by Bethany Hayes
Lack of space isn’t a reason not to have a garden you genuinely enjoy. Of course, not everyone has acres of land to grow massive gardens, but even a small backyard or a patio area can be transformed into a gorgeous garden if only you know the easiest plants to grow in small spaces.
Some plants require a lot of space to grow and spread out but don’t fret if you don’t have that space. Many plants thrive with little space, even a small sliver of soil.
So, if you have a tiny garden, these are our picks for the best fruits, vegetables, and herbs that grow in small gardens.
5 Tips for Growing in Small Spaces
More people than ever want to grow a garden in small spaces, and it’s possible to have successful gardens on a patio or a balcony without any green space at all! All you need to know is a few of these essential growing tips for small spaces.
1. Learn How Much Sun Your Space Receives
Before you start picking plants to grow, you have to determine how much sun your patio or small backyard receives. After that, you can only grow plants that thrive in your particular light conditions.
Tracking sunlight takes a few weeks. You need to check your space at different times throughout the day and consider things like large trees that might not be in bloom when you are checking sunlight. A large tree quickly decreases sunlight in the summer if you don’t account for that.
Most plants need at least six hours of sunlight to thrive, but some only need four hours. Those are typically salad greens, but fruiting plants need six to eight hours minimum.
2. Pick Compact Varieties
You might assume that many plants are out of your reach because of their size, but nowadays, you can find compact varieties in nearly every plant out there. Remember, pruning plants is also an option to keep them the size you need and still productive!
3. Go Vertical
Your horizontal space might be limited, but you have unlimited vertical space, so go upward! Build a long rectangle raised bed and put a trellis behind it. Grow upright, vining plants and fill the space underneath with salad greens that like a bit of shade in the afternoon shade.
4. Cut and Come Again Plants
Another great option for plants to grow in small spaces is cut and come again plants, such as lettuce and herbs. These plants will stay the size you cut them to be, and you’re able to keep harvesting throughout the growing season.
5. Focus on Soil Health
You might not be able to add more space to your garden, but you can focus on soil health. Soil is truly the foundation for your garden, and without a strong foundation, your plants won’t grow and thrive as they should.
Having healthy soil makes a considerable difference in how your plants will handle growing in small spaces, so make sure you always add compost and test your soil regularly to determine if you need more fertilizer and amendments.
16 Easiest Plants to Grow in Small Spaces
Like many other herbs, Basil is great if you want to grow in small spaces. They have a compact growth and require four to six hours of sunlight per day.
Basil can grow quite wide and bushy if you use different pruning techniques, but the plants grow compactly in containers. If you want to add more plants to your small garden, consider placing a few basil plants in different pots. Just make sure they have plenty of sunlight!
Don’t forget carrots in your small space garden! Carrots grow well in containers because they enjoy fluffy, non-compacted soil, and one of the best ways to provide them with soil they love is by planting in containers.
Since carrots only need to be spaced three to four inches apart, imagine how many carrots you could grow in a few big pots!
Chard is a leafy green plant that grows in many colors, from orange to red, creating a pop of color in your garden beds. These plants are beautiful and equally nutritious, and they grow well in small spaces since you can cut the leaves as you need them.
Chard is one of the few plants that grow best in small gardens because the plants grow more fruitful in tighter spaces. Therefore, it’s best to start these plants from seeds rather than starts, so long as you correctly space the plants.
Another easy plant to grow in small spaces is chives. These herbs are relatively small, so all you need is a 6 to 10-inch container, and you’ll have all the chives you need. Depending on where you live, the chives you grow might end up as a perennial, growing back year after year.
Bush cucumbers are prolific producers, but they take up a lot of space. Vining cucumbers are the other type of cucumbers, and they grow up a fence or trellis. The vines reach four to six feet tall and produce a steady yield of cucumbers for 60 to 70 days.
Best of all, they only take up the space needed to put up a trellis or fence!
Another popular veggie that grows well in small spaces is eggplants. These are popular vegetables that are perfect for hearty, delicious meals. Eggplants also work as meat replacements in many dishes.
Eggplants grow in compact plants that work well in small spaces so that you can grow them in raised beds and containers.
Garlic needs to be planted in the fall or early spring, and you need to put six inches between each clove of garlic. It’s easy to plant garlic in containers or small garden beds next to a fence line; they don’t need a lot of width space around the planted cloves.
8. Ground Cherries
Since other nightshade plants made this list, ground cherries deserve a spot as well! These little plants reach two feet tall and two or three feet wide and produce handfuls of tiny, delicious fruits. Ground cherries taste like a tropical tomato with hints of strawberries – it’s hard to describe until you try them, but they belong in all gardens!
Ground cherries grow well in containers due to their size, so you don’t even need to grow them in the ground.
9. Lemon Trees
Most fruit trees are way too large in a small space, but lemon trees are the exception to that, in particular Meyer’s Lemon trees!
These lemon trees only reach three to five feet at full maturity, so it’s possible to grow them in small planters and containers in your backyard. However, if you want the plants to fruit, ensure you provide the trees with well-draining soil and plenty of fertilizers!
Salad greens, including lettuce, only take six to eight weeks to reach full maturity from sowing seeds. After that, you can grow them anywhere, like raised beds or containers, so you can quickly grow lettuce on a patio or balcony garden.
Peas are an excellent choice for growing in small spaces. Most pea varieties are vining plants, so the most space they take up is the fence or trellis you need to keep the vines growing upward. Of course, you might already have a fence that could serve this purpose!
Some pea plants, like Tom’s Thumb, are compact bush plants that grow well in containers. These plants reach two feet tall and need a sunny spot and small to medium-sized pot to produce all the peas you could want!
Pepper plants have a smaller growth habit than tomato plants. Most smaller pepper varieties, like chili, habanero, or jalapeno, only reach two to three feet tall at full maturity. They grow great in raised beds or container gardens, and when the peppers are ready to ripen, they’ll add plenty of color to your small garden.
13. Pole Beans
Pole beans are a solid choice for tiny gardens because they grow vertically. You might have limited horizontal space, but vertical space is unlimited! You need to provide some support system, such as a trellis.
Too many gardeners discount radishes, but not only are they one of the best small space plants, but they are one of the fastest-growing veggies as well. Some radish varieties mature in as little as 25 to 30 days after planting in your garden!
Radishes, in general, aren’t large, so their roots won’t take up too much space. They also tend to grow relatively shallow, which is why you see the tops of the radishes when it’s time to harvest them.
Shallots have shallow roots similar to radishes so they won’t grow deeply. You can grow them closely together; they only need to be spaced four to six inches apart, and rows need to be placed six to eight inches apart.
Last but certainly not least, tomatoes work great in small spaces. You might assume that these plants need a lot of room, and that’s true if you opt to grow indeterminate, sprawling varieties. Some of those tomato plants grow upward of six feet tall and three to four feet wide.
However, if you have a small space garden, determinate, compact tomato plants are your friend.
Determinate tomatoes are different in several ways, but they have a more compact-like growth and produce their fruits all at one time. Some of these varieties are small enough to grow in hanging baskets!
It’s even possible to grow tomatoes upside down in hanging pots. You might remember the commercials years ago for upside-down tomato containers!