Just because you’ve foregone the suburban backyard in favour of inner city living or can’t be bothered maintaining a lawn, doesn’t mean you can’t have a green space in your home. Patio gardens, indoor plants, and small space gardening are an enormous trend at the moment, and it’s easy to see why: studies suggest that people who live with plants have happier, healthier lives. From an aesthetic perspective, plants are also a huge home design trend, with their organic shape and vibrant colours providing a much-needed to contrast modern silhouettes. In this blog we’ll be exploring some of the approach to small space gardening that are the perfect way to green up your concrete patio or apartment balcony.
This popular Japanese gardening tradition has only recently made it’s way into Australian gardens but it’s fast becoming one of the preferred ways to add greenery where garden beds aren’t really an option.
Kokedama is typically a ball of soil, covered in moss and held together with string, which is used to grow an ornamental plant.
Putting together your own Kokedama is inexpensive and can be a fun project if you have kids. Once made, Kokedama can be suspended in the air and only need to be occasionally submerged in water. From a design perspective, Kokedama look best when grouped together to create a kind of dangling wall.
Slightly more complicated but much more variable and sophisticated is the Japanese tradition of Bonsai. Broadly speaking, the tradition of Bonsai refers to cultivating small trees in containers that mimic the shape of full sized trees in nature.
This gardening tradition is an art form with different disciplines and an extremely long and interesting history which is well worth exploring if you are thinking about cultivating a Bonsai garden. Bonsai is by far the most labour-intensive form of garden less gardening on this list as Bonsai require regular pruning (both of the roots and of the branches), shaping, defoliating, grafting, watering and fertilising.
The payoff is a unique piece of living art that can become a family heirloom and last hundreds of years. If you want to start a Bonsai garden, it’s best to go to a specialist Bonsai nursery and chat with a specialist. You might even like to buy your first few trees before attempting to create your own.
This is a great option if you have a small floor plan. Vertical gardening is exactly what it sounds like: you garden upwards instead of downwards. Whilst the idea of hanging gardens is thousands of years old, the 21st century interpretation of this tradition is often soil-less and designed to mimic the way vines and arboreal plants (like orchids) grow up cliff faces and tree trunks in the rainforest.
Whilst it is possible to create your own vertical garden (and there are plenty of tutorials online), the impressive large-scale ones which are made to look like rainforest walls are almost all professionally installed by a specialist landscaping companies. These services are not cheap, but they do include plants, panels, irrigation, setup and maintenance.
Once established, vertical gardens require regular maintenance during the first year whilst the plants are establishing themselves as well as a plant room to control irrigation and nutrient levels. The payoff is a stunning wall display which improves air quality, reduces background noise, increases humidity and adds value to your property.
Whilst this trend has been around for a while and the smaller versions of these containing succulents and cacti can look a little barren (and a bit naff), large scale, creative interpretations of this gardening style can still make an impact.
The term terrarium refers to a self-sustaining plant ecosystem encased in glass. These mini worlds are perfect for low light situations like inner city patios are an interesting hybrid of garden and design object. Once established, terrariums are quite hardy and only require an occasional watering.
The key to creating an interesting terrarium is to think outside the box. Pick a vessel that is a little out of the ordinary- anything that is watertight and which you can fit your hand into for planting is suitable so get creative. An old coffee pot, a Christmas bauble, an unused computer monitor, or a wine carafe are all unique terrarium candidates.
Plant wise, don’t waste your time with sparse looking succulents and cacti, these are desert plants which are not really suited to the humid terrarium environment. Opt instead for lush rainforest plants in a mix of colours and textures.
Mediterranean Style Gardening
Mediterranean countries have a long-established gardening tradition that has developed to compensate for the erosion prone soils and low rainfall associated with the region.
One of the ways Mediterranean gardeners have got around these limitations by landscaping with either tiles, bricks or concrete, and then planting in pots or raised garden beds. Think terracotta pots filled with lavender, rosemary and citrus trees, a trickling fountain and wrought iron furniture on a tiled patio.
These elements combine to create a low maintenance garden which is ideal for entertaining. This gardenless garden solution is ideal for homeowners with a larger outdoor space who don’t want to deal with a labour-intensive lawn or garden beds.
For those who have absolutely no outdoor space to work with, the windowsill garden is a good way to go. Whilst window boxes and of course literally lining pot plants up along a window have always been around, modern interpretations of windowsill gardening tend to focus on producing edible plants and making use of extremely slim windowsills under the kitchen sink.
To achieve this, modern windowsill gardening typically includes some kind of basket or tray, along which you can line up small pots of herbs or vegetables. Successful windowsill gardens employ pots with good drainage and are positioned in front of a window that receives at least six hours of sunlight a day.
Air plants (Tillandsia)
Air plants are the ultimate in minimalist gardening. As the name suggests, air plants don’t need soil to survive and draw their nutrients from the air. There are over 650 different types of air plants which can survive without soil and they come in a wide range of colours, textures and shapes; some even flower!
The only care an air plant needs is a weekly watering where the plants are rinsed in the sink and left to drain.
Air plants can be tied together and strung from the ceiling, placed in an empty vase or terrarium or arranged on a shelf to create a kind of impromptu vertical garden. These plants are ideal for indoor areas with limited space and are almost impossible to kill.
Prestige Concrete are here to help you landscape your garden with a wide variety of decorative concrete solutions including stencilled, coloured and exposed aggregate concrete. If you need a concrete contractor in the Melbourne area, we’re the guys to call. For more information about our services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on 0411 440 157.