Whether you're prettying up your home with flowers, or trying to grow a few organic vegetables, small spaces can provide big yields when planted properly. Even gardeners with tiny yards can grow flowers, herbs and veggies by using the space and sunlight they have.
Vertical gardening employs intensive gardening techniques such as trellises, hanging and upright planters to create space where little exists. Espaliering, training fruit trees to grow vertically on a trellis or against a wall, is considered an art form in some expert gardening circles.
Vines are the most-often trellised plants, but tying other plants with flexible stems to trellises, such as tomatoes and squash, saves space and increases yield. While trellised plants may not appear to produce as well, yield actually increases in the space occupied. Trellised plants need more water, because more foliage is exposed to sunlight.
Hanging planters and spaces on the tops of walls provide spots for placing containers of plants. Creative small space gardeners have invented special containers, such as PVC "trees," which employ tall pieces of 8 to 10 inch diameter PVC pipe with round planting holes cut in the sides. Lettuce, greens and strawberries grow well as "tree" crops.
Even if your yard consists of a tiny patio or terrace, you can grow some flowers or vegetables in containers. Companion planting maximizes available container space. Interplanting marigolds with a tomato plant in a 5-gallon bucket provides food and flowers. Small vegetables, such as radishes and carrots, grow well around larger container plants. Peppers grow particularly well in containers.
Strawberry jars aren't just for strawberries, but also work for lettuces and small salad greens. Container holders specifically designed to hang conventional containers on railings provide additional vertical space. Try growing a fruit tree in a large pot, and hang small baskets from the branches.
Square-foot gardening is an intensive gardening method which involves laying out growing areas in 1-foot-square sections. The basic premise of square-foot gardening is to provide better yields by avoiding wasted space created by rows with wide walkways between them. Plants are laid out in sections no wider than 4 feet, so all plants can easily be reached from the outside. Planting a designated number of plants in the 1-foot square avoids crowding.
While the method was designed for use in vegetable gardening in raised beds, gardeners can use the guidelines for planting in any garden space for maximum effect or yield. If you have an extra square foot of space in a flower bed, for instance, pop in a tomato or other vegetables. If you have a foot-wide strip of sunny space below a wall or next to a walkway, divide it into squares for planting. Only 25 square feet of space feeds a single person.
Plant warm and cool season crops sequentially for greater variety and yield. In colder climates, even a small cold frame provides a few winter veggies and a place to start warm season crops early. Starting sequential crops indoors while current crops are still growing gives you a head start on the next season.