April 27th, 2017
When you’re shopping for an apartment you’re usually looking at the size and configuration of the rooms, not what’s outside. But with windows and a patio door, the outdoors is part of your home decor as well. Take these steps to create an apartment garden on your patio and make your home more beautiful inside and out:
Different plants have different light requirements. The majority of what you’ll see at the garden center want full sun, which means six hours every day. Apartment patios can have overhangs or walls that block the sun, or a northern exposure that keeps it from getting almost sun. If you want to build an apartment garden on a shady patio, this is a good list of shade-loving container plants; use this one for help choosing plants for a sunny patio.
You don’t need to spend a fortune. Plastic pots, secondhand items, or repurposed containers all work well. They do need to be large, however, and they need a drainage hole at the bottom. If the roots are pinched in small pots, the plants will struggle. “Large” often results in containers that are taller than roots need (not much more than a foot for most plants). You can save weight on containers that are very deep or tall by putting lightweight biodegradable packing peanuts at the bottom, below the soil.
When you’re choosing plants, don’t be distracted by lots of flowers or fruit. Instead, pay attention to how sturdy the base stems are, and how heavy and vigorous the foliage is. Healthy plants will produce plenty of flowers and fruit over the summer. (If you want your apartment garden to be a kitchen garden, this list of the best container vegetables will help you.)
You will make stunning pots for your apartment garden if you plan your planting around “thrill-fill-spill.” For your “thrill” item, choose a tall, upright plant. For the “fill,” get bushy blooming plants that will give you lush volume. For “spill,” add trailing greenery or flowers to tuck around the edges and spill over. Buy enough to fill your ornamental pots densely. Fruiting plants, on the other hand, need lots of shoulder room. Provide cages or trellises to support them, which also give you the charm of a French potager.
Make sure you get potting soil, not garden soil. Potting soil is designed to drain well, retain moisture around the roots, provide structure for the roots to hold onto, and enable nourishment to be absorbed. Scoop or pour the soil into the pots to nearly the top, but don’t pack it down. Loosen the roots of your transplants, which will probably be a bit tangled together, then push them into holes you dig with your fingers. Pour or scoop potting soil around the base stems of your plants to be sure they’re well tucked in and that the pot is filled with soil to the top.
Every time the soil feels dry on the surface, water your plants until the water runs out the drainage holes in the bottom. During hot weather, expect to do it every day. Your apartment garden will pay you back in healthy foliage and lots of flowers if you feed your plants with diluted liquid fertilizer every time you water, or at least weekly (even if the potting soil says it has time-release fertilizer). Pinch off faded blooms to encourage more blooming. If a plant gets scraggly, you can cut it back by about 1/3 to get it to re-grow more densely. However, if a plant isn’t performing well, it’s okay to pull it out and replace it.
Greenery and flowers provide the natural touch all styles of home decor need, and a beautiful apartment garden just outside your patio door with make you even more delighted with your apartment home.