Container Gardening for Small Spaces

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“I want to start a garden, but don’t have the space!”, or, “Gardening is too expensive, especially in containers.” Does this sound like you? Do you feel helpless to your garden dreams because you live in a rental, or an apartment? Or maybe you don’t have the equipment or time to dig up a plot of land. What you need is a friend to help you learn the benefits of container gardening. Look no further; I’ll be that friend! Join me today as I talk about how to garden in a small or temporary space. I am going to share loads of inspiring ideas on how to create inexpensive container gardens.

I promise, you’ll be gardening with confidence in no time!A galvanized tub holds chives in bloom with purple flowers. Upcycling materials is essential in learning how to create an inexpensive container garden.

Small Space Gardening Dilemma 

So, you live in a place that doesn’t offer much room for a garden? Or maybe you live in a place that won’t allow you to dig up the yard for a garden. This can be frustrating and feel restricting. Perhaps you want to try out gardening, but don’t want to make a big commitment. I get it!

When I started my very first garden, I was so hesitant to commit to ripping up a huge section of my yard. What if I didn’t like the location? What if I failed at gardening and didn’t want to try ever again? I’d have to look at that huge section of tilled up yard and it would remind me of what a failure I was. 

Back then I didn’t realize I had other options. Growing up, my family staked claim on a plot of land, tilled it up and planted a garden. It was as simple as that. They didn’t wonder about the perfect location or how pretty it was going to look. It served its purpose- to feed our family. 

But we live in different times, don’t we? Not only does a garden have to feed our family, but it has to look pretty, with a convenient location and have the option to move it, if ever needed. 

Boy do I have some exciting solutions for you! Come along as I teach you the benefits of container gardening for small spaces.

Benefits of Container Gardening

What exactly is container gardening? Simply put, it’s any object that can be used to grow plants in, instead of planting them in the ground.

There are numerous benefits of container gardening. Not only can you personalize the look of your garden with the container you pick, but it’s also mobile. This makes it especially practical if you have a storm coming and need to protect your plants. It also makes temporary gardening possible. 

Container gardening is one of the most effective forms of temporary gardening. If you are brand new to gardening and unsure if it’s truly for you, I would highly recommend container gardening.

Another benefit of container gardening is that it can be done in a small space. If all you’re working with is a balcony or patio, no problem! Pots can be placed on the deck top, elevated on a bench or table and hung from the railing. 

Vintage tin coffee and nut containers sit on a floor.
Using vintage food tins are an inexpensive way to start a small container garden.

And last, this is the best, in my opinion: hardly any weeding! Because most of the container is taken up with the flowers or edible plants you planted, there is hardly room for weeds to grow. Hallelujah!

Creative Containers for Small Space Gardening 

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I live on a 25 acre farm and I have many, many options to plant sprawling gardens. Container gardening for small spaces is not necessarily my problem. But guess what? In-ground gardening takes a lot of work and time to till land and keep it weeded! For these reasons, I utilize the benefits of container gardening. In fact, most of the herbs I grow that feed my family of five all year come from container gardens.

When most people think of container gardening, they shut it right down because of the expense. I mean, seriously, have you seen the price on plastic flower pots? I’d be afraid too! But if you can think outside of the plastic pot, it will really open your eyes to an endless possibility of planting options. Let me show you how to create an inexpensive container garden.

Galvanized Buckets

I personally use galvanized buckets to grow most of my herbs in. An old wash tub grows chives, while another grows sage. Two smaller pails hold parsley.

In addition, two galvanized wash tubs hold annual flowers, while an old galvanized ash bucket grows ornamental grasses. Most of the buckets I use were free, dented and had holes in the bottoms. Inexpensive containers are perfect for container gardening!

Galvanized tubs hold sage and parsley.
Found galvanized tubs and pails make inexpensive contaner gardens.

Enamel Dishes

Two red and white vintage enamel pots sit on a bed of rocks in front of a red barn wall. Using materials you already have will not only help you learn how to create an inexpensive container garden, but will also help you learn how to garden in a small space.
Last year’s enamel pots wait patiently for this year’s flowers.

In front of my barn, I have a red and white enamel pot. I’m sure it was once used to cook lovely meals for an equally lovely family. When I found this pot (for free) it was laden with holes in the bottom. Learning how to container garden in a small space is made easier with the versatility enamel dishes and pots offer. Because they come in various shapes and sizes, the unique selection offers many options to create an inexpensive container garden.

Metal Animal Feeders 

If you live on a farm or know someone who does, chances are you have roached metal feeders or vessels that once held water. Things like a galvanized chicken waterer, chicken feeders, rabbit feeders or even pig troughs all make wonderful vessels to grow plants in. Rabbit feeders and some chicken feeders are especially good options for small space container gardening. They can be hung on a fence or the side of a house or shed. 

Wood Boxes

Old wood shipping or packaging boxes not only make a visually interesting container garden, but they are a practical vessel to plant edibles in. Because most wood boxes are square or rectangle, they utilize their space most efficiently when container gardening in a small space.

A wood box sits on a white wicker table on a porch. With square edges, wood boxes maximize the space they are put in, making this one of many benefits of container gardening.
An old wood box holds late summer marigolds and is a practical option for gardening in a small space.

Sturdy Feed Bags

Growing bags are becoming wildly popular and for good reason. They hardly take up any room and most of them have handles, making them easier to move. THESE BAGS hold 5 gallons of dirt and plants, have handles and are inexpensive. 

Alternatively, if you don’t need handles, an old feed bag, plastic or burlap, would work just as well. Simply roll the top of the bag down halfway and fill with soil. 

Use Your Imagination

Things like old crocks, vintage tins that once held tobacco or coffee and worn work boots are all practical and inexpensive planting vessels for container gardening. Old wood berry boxes and even vintage aluminum pots and pans are great choices!

Tips for Container Gardening Success

Now that you have found the perfect container to house your plants in, you should know a few things for planting and growing success.

  • Be sure to drill several holes in the bottom of any container you plan to garden in. This will allow for proper drainage.
  • Additionally, adding rocks to the bottom of the container will allow for optimal drainage.
  • If the container you are using is too deep, save your money on filling it unnecessarily with potting soil, and instead fill it part of the way with old newspaper and cardboard.
  • If the vessel you are using has large holes or gaps where soil will fall through, line the inside of the vessel with landscape fabric and staple in place.
  • Alternatively, depending on the size of your vessel, a zip-top bag will work just as well. Simple cut the top and sides off of the bag and staple to the inside of the container. Be sure to poke a few holes in the bag for drainage.
  • Container gardens dry out quicker than in-ground gardens. Water them more frequently.

Worried About Your Container Garden Looking Trashy?

If you have read this article in its entirety, you may be thinking that I am slightly crazy with some of my container suggestions. Old boots?! Enamel pots? You’re probably thinking your container garden will have your yard or patio looking like a dump in no time. And to be honest, it can…If you simply line all of your containers up in a row.  Below, I am going to share tips on how to display your containers to take them from trashy to impressive.

  • Elevate some of your containers. Using a bench, a chair or even a small table, elevate a couple of your containers.
  • Group containers together. Grouping three containers of different sizes will look better than four containers of the same size. 
  • Use your corners. Have an odd or unused corner on your patio? Elevate one of your containers on a small table. Then place other, smaller, containers in front of the table.
  • Decorate your space. Don’t be afraid to add decorations to your container garden area. Things like small birdhouses or signs tucked in with your containers will add visual interest. If you are using an old pair of boots, put them on a tray or a small shutter. Doing this will give them a more purposeful look.
  • Decorate your containers. Want to know how to create an inexpensive container garden with a personal touch? Giving a container a fresh coat of paint, tying a ribbon around it, or stenciling a word on the front are all great ways to personalize your container.

    A dormant blueberry plant is in a crock with a pick that reads, 'grow dammit'. If you use vessels you already have, learning how to create an inexpensive container garden will be easy and you will quickly learn the benefits of container gardening.
    Adding a ribbon and a fun, homemade plant pick is a quick way to dress up an old crock that holds a dormant blueberry plant.

Looking for More Garden Resources?

  • Thinking of Raised Bed Gardening? Before you spend the time and money, I urge you to check out THIS post that outlines the pros and cons of raised bed gardening. After reading this, you may decide that learning how to create an inexpensive container garden is more worth your time. 
  • Just in time for growing season, THIS popular post gives you all of the insider information on How To Grow and Use Chamomile!A pinnabe image about container gardening that includes the benefits of container gardening, how to garden in a small space and how to create an inexpensive container garden.


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