Even though it was once a hobby only associated with old women, gardening is seeing a massive spike in popularity right now. What may surprise you is that the largest increase in gardening is happening among young people, primarily millennials.
The issue is that while gardening is at an all-time high among this age group, homeownership is still lagging behind. This means that many of these up-and-coming green thumbs are growing their plants on rental properties.
If you’re hoping to join their ranks, don’t reach for the shovel and tiller just yet. Most landlords don’t consider tearing up the lawn to plant a garden part of normal wear and tear, meaning you aren’t likely to get your security deposit back if you do so.
But hope isn’t lost—not being able to plant a traditional garden doesn’t mean you can’t plant one at all. There are countless ways to design a rental-friendly garden if you’re willing to get a bit creative. Keyrenter Merrimack Valley explores various ways that can help you get started on your very own container garden.
Building an Outdoor Garden
The best way to build a garden outside on a rental property is to use containers. Container gardening is easy to move around from place to place and doesn’t mess with the existing landscaping.
Many people like to build custom terraced container gardens out of wood and line them with landscaping fabric. Some prefer to stick with premade pots, tubs, and window boxes. Others still get creative by turning canoes, old tires, wheelbarrows, and ladders into blossoming floral landscapes.
Whatever container you use, make sure it’s deep enough for the plants to root and allows water to drain out easily. This keeps your plants from getting accidentally overwatered after a rainstorm.
The Best Plants for Container Gardening
Most flowers aren’t picky about whether they live in a container or in the ground. The most important things to consider when growing a floral container garden are the size of the container, whether the plant climbs or trails, and how much sunlight the container will get every day.
Fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, are a bit pickier about where they grow and tend to need more space to flourish. Many of them will also need a support structure like a tomato cage to climb up or lean against as they get taller.
The best fruits and veggies for a container garden include:
- Green onions
- Zucchini and other small squash varieties
- Pineapples (these plants take a few years to produce fruit)
- Leafy greens like lettuce and kale
Keep in mind that you can’t expect a huge harvest to come from a few small vegetable pots, but you’ll still have enough to enjoy the delicious fruits of your labor. You may even be able to grow your vegetables from the seeds or sprouts of ones you buy from the grocery store.
Indoor Gardens for Rental Units
Do you live in an upper-level or city apartment without any access to a yard? Has your landlord asked that you refrain from container gardening to make it easier to mow? Don’t fret, you can still be a gardener even when you’re stuck indoors.
Kitchen Herb Garden
Cooking at home, gardening, and living on a budget all go hand in hand. For many people, the desire to have a garden is about having access to fresh herbs and produce that they wouldn’t otherwise splurge on at the grocery store.
The great news is that most herbs are hardy enough to grow inside your kitchen without much effort. Set up a row of mason jars, tin cans, or small terracotta pots on your counter or windowsill—wherever they get the most light.
Whatever type of containers you use, make sure they have enough drainage. You can accomplish this by filling the bottoms of the containers with pea gravel before adding soil. Then, plant the herbs and snip off however much you need for a recipe.
If you find yourself buying more and more plants because you use up the herbs too quickly, here’s a tip: you can grow an entire new plant from cutting off another one. Called propagation, this technique gives you infinite plants for the price of one.
All you have to do is make a diagonal snip through the stem right below a leaf node. Then, strip off the leaves near the base of the cutting and place it in a vase of water. Once new roots sprout, you can plant the cutting in soil and watch it grow.
Grow Shelf or Tent
If you’re lacking in open windowsills and natural light, growing a kitchen herb garden might not be possible. The good news is that even people living in basement apartment units can be gardeners.
All you need is a grow light, a fluorescent or LED light that puts out the wavelengths plants need for photosynthesis. You can set this type of light up above a container garden on a shelf to grow herbs or microgreens. If you want to have a full-sized kitchen or flower garden, you might want to invest in a small grow tent to better control light, temperature, and humidity.
You can often pick up a grow light or grow tent kit from your local gardener’s supply store, but if not, they’re easy to order online. The best part is that these gardens don’t require any sophisticated construction or setup. You merely have to pop open the tent, hang the light, and plug it in—then you’re good to grow!
Get Creative With Your Apartment Gardening
You can still grow a flourishing garden even if your landlord isn’t thrilled about you tilling up the lawn. It takes some creativity and hard work, but gardening in containers or a grow tent can help you grow the flowers, fruits, and vegetables you long for.
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