Turn your small space into a flourishing spring garden

If lack of space is your reason for not getting into the spirit of spring with flowers and fresh vegetables, it's time to stop the excuses. Whether you live in a small home or a 10th-floor apartment, these simple tips will enliven your patio or balcony " and have you biting into a fresh homegrown tomato by summer's end.


Urban dwelling in Oklahoma City is on the rise with condos, lofts and upscale apartments up for grabs. Create a spring and summer retreat with lush green plants, budding blooms and a few decorative containers brimming with culinary possibility. With just the right plants and tools, your garden will be a success. So why not get your hands dirty? Not only will the beauty speak for itself, it'll be simple, cheap and still leave room for you (and a few party guests).

Much like us, plants aren't spry without sunshine and water. Be sure there is ample light and access to water on your patio, doorstep or rooftop. Invest in a watering can or small hose that can transfer water from the kitchen faucet to the patio or balcony. Most small spaces will have the best of both sunshine and shade, allowing many options for bright annuals. 

"Almost anything can be planted and grown in a pot," said Linda Shackelford, co-owner of TLC Florist & Greenhouses, with two locations in Oklahoma City. "And anyone can find a small space somewhere that can be made more beautiful."

Container gardening is a simple and manageable way to grow fresh vegetables, herbs and your favorite warm-weather flowers.

"The main thing you want to look for are proper pots and baskets," said Kelly Marcum, co-owner of Marcum's Nursery in Oklahoma City. "Hanging baskets are great to attach to overhead awnings because they enhance the space without crowding it."

Trailing plants, such as sweet potato vine and verbena, are ideal for hanging baskets, creating a balanced space by offsetting pots on the floor. For added height, include trellises with clever annual vines, like hyacinth beans for texture or bougainvilleas for color.

If you have a sturdy railing, attach an elongated basket, known as a garden trough, to the outside. By facing the trough outward, it won't take up any extra space and will allow your product to be enjoyed from the outside looking in, as well as the view looking out.

Marcum recommended lining both hanging and trough-type baskets with coco liners, which have an elegant organic look while keeping the dirt in place. Coco liners also provide even oxygen flow and moisture to the basket's contents. 

Don't be afraid to look outside the box. Pots of various sizes and colors can create a unique space and be filled with a variety of color combinations. Try planting a narrow, vertical plant like buckthorn, and supplement the outer rim of the pot with lobelia, which produces cheerful blue flowers.

"Tropical plants are also good for patios that have filtered to full sun," Marcum said.

Fill empty corners with tropicals like bananas and palms that grow upward, leaving ample space for containers filled with delicious edibles like herbs and veggies. 

"We've already gotten a lot of interest in growing vegetables in containers," Shackelford said. "A person is hooked for life after a bite of that freshly grown tomato."

In fact, most vegetables can be grown in pots, including radishes, cucumbers, lettuce, peppers and even carrots. Try using carrots and different varieties of lettuce as borders around annuals in a pot to do double duty as both beauty and bounty. 

"People are concerned about the safety of their food," Shackelford said. "By growing your own, you don't have to worry about a thing." "Valerie Kramer Davis

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