Tag Archives: gardening

Make Room for Spring

Tomorrow is the first day of spring but it already feels like summer here in Louisville, where the temperature has been in the 80’s almost every day for the last week. Homeowners in my neighbourhood have been scrambling to start their backyard gardens, while apartment dwellers like me look on in envy.

Pretty spring flowers in this container garden

(Photo: Krizza Homes)

However, no matter how limited your space is, you have room for a container garden. I’m already eyeing my shared balcony to figure out how many pots of vegetables, herbs, and flowers I can have and still be able to get up and down our stairs.

wash basin planter with legs on castors (Photo: Houzz via Pinterest)

One of the best things about this type of gardening is that you can really think outside the box when it comes to what you put your plants in. Just about anything can be repurposed as a planter, so you can use them to emphasize your home’s style, or inject your own style into a less-than-great space. Brian Patrick Flynn has an excellent tutorial on his website to design a tub planter that work with either vintage or modern décor and can be wheeled inside when the weather gets too cold for the plants.

By grouping these square planters you up the visual interest(Photo: Apartment Therapy)

If you are using more ordinary materials, consider grouping them to have greater visual impact, like this large-scale planter of cinder blocks.  The key to this planter is the variations in height and depth, as well as the different coloured plants, which is something to take into consideration when planning your containers.

This planter doubles as a water feature(Photo: Silive)

You don’t have to limit yourself to standard garden plants; container gardens make excellent water features as well. These plants look exotic but are actually easy to maintain, if you follow Fine Gardening’s instructions on plant choice, placement, and care.

mounted eavestroughs are perfect planters for herb gardens(Photo: Tree Hugger)

If outdoor space really is at a premium, consider using a wall for planting. The small eavestroughs above are perfect for lettuces and herbs but would work equally well with small flowering plants. Lightweight planters can also be hung on the wall, or anything else that can hold enough dirt for the plant’s root system.

Planters for the railing(Photo: Greenbo)

Even if your balcony has no floor or wall space for planters, you can always use the railing. Greenbo’s ingenious design ensures that your planters won’t fall over the side and they come in a dozen fresh colours to help you personalize your space.

Repurposing colourful buckets as indoor planters(Photo: Urban Garden Casual)

Don’t despair if you have no outdoor space: small containers can work indoors too.  I’m considering borrowing this idea from Urban Garden Casual for my kitchen window. Small containers can work even if you don’t have the window space to spare; just make sure to consult your local garden specialist for plants that will thrive in shade.

vintage Twinning tea  containers make excellent planters(Photo: American Girl in Canada)

If you, like me, are a bit of a hoarder collector you can use this to your advantage. Vintage tins, pretty tea cups, and mismatched glasses make excellent herb pots which will perk up both your kitchen decor and your cooking.

Consider container gardening(Photo: Container Gardening For You)

You might want to wait a few weeks to begin planting but now is a great time to start figuring out what you will use for planters. While I’m spring-cleaning I will have my eye out for that special container to house my spring veggies and pretty posies. What have you been inspired to use?

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Garden Design Simplified

Garden Designed by Philip Nixon via design milk

Garden design is about more then choosing the right plants and a couple pieces of garden furniture. Many of today’s gardens are examples of harmony, balance and a blending of the elements.  Doing an entire landscaping overhaul can be a daunting task but here are a few ways to translate the garden of your dreams into something easily accomplished in any outdoor space.


estate gardens

Dream Life: A cascading waterfall of crystal clear pools, flowers and grasses; ideal for a modern hillside home overlooking the ocean. The sound of softly trickling water can add peace and tranquility to even the most hectic urban backyard. The added benefit of adding a water feature to your garden is that it can also attract butterflies and birds.

Real life: Build a man made pond or use an existing water feature and create a mini waterfall using overturned planters and clear plastic hosing. Another option is making your own fountain like the clever folks at sunset.com have done. This one would be a cinch to put together.

Zen Sanctuary

inspire home magazine

Dream Life: A sprawling zen garden of tranquil pebbles, simply shaped plants and plenty of peaceful spots for meditation. This raked garden above is a stunning combination of natural rock and Japanese greenery.

via shelterness

Real Life: Achieve the same look in a corner of your garden or even on your balcony. Use stone benches, light coloured pebbles and Japanese plants to create a private zen sanctuary. The balcony garden above is so peaceful and serene, showing what you can accomplish on a very small scale.

Secret Garden

Waterperry Gardens

Dream Life: Okay, I suppose it’s time I come clean. I’ve never actually read The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, but I think I did see one of the film adaptations. Nevertheless, there is something I find enchanting about the idea of stepping through a doorway to a cobblestone walkway lined with flowers and draping wisteria overhead leading to the perfect romantic bench.

via pottery barn

Real Life: Divide off a section of your garden with a simple archway and plant climbing flowers or vines around it. Add a wicker or wire bench in a shaded area and you have a semi-private place to relax and enjoy your surroundings.

These are just a few approaches you can take to designing your garden, but there are plenty of fabulous examples out there in a wide variety of styles. Just remember, even the most lavish gardens can be the inspiration for your next weekend gardening project.

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Urban Gardening 2 – Container Gardening

life on the balcony via apartment therapy

It’s time for part two of our urban gardener series. This time we’ll be having a look at container gardening. For many of us who don’t have much growing space but who still want to exercise our green thumb, planting in containers can be a great option. The best thing about this type of gardening is that it really encourages you to be creative; no type of container, space or plant is off limits, you can even grow vegetables!

Shoe Organizer Planter via instructables

Go Vertical

You don’t need a massive plot of land in order to have a garden. Why not grow up? The pallet garden (pictured at top) and the pocket garden, ingeniously made out of a shoe organizer (pictured above,) allow you to grow a number of plants in a small amount of space. Both projects have DIY instructions that can be found here and here.  You can even hang one on your balcony if you live in an apartment or condo.


Think Unexpected

This take on the window box is perfectly charming and could be recreated using any vintage tins. I’ve also seen tea pots, rubber boots, vintage toolboxes and even an old barbecue used as planters. Just make sure to poke holes in the bottom of any container you use to allow for adequate drainage.

Design Night via botanesque

Garden with Style

With the unlimited options of containers available it shouldn’t be difficult to find one that matches your outdoor decorating style. The modern planters above are a take on the classic terracotta strawberry pot. One of these planters would be right at home on even the ritziest penthouse balcony. At $375 US they’re not cheap, but they sure are pretty.


Container Gardening Basics

High quality soil is the key for successful container gardening. Look for professional grade soil, and if you are planning on growing edibles I recommend sourcing out organic soil.

Choose plants that thrive in similar conditions, this means keeping plants that require frequent watering together or shade loving plants in the same container.

Don’t overcrowd. You want your planters to be full but not so full that plants are competing for space. The number of plants you can use will vary depending on the size of the container.

If your container does not have holes in the bottom, drill holes ½ inch apart and line the bottom of your pot with newspaper to prevent soil from escaping.

To retain moisture spread a layer of mulch on top, and you can also mix in some slow release fertilizer.

The amount you will need to water will vary depending on how hot and windy it is outside. Check your soil in the mornings and evenings to see if it has become too dry.

How To Start Seeds Inside

This is part one of the Urban Gardener Series.

Photo by Stokes Seeds

Spring is here and it’s time to start thinking ahead to gardening season. Starting seeds indoors is an easy and fun project that even a novice gardener will have no problem tackling. First you have to set up an indoor greenhouse, which sounds more intimidating than it is. Basically you need some good seed starting soil, seeds, a light source (this could be a lighting system or just a window), water and some sort of enclosure to keep the moisture in. In the past I’ve just used a narrow tray on a windowsill with a plastic cover, but if you don’t have access to an abundance of natural light you can buy a mini greenhouse with lights at your local hardware store.

seed starting trays by andrewsreclaimed on Etsy

Seed Selection

I really like ordering seeds from Urban Garden. They have a great selection of heirloom veggies, herbs and flowers and all their seeds are certified organic. The number of plants you’ll want to start depends on the amount of outdoor space you have for planting. I only have a small deck garden, so I usually stick with planting a variety of herbs, a salad mix, cherry tomatoes and maybe a summer squash or peppers.

How cool are these seed bombs from Etsy seller visualingual. Designed with Guerilla gardening in mind each bag comes with five gumball-sized balls of seeds. Just throw and grow!

Know Your Zone

When to start your seeds will depend on which part of the world you live in. Here’s a North American Zone Map but most gardening books and websites can give you a more detailed zone guide for your area.

Make Your Own Earth-Friendly Seedling Pots

Commercial seed starting pots are typically made from plastic or peat but you can easily make your own using toilet paper tubes or old newspaper.

Toilet Paper Tube Method

Take a cardboard toilet paper tube and make a series of cuts at one end about an inch deep and half an inch apart. Fold the cut ends towards the centre of the tube creating a bottom for your pot. Fill with soil and plant your seeds according to package directions and place them in a tray. It’s as easy as that! If you are having trouble getting them to stand up you can tie them together in bunches with twine.

Newspaper Method

Take five or six sheets of newspaper and lay them flat on an even work surface. Cut the newspaper horizontally into six inch wide strips. Take a strip of stacked paper and wrap it around a wine bottle or a glass. Use a piece of tape to keep your tube shape in place and remove it from the bottle or glass. Carefully fold the first couple inches of one end in towards the centre making a bottom. Voila! You have a plant pot ready to house your first seedlings.

Gardening Gloves by Ethel Gloves

Is it Worth All the Trouble?

You might be wondering if it’s worth the work and I would say definitely. Seeing your first little sprout poke it’s head out of the ground is amazing, and when it comes time to harvest you will enjoy your bounty much more knowing that you had a direct hand in the whole process. You Grow Girl is a wonderful resource for the novice or more experienced gardener, and you can also find helpful instructions for seed starting there as well as a handy dandy seed starting chart. Life on the Balcony has a ton of great resources too.

No Garden, No Problem

If you don’t have a yard or balcony that doesn’t mean you can’t get your garden on. The AeroGarden lets you grow vegetables and herbs right on your countertop. It looks sleek and futuristic too.

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