6 Tips for Urban Gardeners with Limited Space

Don’t think that because you live in a cheap apartment like one of these listed by ABODO in Pittsburgh or a penthouse in New York City you aren’t able to grow many of the same herbs, vegetables, and flowers you see at rural roadside markets. 

There are a ton of awesome benefits to growing vegetables or just having plants in your apartment and this is even more of a reason to keep reading below. Here are a few important ones: your sleep will improve, your mood will improve, you will be responsible for a living item and it will provide you with fulfillment as it grows, you will get better oxygen flow in your apartment, you will feel a sense of a pride in adding greenery to your place, your friends will be impressed with your urban garden, and many, many more.

So, let’s get started and take a look at why urban gardening can be so impactful in your small apartment and beyond!

It Takes Planning

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Planning is essential if you’re interested in growing food, foliage or flowers. You wouldn’t do other grown-up tasks without planning, would you? We didn’t think so!

Take stock of the spaces you have available and the containers you would like to use. Decorative pots with drainage holes and trays are available in a vast array of sizes, shapes, and colors. Pots that fit your décor and are plant-healthy will ensure success. If you are lucky enough to have a porch or patio area, your ability to grow almost anything multiplies. 

Know Your Light

Spend time watching how the sunlight moves around your urban home. If you live in a high rise building that is wedged between tall structures you may not be able to grow plants that require six hours of full sun. There are, however, many plants available that can flourish under low light conditions. If you are intent on growing plants that require more sunlight than your home has to offer, consider investing in LED grow lights. LEDs use one half the amount of electricity that old fashioned fluorescent grows lights use and are mercury-free.

Decide on a System

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There are many ways to set up a garden. The most common method is to buy some pots, the correct type of soil, and then pop the plants into their new home. Water approximately once a week and you’re done. But if you decide you need a serious growing system to start seedlings and eventually nurse the plants to maturity, you may want to consider something else. Hydroponic gardening is a way to grow plants in a water-based, nutrient-rich solution. Entire hydroponic systems are widely available and range from fifteen to hundreds of dollars. If your goal is to be a farmer-in-a-flat, this may be the system for you.

Up, Down or All-Around

If you want plants around your house for decoration, or if you want to supply your own produce, you will need to find the proper locations for your plants. A large potted plant, like a Meyer lemon, may need a bit more real estate than you can surrender but you can have a garden using very little floor space. Consider using your windowsills for small herbs. You can also find, or make, tiered hanging gardens, which take up no floor space. Just make sure the ceiling hooks can support the weight of the vessels, plants, growing media and water. Getting everything put together and having it come crashing down in the middle of the night is no fun. Another way to garden vertically is to use vessels hung directly on your walls. 

Watch the Weather

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Normally you would not think the weather could affect your indoor garden, but it can. The amount of humidity in the air can alter the amount of water and fertilizer your plants need. If you live in a cold-weather climate you know how dry your home can feel when the furnace is running. If you notice your skin is dryer than usual it may be time to check your plant watering schedule. And as the days shorten throughout fall and winter you may need to adjust your plants’ placement as they still need light.


The best way to figure out if your indoor plants need to be fertilized is watching them grow. If a plant should be full and bushy but instead looks like a stick with three leaves, you should consider fertilization. Remember, your indoor plants are not continually able to draw nutrients from the indoor soil without some help.

Indoor gardening is a fun way to experiment with herbs, salad greens and flowers. If you have small children, it can be an exciting way to learn the seed germination process, and a garden, even in limited space, enhances and purifies the environment. 

Bonus Tip

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If you’re in need of a starter list of houseplants that might make a great addition to your apartment in the city, check out the list below to get started, and good luck!

Aloe: Aloe vera is best known for its plump leaves that can provide a soothing gel for cuts and burns. Allow the plant’s soil to dry completely in between waterings; depending on the humidity of your home, that may mean watering as little as every two to three weeks.

Snake Plant: The snake plant, also known as mother-in-law’s tongue or ribbon plant (Sansevieria), is a succulent with thick, waxy leaves. It loves being potbound and thrives on being ignored — the perfect plant for two-week vacationers.

Bromeliads: Give bromeliads bright light and they’ll produce colorful foliage and flowers.

Jade: Jade is a low-maintenance succulent houseplant.

Pothos: Pothos, a member of the philodendron family, is fast-growing and has striking variegated leaves.


Rabbit’s Ear: Rabbit’s ear (a member of the kalanchoe family) is a moderately fast grower (about three new leaves every two months) and has hairy leaves that help prevent against water loss due to evaporation.