Posted by Ankith Kaur
How to go green if you’re short on space, time or money Calling all city-dwellers, apartment occupants and other urban denizens – you too can have a garden! Whether you have a balcony, a terrace or a windowsill, there’s greeneryto suit you. Is it expensive? Not necessarily. Recycled containers like old galvanized watering cans can look great.
You can even repurpose an old shoe organiser to hold tiers of plants. Does it take time? You’ll need to make sure your plants get the basics in terms of water and nutrition. But if you prefer a more self-sustaining solution, nature has come up with some low maintenance, good-looking options like money plants and Chinese evergreens (aglaonema).
Pots and Plans for Your Plants
Plants grow best, naturally enough, in conditions best suited to them in terms of temperature, light, aeration and humidity. Understand your growing environment first, especially in terms of direct or indirect light, and aeration. Then choose your plants to suit. See how the sunlight moves across your space to put your sun lover or woodland plants where they will thrive. If your urban garden gets a lot of wind, make sure your plants get the water they need: wind dries out plants and soil quickly. For plant containers and supports, the field is wide open. Porcelain, earthenware, wrought iron, wood and even sculpted concrete can all look good. Designer glass vases for indoor plants may also suit.
Flowers, Food or Both?
Besides flowers and ornamental berries, you can also grow plants to eat. Urban herb gardens with mint and curry plants can be a great start, and tomatoes and strawberries take up little space for high yield. Consider small citrus trees in tubs, especially if you have no outside space available. They look good and their scent can be heavenly. Urban gardening, whether indoors or outside, is an opportunity for experimentation and annual change. Stick to favourite plants if you like, or bring in novelties to see what works best on your balcony.
Room to Breathe
Your plants need room to breathe. So do you! It’s important to get the right balance between having greenery and being able to move around and enjoy it. If space allows, add some outdoor furniture like Fabmart wicker chairs for relaxing and admiring your urban garden. Avoid visual clutter by using plant pots and containers that blend in with the rest of your dwelling. It’s often good to have an overall theme in mind, and to vary or repeat plant species and colours accordingly. If you’re more ambitious, you may even want to change the décor itself – for example, by covering bare floors or walls with smooth teak slats. Just check to make sure you have any necessary authorisation first.
Stepping Things Up
Besides floor-standing plants, you can use vertical space to great effect. Wall-mounted kitchen racks to grow herbs, stepladders in a terrace corner to hold plant pots and a trellis or two for climbing plants are all ideas. Overhead beams or the ceiling of a balcony let you suspend flowers in baskets or try your hand at growing beans or vines. As your urban garden grows, so will associated activities. Repotting may be an annual exercise for some plants,trimming and pruning more frequent, and fertilisation a monthly event. And finally, should you also talk to your plants to encourage them, as some gardeners recommend? Why not – but if you do, just let your neighbours know beforehand so that they don’t think you’re completely nutty!