of plants. If it doesn’t feel like you have room or space for them in there, these DIY suction caddies can give you a little room on the bathroom walls (or really, any walls,) and those bathroom-friendly plants can clean the air and soak up the humidity while you shower and bathe. Bonus: you won’t need to remember to water them as often as others.
#8 Choose Plants Perfect for Whatever Light Level You Have
You don’t need to have glorious, south-facing windows that get light from sunup to sunset to have happy, healthy plants. Some plants definitely love the light, but others thrive in the shade or even in dimmer, indirect sun, so your first task — especially if you’re trying to save space and buy just the right plants — is to figure out what kind of light your space offers and buy the right kind of plants accordingly.
We have tips for sunny and shady spaces, and even if you’re worried you don’t get any light at all, maybe these DIY LED “light spikes” will do the trick to give your leafy friends that extra oomph.
#7 Build Multi-Tiered, Space-Saving Planters
Small spaces demand small-space planting solutions, and a pot in a corner stuffed to the corners with plants isn’t a good one. Not only will the plants in the pot not be happy (and have no room to grow), you can do much better with a little effort.
Consider multi-tiered planters, like this one made from two or three pots built on top of one another, or these small IKEA CD rack planting boxes that are easy to stack. You could even turn some old tea tins into space-saving planters for herbs — just make sure you cut some holes in the bottom so the roots can drain.
#6 Use Your Outdoor Spaces Wisely
If you have some outdoor space to use as part of your garden — even if it’s just a Juliet balcony in the city or a tiny windowsill, you can use it to your growing advantage. A little space and some elbow grease is all it takes for these Earthbox-style planting boxes, or for this square-foot garden, which can grow a lot in a small part of the yard, or even on a communal roof.
This four square-foot version can even grow potatoes, but you could grow potatos in a sack and some soil if you wanted to. Don’t have much of a yard? Slap one of these on the wall outside your window and you’ll be good to go.
#5 Try Unconventional Growing Spaces
Speaking of using the walls, don’t underestimate the utility of unconventional growing spaces like those walls. There are plenty of other growing projects that let you use spaces like your balcony walls, or even these creative “gutter gardens” that stick to the side of your house or building, and even look lovely.
If you have a fence or gate around or near your home or yard, even that can be a good-looking place to grow something beautiful, whether it’s just something to look at and care for in your free time, or even something you can eat from like berries or herbs. You could even turn to your window as a creative urban growing space. Hell, some people have even planted gardens right in concrete, and surprisingly, it works well.
#4 Grow Something that will Flourish All Year Long
For the biggest bang for your growing buck, you don’t want to deal in plants that just flower in the spring and early summer, and then require a ton of re-work in the winter. Indoors or outdoors, you want plants that you can keep happy year round, or at least nuture in the spring and summer and go dormant in the fall and winter. Pick plants that will do well at any time of year, and then determine whether they’re as much or as little effort as you’d like to put into them.
You can even consider this chart for plants that will grow well together. This is less of a concern if you keep your plants inside, but it’s good research to do anyway. If you really want something low maintenance, consider a terrarium, which is easy to set up, and requires very little maintenance after it’s off and growing on its own. You can even grow one in a light bulb or a wine bottle.
#3 Choose Plants that “Earn Their Space”
Plants that “earn their space” are plants that give you some tangible benefit that makes them well worth the area in your home they occupy. Even if you just love the leafy companionship, or love the sight of some green in your home, a plant that cleans the air nicely, or smells lovely, can replace air fresheners or purifiers (to some degree, anyway.)
Air cleaning plants come big and small, from trees you can keep in the corner to desktop buddies, and some small flowering plants can keep your space smelling lovely without a whole lot of effort. Of course, plants that grow food, like fresh herbs, fruits like tomatoes and squash or zucchini, and vegetables like lettuce and other leafy greens, also earn their space pretty nicely — they give you free food!
#2 Put Your Plants In Your Furniture, Not On It
If you are DIY-inclined and willing to get your hands dirty (and we don’t mean with soil, although that will come later), maybe build your plants into your furniture to save even more space and bring some greenery into your home. This IKEA hack gives a LACK table an inset planter, and while this picnic table project adds a sunken cooler to the center, you can easily do the same to add some plants — especially some herbs you can then use with your food.
#1 Grow Up, Not Out
The cardinal rule of doing anything in small spaces is to use your vertical space as much as possible. It’s typically unused, and we have an instinct to look only at our floor space for our expansion plans. We’ve highlighted tons of vertical planting projects, too, including this wall-hanging plant holder, this bamboo vertical planter that can go just about anywhere, this vertical garden (and others like it), and even these upside down planters you can hang anywhere. You can even turn an old — or affordable — shoe organiser into a vertical garden.
Bottom line, as long as you’re willing to use as much vertical space as possible, you can have your plants and eat — or enjoy — them too, without taking up tons of precious space.