clock menu more-arrow no yes
Two outdoor chairs on a patio. Shutterstock

Filed under:

A gardening guide for small-space dwellers

Tips and products for urban gardeners in tight spaces

If you buy something from a Curbed link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

Gardeners who take a look at what’s growing in their backyard (or, in the case of city dwellers, on their windowsills and even fire escapes), can clearly see that the idea of gardening has evolved. While the hobby is as popular as ever, the days of blooming perennials, roses, and white picket fences have faded.

What we’re growing is different. Today, 1 in 3 households grow some of their own food, the largest number seen in a decade. And it’s not just a resurgence seen in the older demographics that typically fill up home and garden stores on the weekends. The number of millennial growers and gardeners has exploded; from 2008 to 2013, participation from this age group surged 63 percent, and that number is only increasing in this stay-at-home, coronavirus-impacted world.

“Time is ripe for people to disrupt this industry,” says Cameron MacKugler, CEO and founder of Seedsheet, a plantable sheet embedded with seeds for easy growing. “The leading consumer is still a 55-year-old woman. Not enough companies are switching to address the urban millennial.”

Urban dwellers are increasingly looking for smart solutions, from window boxes to large-scale urban farming options such as Brooklyn Grange. Growing networks of community gardens and online resources (see the wildly successful Urban Gardeners Republic group) suggest gardening media has grown well beyond glossy mags near the supermarket checkout.

Simply put, urban gardening is hot. To help city or apartment dwellers with little to no outdoor space, we’ve compiled the best products and tips for gardening in small spaces.

Containers

Having the right container in your garden can make all the difference. Whether it’s a self-watering box that makes maintenance easier, or a well-priced larger pot, here are four top-notch options.

Go vertical

When space is at a premium, don’t underestimate the power of going up. Simple utility carts become an overflowing mini-jungle, and a few hanging pots can work wonders on the ambiance of an outdoor space.

Seeds and kits

“Grow what you eat the most, and think about return on investment,” says Lisa Giroday, co-founder of Victory Gardens, a Vancouver, Canada-based store focused on urban growing. “About 99 percent of the time, I encourage people to grow leafy greens and herbs. Most people would have a salad everyday if they had the right things growing in their backyard.”

Make vegetables and herbs easy with these helpful kits.

Seedsheet Mini Herbs Kit

  • $16

This flat, biodegradable sheet is shippable through the mail, includes fertilizer, seeds, and a fabric container, and aims to make gardening simple and straightforward.

EarthBox Garden Kit

  • $45

Want to turn that black thumb into a green thumb? Try out this wheeled garden box growing kit. Great for vegetables or flowers, the kit comes with foolproof instructions, the container, and fertilizer; just add planting mix, seedlings, and water.

Watering

Forget the old dollar store watering can, there are better options. From underground vessels that maximize moisture to an affordable, design-forward watering can, here are some of our picks.

Sustee Plant Moisture Sensor

  • $15

This Japanese water-measurement tool offers instant feedback on the health of your plants. Designed to measure water and pH levels, the thermometer-shaped device turns blue when your plant is healthy, and news editor Megan Barber uses it to keep her plants in good shape.