Urban gardens in postage-stamp backyard?

klszalApril 19, 2005


Does anyone else have a garden in their "backyard" patio? We have a condo in Boston with a 16x16 backyard, and want to improve the "garden" which right now is mostly bricks with 2 sad hostas.

How to get started? Recommendations for good plants for our area? Any suggestions are appreciated!


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
lighter(z9 TX)

I was in your boat a few mnths ago- now you should see it. One thing that I always tell us Urban dwellers is invest in a few good vines. I have a metal grid on my balcony and really like to have my privacy, which is hard living in an apartment. I am growing clematis and passionflower, I just need to be patient for it to cover everything. Get a few big pots and buy what you like. Combine low groundcovers with bulbs and its beautiful! If you want to get a head start, just buy some premade pots, well worth the money at your nursery or grocery store. They construct them beautifully. Get some hanging baskets too. Done!! Let me know if you need some other suggestions. I love what I have done to my once "sad" balcony! Good luck and have fun!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2005 at 5:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
whytephoenix(z9a Houston)

Sixteen square sounds huge to me! (My balcony is 4x8) :)

If you can get ahold of "The Essential Garden Book" by Conran and Pearson, it has a nice little chapter on small-space gardening and some visuals that might give you some ideas on what you can do with this space. (Though beware, the rest of the book contains a lot of acres-vast gardens that will inspire all sorts of jealous fits.) Another good one is... oh what's it called... "Small Gardens for Modern Living" (I think.)

You can really do great things with this space. If you have any windows overlooking it from above, you might consider grouping your containers into shapes you can enjoy at that angle, too.

What are the specs - how much light do you get? Is there a wall around it or is it open?

    Bookmark   April 25, 2005 at 5:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
cindybird(Zone 5)

You might want to consider how much sunlight you get, prevailing winds, winter-time temperatures, and any condo restrictions on wall-mounts, ceiling hooks, etc.

I like my container water garden -- around ~30" diameter plastic pot on a sturdy plant roller, with 2-3" of clay soil with 2-3" of pea gravel, a container hardy water lily, underwater grass (sagittarius, acornus), duckweed, and water hyacinth. No pump, no fountain (drought restrictions!), just a screen in the hot months over the top to prevent birds from drowning.

Some shutdown required for winter storage, but not much fuss!

Try also a mix -- climbing vines, taller plants, shorter plants, groups of small round pots around larger round pots, large rectangular pots, etc.

Do you want to attract birds? Butterflies? Certain container plants will attract wildlife. You can also add a birdbath...

Have fun!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2005 at 9:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm in the same dilemma spacewise, with just half of a shallow yard backing up onto the alley -- but there's loads you can do!

This was taken last spring; as the summer goes on the clematis completely covers the fire escape, up to the middle of the second story. (And I cleaned up the pots some!)

This shady nook is now completely filled in, and reached for the top of the fence. The sweet autumn clematis to the left is blanketing the fence. The mock orange along the porch steps to the right is just passed bloom now, but was smothered with white. The casablanca lilies are topping out at about 6', the toad lilies and the heuchera are starting to put out their blooms, and as always, I'm ready to swoon with the scent of the royal standard hosta....

    Bookmark   June 14, 2005 at 1:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Alison, great gardens! I love how the clematis goes up the fire escape.

Kszal, thank your lucky stars you have as much space as you do! You can do all kinds of things in a space like you have. My balcony is 4 1/2 by 26, like a bowling alley. Wish I had a 16 x 16 space!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2005 at 12:59AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Planting my starts 2015
It is time to plant my seeds in cups so I have well...
Steve, Z (6Bground,5B roof) Cincy,OH
Container watermelon
This is the third year we have been growing watermelons...
Balcony vegetable garden in California
I live in Central California and I have been planting...
How can I make unique?
How can I make my balcony gardening unique?Please give...
Sanjok Dangol
Help identify these two i picked up
Sorry I really don't know the best place to post these...
Sponsored Products
19" Copper Planter on Wrought Iron Stand - Antique Copper / Black Powder Coat
Signature Hardware
Cast Iron Fire Bowl
Design Within Reach
Hammered Polished Copper Hose Pot with Lid
Signature Hardware
Eastern Jungle Gym Jumbo Binoculars - CB
$29.99 | Hayneedle
Fat Bird Statue
Home Decorators Collection
Angus The Toad Garden Statue - 328
$44.99 | Hayneedle
Foscarini | Havana Outdoor Terra Bassa Floor Lamp
Red Carpet Studios Birdhouse Birdie In A Hat Red Plaid Hunter Cap - 40996
$22.94 | Hayneedle
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™