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How to garden in small spaces like balconies or patios

Written by Nicola Wallis

Any outdoor space such as a balcony, patio or small garden can be turned into a real gem of a space. You don’t need lots of space to grow plants, vegetables, fruit herbs and even trees! What you do need is good soil, sunlight and a water source.

How can I grow fruit, vegetables and herbs in a small space?

If you have a small patio, terrace or balcony, containers and planters can be a fantastic way of gardening. Not only can they be used for plants and small trees but for growing fruit, vegetables and herbs, using containers gives you the flexibility to re-design the layout whenever you want as well as making your small garden easier to maintain.

Haxnicks have a whole range of pots and planters suitable for various different vegetable growing. Their Vigoroot Vegetable planters are planters made from a

very special Air Pruning fabric.  This Air Pruning process dramatically changes the formation of the roots and means that they can sustain the plant in much less compost. It encourages more vigorous rooting, which enables the plants to absorb more nutrients. It prevents the roots from growing too long and helps prevent plants from becoming ‘pot-bound’ which would normally limit the plants’ growth. This means that the plants can grow to a much larger size in a relatively small pot. The super strong root system also helps the plants to become more resistant to harsh weather, pests and diseases. 


With carrot planters it is even possible to grow a successful crop of carrots on your patio or just about anywhere - at just 30cm wide x 45 cm long they take up the floor space of a tea tray.  This makes them perfect for urban and balcony gardeners.  They are equally good if you suffer from a stony plot and end up with rather distorted carrot plants.  Growing in planters will allow you to just fill the planter with compost and sow. 

You can get your carrot seedlings growing and give yourself another year to remove some more of those stones! Many people choose to grow carrots in pots for this reason.   These planters are specifically designed for carrot plants.  They work whether you are growing carrots from seed or buying carrot plants.  To start with they are deep to allow long straight roots and narrow to allow all plants to get light.  But also, planting in planters will raise your carrots up to avoid more of the carrot flies.  Carrot flies only fly to a maximum of around 40 cm from the ground so are less likely to stumble across your crop if it’s not at ground level.  Find out more in an earlier blog How to Sow carrots in Planters.

Transform a corner of the garden or balcony with a Pea & Bean Planter. This provides the space to grow up to 6 plants in just 2ft x 1ft. Or stylish Oxford Planters could have you growing potatoescourgettes, tomatoes or herbs & salads in a disused corner and can be folded up and packed away once the season is over.

Utilise vertical space using tiered planters which are perfect for balcony’s and patios. Take a look at The Vigoroot Balcony Garden which is ideal for those who really want to grow their own veg but do not have a lot of space. The planter has four deep planting troughs, quadrupling your growing space, which are well-spaced allowing for easy watering and ensuring plenty of light reaches your plants to optimise growth. 

The troughs are made of Vigoroot fabric which is an advanced growing fabric used by top professional fruit tree growers. The fabric enables an air-pruning process to take place so that when the roots reach the side the tips are air-pruned, which stimulates the plant to grow more roots from the core and prevents longer spiralling roots forming. This stops the plant getting pot-bound and thereby reduces the need for re-potting allowing plants to grow larger and increasing crop yield. This system is particularly suitable for all sorts of plants such as herbs, salad, strawberries and bush tomatoes. 

If you want to really use your space well and make life easy for yourself then the Vigoroot Easy Table Garden is a raised bed, a mini greenhouse and an irrigation system all in one! The Vigoroot™ fabric ‘air-prunes’ the roots of plants, dramatically changing their formation and increasing their ability to sustain the plant in a limited volume of compost. In real terms this means it punches above its weight in terms of yield compared to growing in the ground.

How do I make my garden feel bigger?

Does your outside space never feel big enough? Accessorising it with a mirror will add the illusion of more space. It works for gardens or balconies and will also reflect light into shady corners of the area. Be careful what you reflect and try and position it so that it reflects foliage rather than your wheelie bins! 



Have a good declutter and create a blank canvas. The decaying plastic pots that sit mouldering in the corner enjoyed by no one but snails. The old garden chair that the last plot owner forgot or the wood that you were going to make into... what were you going to make that wood into? A good afternoon of clearing and you will be able to see the trees for the wood. You will reveal space to grow.

Water features are another fantastic way of adding a focal point to your garden and creating a sense of calm as well as space by reflecting light.

If you can't go extend your footprint then you have to go up. Architectural and design prizes are all going to dramatic living walls.

Although dramatic living walls might be a bit ambitious for the home gardener think about alternative uses for wall space. It can still be used as growing space with products such as the Herb Wall planter.

Alternatively, you could  make a stylish statement of colour on your wall by installing hanging baskets or planters on walls to create a beautiful vertical garden.

If herbs aren't enough for you, you could also try the Self Watering Tower Garden. This is a raised bed, a mini greenhouse and an irrigation system all in one. I have this at home (see my Blog for the full story) and have 4 bush tomatoes, 4 strawberries plus mint, coriander, chives and

thyme in a little space under my scaffolding. It is fantastic for the urban gardener, those who travel a lot and those who are guilty of either over or under watering. All I have to do is check the water level once a week and give the odd once over to check for any snails that have set up home under the pots (2 snails and 1 mini slug found and removed to date). Other than that, it seems to be looking after itself and the plants are thriving.


Is it better to use small or large pots?

You would think that a small space would cry out for small pots but actually larger pots with multiple plants is much better. It allows you to have less clutter, more plants in less space and it makes a bigger statement. Clutter makes a space seem even smaller so be careful to consider the sizes of your plants and bushes. Crab apple and bay trees in pots can give a garden a sense of height without compromising on space and potted topiary trees look stylish in any type pf garden.

What type of furniture should I use for a small garden?

Furniture for garden needs to be well considered.  If it is too large is can overwhelm a small garden so ideally source small furniture of if a budget allows customise your furniture to get the most out of your space.

If you have the luxury overhauling of your small garden or patio, make a plan of the layout before you begin. Think about dividing the space into various zones and take into account how you will access them, Consider the fruit, vegetables or herbs you would like to grow and where you want them to go. With regards to plants choose varieties that are native to your local area so that they will thrive. And last but not least think about long term maintenance.

Small is beautiful and can be bountiful too and I hope this has inspired you to have a try to get more out of your small space.



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