How to Grow a Container Garden at Your Rental Property

Written on April 15, 2016 by , updated on December 9, 2016

GardeningRenters take note: growing a container garden lets you bring out your inner horticulturist – without irritating your landlord.

Growing a container garden is the perfect solution while living in rental property that either has no yard or that has a yard your landlord doesn’t want you digging in.

You don’t need access to a plot of land to grow your own container garden. Any private outdoor space such as a deck, balcony, or patio can be used to grow your own flowers, veggies, or herbs without digging up the soil around your rented home.

Growing a container garden offers the freedom to cultivate a wide variety of plants, even in the tiniest outdoor space.

A Matter of Light

Whether you garden on a patio or a balcony, your future plants have two basic needs: sunlight and water.

Water isn’t much of an issue since you can fill a watering can any time you like.

Pay attention to the daily amount of light your little patch of the outdoors receives. Take notes on which area receives the most sun and for how long that spot stays sunny — this will be the best place for sun-loving plants.

Pick Your Plants

Pick out some plants that grow well in containers and that will thrive according to the amount of sunlight that reaches your space.

Good container plants and herbs that prefer full sun:

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Spinach
  • Cabbage
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Sage

Choose organic for plants, potting soil, and fertilizers if you plan to grow edible plants — you want them to be as healthy and natural as possible.

Good plants for decorating an outdoor space:

  • Rubber plants
  • Potted trees
  • Aloe
  • Low-maintenance annuals

Note: Read the care tags first to ensure they’re a good match for the available sunlight at your place.

The Ideal Containers

All containers are not created equal when it comes to gardening. Choose vessels that are deep enough for plant roots and for sufficient drainage.

Terra cotta, glazed pots, and plastic plant pots are great choices. You could also use vintage enamel cookware or other items that will not leech chemicals (or rust) into the soil.

Ideally, each pot should have drainage holes on the bottom. Don’t neglect to place waterproof trays beneath them to catch excess water. This keeps your downstairs neighbors —and your landlord —happy, plus it helps prevent water damage and stains on balconies or decks.

Follow the Sun

One huge benefit to growing plants in a container garden versus in the ground is that potted plants are portable — you can move them around the patio, deck, or balcony to find the sunniest spots at various times of day or to protect them from heavy winds during a storm. In a pinch, they can even be brought indoors during frosty weather.

Extra tip: use a planter caddy — a wheeled holder for plant pots — to move oversized or heavy containers, such as those containing potted trees. Create your own ever-changing urban oasis, thanks to the power of wheels!

When You Have No Outdoor Space

If your rental doesn’t have any outdoor space, you might still be able to grow a few of your favorite small plants.

  • Submerge the scrap bottom ends from green onions, leeks, or fennel partially in jar of water and they’ll regrow.
  • Celery, cabbage, and bok choy can be regrown in a shallow pan of water — just plant in a pot of organic soil once leaves grow again.
  • Keep small pots of herbs, green onions, or lettuce on a windowsill indoors to enjoy your own miniature garden.

It’s Worth Asking

Your landlord might allow you to plant a garden in an unused space along the side of the building or to hang planters along a fence or railing. If there is a large unused area that could use a little revitalization, you might be able to start a community garden for others in your building.

It couldn’t hurt to ask.

If the answer is “yes,” make sure to add clean topsoil to ensure a healthy environment for the plants… and the gardeners.

Do you have any tips for growing a container garden? Let us know in the comments!

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