How To Have A Garden In A Condo - Backyard Boss
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How To Have A Garden In A Condo

When avid gardeners move out from rural areas to concrete jungles made of condos and skyscrapers, they bring their love and knowledge of gardening with them. If you grew up surrounded by nature, moving into a condo with a compact balcony that replaces big yards can be quite challenging.

However, does living in an apartment mean you cannot have your garden? The simple answer is no! There are many ways in which you can bring a dreamy backyard inside your home to create the tropical condo garden of your dreams in the middle of a busy city.

Down below, there are a few ways on how to do that and a step-by-step guides to their execution.

How To Have A Garden In A Condo

No backyard and no soil means no garden, right? Nope! A lack of space can seem intimidating at first, especially if you grew up gardening in large backyards, but as you start planning your garden, you’ll realize it’s an achievable goal, not a distant dream.

One of the first things you need to do before starting your condo garden is to find a suitable spot for it. Some of the more popular choices are:

1. Fire Escape

Fire Escapes with Potted Plants on an Old Brick Apartment Building in Astoria Queens New York
Image credits: James Andrews1 via Shutterstock

The fire escape is a common spot for most city dwellers. You should find pots that you can attach to the outside of the railing as well as pots that will not obstruct traffic, in case, you know, there’s a fire. Make sure to put safety first when growing your garden on your fire escape!

2. Balcony

balcony garden prior to renovation
Image Credit: Lakeisha Ethans for Backyard Boss

If you are lucky enough to have a balcony, this would be the ideal place to start a garden. Not only do you have plenty of space, but these plants will also serve as a gorgeous decoration. On a balcony you have more variety for how to display your plants, although not everyone is graced with this extra space.

You can learn more about vertical gardens or check out some vertical garden ideas to help inspire your balcony makeover.

3. Walls and Railings

wall hanging planter
Image Credit: Spacejoy via Unsplash

Hanging gardens have become all the rage amongst city gardeners lately. Using hanging pots or bottles filled with soils mounted on railings could do for a fun DIY project that anyone can pick up and do.

4. Windowsill

plants on window sill
Image credits: Luther.M.E. Bottrill via Unsplash

If nothing else works out, windowsills can do too. They can usually fit a pot or two and are great if you want to grow herbs. Make sure to pick a spot with amble sunlight so your plants will be happy in their new home.

5. Hanging Plants

plants hanging
Image Credit: Angèle Kamp via Unsplash

This old-school method for indoor gardening is perfect for those who have no access to a balcony or a fire escape. While it may not be very suitable for growing veggies, it is great for flowers, succulents, and herbs. It’s also a great DIY craft as you can make hanging planters yourself!

What You Need to Create a Condo Garden

While most of these ideas will not require anything but a couple of pots and flowerpot racks and hangers, the DIY project with mounted containers on railings will require a few more tools and materials:

  • Table saw
  • Circular saw
  • Brad nailer
  • Drill
  • Sander
  • Clamps
  • Cedar fence pickets
  • 1×4 cedar board
  • 1 ¼’’ brad nails
  • 1 ¼’’ exterior screws
  • 80 and 150 sandpaper (grit)
  • Wood glue
  • Stain/Paint
  • Lacquer
  • Foam Brush / Airbrush

What Plants are Good for Container Gardens

Strawberry plants with lots of ripe red strawberries in a balcony railing planter, apartment or urban gardening concept.
Image credit: Agenturfotografin via Shutterstock

Once you have chosen an area for your garden, you will have to choose what seeds you want to plant. However, it is no surprise that not all plants are suitable for container gardening, and some are preferred over others. As long as you avoid making these common container gardening mistakes, you can transform your concrete condo into nature’s paradise in little time! That said, some of the more popular plants to grow in your condo garden are:

Herbs

They are very easy to grow and don’t take up a lot of space. Some of the most commonly chosen herbs are basil, mint, ginger, cilantro, rosemary, or parsley. Not only are they easy to find, but they are also low maintenance and need little effort. You can even plant different herbs together in a container

Succulents

Succulents have become quite popular lately since they are extremely hardy, require little maintenance, and still bloom and have gorgeous flowers. They do no require amble watering making them a stress free solution.

Strawberries

There’s a good reason some cities started strawberry growing initiatives. They are quite easy to maintain, hardy, and at the end of the season, you even get to eat your own yield. Can it get any better? If you envision yourself munching some homemade, organic, and juicy strawberries from the comfort of your home, you’ll need to learn how to grow them first. 

Vegetables

That’s right! You don’t need a large backyard to grow your own carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, or beans! You can even grow pineapples in containers. There are plenty of foods you can grow in containers and some might even surprise you. Growing vegetables in containers isn’t as difficult as it may seem.

Flowers

Container gardening allows you to grow a wide variety of flowers, all without the hassle or the arduous effort of maintaining a traditional backyard garden. Apart from growing roses, you can grow many other flowers this way.

Getting Down and Dirty With Soil

Without going too much into detail, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Garden soil differs from potting soil, and potting soil differs from a potting mix! It’s important to know the difference between each of these soils because you can’t use them interchangeably. There are also soils with different nitrogen and pH levels so make sure to do your research for the specific plant you are caring for.

For a condo garden, however, you may want to avoid using garden soil and choose between potting mix and potting soil.

Image Credit: NARINDER PAL via Unsplash

How to Build A Condo Garden Step by Step

As we mentioned above, most of these ideas will only require you to place a few pots or other containers on the ground. Furthermore, they might need to be attached to a surface or a railing using pot hangers and racks. However, the DIY project with mounted containers on railings will take more than just this.

Step 1. Prepare the Fence Pickets

Worker Man Polishing Sandpaper Wood by hand.
Image credits: junpiiiiiiiiiii via Shutterstock

Cedar fence pickets are amazing! They take very little effort to look great. First, you have to cut ¼’ inch off each side so that they are five inches wide. Then, you have to sand them with 80 grit and 150 grit sandpaper.

Step 2. Cut the Pieces for the Planter Boxes

man sawing wood
Image credits: Greyson Joralemon via Unsplash

Using a table or circular saw, you can make your planter boxes any size you want! Cut two pieces to the length you’d like, one 1 ¼’ inch shorter and two, five inch squares for the ends.

Step 3. Construct the Boxes

Woodworkers screwing wooden box by electric screwdriver. Screwing Screw into wood strip with drill. Wood working concept
Image credits: Mariana Serdynska via Shutterstock

Use the wood glue and run it along the side where the two pieces meet. Next, you want to put the box together and use clamps so that the glue can be set and the wooden pieces stay in place. After that, nail the pieces together.

If you want to, you can use screws. However, it is not recommended because the boards are thin and could split. If you want to take this route, you should pre-drill the holes and use small screws.

Step 4. Cut and Attach the French Cleat

attaching French cleat to box
Image credits: Small Fry Creations via YouTube

Cut the 1×4 board into pieces – they have to be three to four inches smaller than your planter boxes, and you will need two per box. Next, set your table saw angle to 45 degrees and cut the edge off of each piece. Attach one piece to the back of the planter box while making sure that the point faces down and away. 

You should use the 1 ¼’ inch exterior screws. Attach the other piece to the wall/deck railing while ensuring that the point is facing up and away this time. To see how this is done, here’s Small Fry Creations tutorial on how to build an outdoor hanging planter.

Step 5. Stain/Paint and Lacquer

Freshly cut cedar wood flower garden planter boxes
Image credits: Brett Taylor Photography via Shutterstock

If you want to go for the best look, you need to stain your planters in the same color as the rest of your area decor. It is best to use foam brushes for this, but you can also use an airbrush to stain your boxes. Finish the look by lacquering the boxes – this way they will last longer without being damaged by the sun or the snow/rain.

Step 6. Hook the Planter Box onto the Cleat

hanging planter
Image credits: Small Fry Creations via YouTube

All you have to do now is hook the planter box to the cleat. The best thing about this method of attachment is that the box will be easy to remove if you want to replant or transplant.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I compost on the balcony?

If you’re going to transform your condo into nature’s paradise, you’ll need compost and fertilizer to make sure your plants thrive. Composting is a process of recycling organic kitchen waste into a rich fertilizer for your plants. To simplify, yes, you can compost on your balcony!

2. Will my plants attract pests and diseases?

No matter where you grow your plants, pests, and diseases will find a way to wreak havoc on your garden. Regularly inspect your condo garden for pests, and if you spot an infected plant, move it away from other plants until you’ve managed to eradicate pests and diseases from the infected plants.

3. My condo doesn’t receive enough sunlight, what can I do?

While plants need sunlight to grow, if your condo doesn’t receive much sunlight, you can place LED lights designed for plants in your condo garden. But don’t overdo it, as too much can heat your plants and cause stunted growth.

4. Is it legal to maintain condo gardens?

Sure, your condo is yours, but you have to be mindful of the people who live in the same building as yours. Before you plant, read and understand the rules and regulations your building has in place regarding what you can and can’t grow or how much you can grow. While most buildings have no problem with condo gardens, others have some rules in place. Check for allergies, safety information, and plant placement before you start.

Transform Your Space!

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Especially if you are a city dweller, finding a good place to garden can become quite difficult and frustrating. Gardening is an important hobby for all of us, so we compiled this list of ideas for condo gardens. After reading through it, you will find the ideal solution for you.

What do you think about condo gardens? Let us know in the comment section down below and if you found the article helpful, share it with your friends and family.

Happy Gardening!

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