12 Savvy Small-Space Urban Gardening Designs & Ideas

Think you gotta have a farm or even a large yard to grow enough fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs to feed your family all summer? You’d be surprised how much food you can get out of the smallest of spaces – even when you live in an urban high-rise. From innovative vertical gardening systems to hanging pots and easy-access planters, these 12 small-space gardening solutions make homegrown produce possible no matter how tiny your outdoor space may be.

Small but Expandable Step Garden

(images via: urban garden)

How do you squeeze every possible square inch of usable growing space out of a tiny balcony or deck? When space is an issue but you want to grow much more than just a pot full of essentials, stacked raised beds can do a lot with a small footprint. These raised beds by The Urban Garden stack in various configurations and help you ensure that all of your plants have equal access to the sunlight.

Pop Bottle Drip System

(images via: you grow girl)

Unless you’re really conscientious, it’s way too easy to accidentally kill plants growing in small pots under the brutal heat of the summer sun, especially in urban environments where reflected heat can dry out soil fast. A slow-delivering drip irrigation system is the way to go – and you don’t have to spend a dime. An easy tutorial from You Grow Girl explains how to use recycled pop bottles.

Square Foot Gardening

(image via: serene journal)

How much food can you grow in a square foot? More than you think. Square foot gardening consists of 4×4 or 3×3 above-ground boxes filled with high-quality soil and divided into square-foot sections that allow optimal spacing between plants but still fit an entire garden into the smallest of yards.

Self-Watering Grow Box

(image via: a garden patch + urban organic gardener)

If you’re a “set it and forget it” kind of gardener, looking to get as much fresh homegrown produce as you can with a minimum of space and effort, you might want to check out small self-watering systems like ‘The Garden Patch’. Once set up, all you have to do is pour water into a reservoir every now and then and the plant will wick up water as needed through its roots. Want to DIY? Check out these 3 ways to make a self-watering container out of 5-gallon buckets from Urban Organic Gardener.

One-Pot Vegetable Garden

(image via: sunset)

The smallest and simplest of urban gardens is simply a single pot, packed with as many herbs and veggies as possible. Get yourself a galvanized water trough, drill some drainage holes, fill it with soil and then plant complementary groups of plants together. Sunset planted tomatoes, basil, chives and jalapenos for fresh salsa, pasta sauce and bloody mary mix all summer long.

Gutter Garden

(image via: juneau empire)

This now-infamous gutter garden is a staple whenever space-saving gardening is mentioned on the web, and with good reason: it’s utterly brilliant. Bugs, wild animals and poor soil are no problem as this system of three gutters keeps plants off the ground and in the sun. Careful, controlled watering ensures that the house siding and the ground along the foundation don’t get too wet. Make it greener with salvaged gutters.

Vertical Gardening with Salvaged Materials

(image via: readymade)

The gutter system works great – but what if you want something a little more personalized? Get creative and used salvaged materials to make vertical raised growing boxes. This small-space garden in Tacoma, Washington was made using scrounged, mismatched wood and has a charming homemade feel.

WeeTree Wall of Plants

(image via: lushe)

Here’s an idea that can accomplish several goals at once: hiding an ugly wall, shading a building and growing food. Even if you have a postage stamp-sized yard, you can grow row after row of herbs, veggies and ornamentals in a system like this one, created by WeeTree landscape designers of Chicago, which places horizontal planters in between fence posts for a stunning vertical garden effect.

Easy Access Salad Box

(image via: sunset)

Do you feel like you might be more likely to garden if it weren’t for all the bending down that’s usually required? Raised beds on table legs or platforms could be the solution, like this ‘Small Space Salad Box’ by Sunset. A redwood planter box and some 1×4′s – along with some tools and glue – are all that you need to create an attractive waist-high garden that barely takes up any floor space at all.

Woolly Pocket Planter Bags

(image via: woollypocket)

Vertical gardening directly on a wall is great – but best left to the pros, right? Not necessarily – especially with options like the Woolly Pocket planter bags. These breathable recycled wool planter bags keep your wall dry while wicking moisture to the roots of the plants, creating an instantly lush wall of green that works with virtually any type of wall surface.

Shoe Organizer Garden

(image via: instructables)

Another option, similar to Woolly Pockets but even more cost-effective, is to rig up a DIY version with a canvas shoe organizer. Kept off the wall with strips of wood, this system works in a similar way but without the wicking properties, so it would need frequent watering.

Sky Planter by Patrick Morris

(images via: design boom)

Upside-down hanging planters don’t have to be tacky. The ‘Sky Planter’ by Patrick Morris enables you to grow plants virtually anywhere you want without sacrificing your design sense. The plant is held inside the ceramic pot and watered gradually with a hidden reservoir in the top.



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