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DIY Garden Ideas for Small Yards and Apartments

Don’t let a tiny space deter you from growing the backyard or balcony garden you’ve always wanted. Whether you're a horticultural hobbyist or your thumb isn't even a little bit green, you can grow a space to be proud of with these cute, easy DIY garden ideas – the secret is to use your limitations to your advantage.

Maximize space with square foot gardening

One way to maximize space is a method known as square foot gardening. The basic concept is to take a raised garden bed and divide it into a grid to create individual squares for planting. The overall bed might be 4' x 4' or 4' x 8', for example, but once the grid is in place, you’re working with orderly 1-foot squares that can be managed individually. The easy setup allows for high yields from a small space, making it an ideal method of gardening on a deck or tiny yard.

Plants growing in a wooden planter.

Simply fill the raised bed with either garden soil or a healthy mixture of peat moss, vermiculite, and compost and you’re ready to start planting. This minimal maintenance style will get even first-time growers harvesting in no time!

You can grow something in just about any green space. Check out this list of 120 cheap gardening ideas for inspiration.

Start with a plan

Ready to get started? It might be helpful to map out your plan on paper. A quick sketch of the space you’re working with will make it easier to visualize where to put the various containers and raised beds, as well as allow you to move things around on the diagram and track the sun and shade areas. You can also make note of what items work well together and tend to thrive off each other, then plant accordingly.

One tip: Don't plant everything at once. Plant in stages to ensure a constant growth of produce throughout the summer and fall.

Creative planting: Jars, tires, and more

If you don't have the space for even a small indoor garden bed, start by filling any type of container you can get your hands on. For example, the common kitchen strainer, basic galvanized metal pots, or even empty coffee cans can be repurposed as containers for planting whatever your green thumb desires.

Vertical trellis garden.When it comes to using what you have (or reusing whatever you can find), creativity counts for a lot. Old tires, Mason jars, crates, and baskets are all perfect vessels for planting. And that hill on the side of the house that isn’t good for anything? Well, that can be tilled and transformed into a hillside of hearty hostas or a swath of colorful perennials.

The possibilities are endless, but other cheap DIY garden ideas that make a big impact include:

  • Hanging plants. Suspend plants on walls or a simple wooden trellis to allow vines and climbing veggies to grow vertically.

  • Window boxes. Attach window boxes planted with colorful flowers to your fence, sill, or doorway.

  • Stacked garden beds or planters. Use multiple tiered garden beds to fully utilize your vertical space!

  • Bonus: A rain barrel. Repurpose an old wooden barrel or metal can to make watering convenient and environmentally friendly.

With a little modification, almost anything that can hold dirt could theoretically be used for planting. Better yet, you can find jars, pots, and other great makeshift planters at ReStore, where each donation and purchase keeps another item out of the landfill. We’d love to see what you do with your small space – share pictures and your comments below!

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Topics: DIY, Tips and Tricks, 2021, Project Ideas