Gardening Hacks for Every Living Situation

These garden hacks for every living situation can help any beginner cultivate their green thumb!
Looking to incorporate more life into your every day? Consider adding some literal green living things to your life!

Even if you don’t have a yard of your own or if your apartment doesn’t get much sunlight, these top tips have you covered for cultivating your green thumb no matter your living situation!

#ApartmentLife with minimal sunlight and no outside greenscape

Your space could probably use some plants that liven up the scene, while taking up minimal space and needing very little sunlight.

Pack a punch with a pothos plant. Also known as “Devil’s Ivy,” pothos plants grow like crazy, recycle the air, are very hard to kill, and let you know when they need watering (look for droopy leaves). Do your research though if you own a pet — some variations are toxic to cats and dogs.

If you’re looking for something that grows a bit taller that tolerates low light and needs very little water, consider a snake plant (aka sansevieria). Their bold striped, all-leaf peacock-fanned display is sure to be a conversation starter.

Super skeptical about being able to keep any plant alive? Get a ZZ plant. It looks fake — like a plant you’d find in a mall — with hardy, rubbery leaves, but man, can they weather low light and forgetful waterings like a champ!

Just won a lottery spot in the local community garden

To get your seedlings ready pre-planting season, recycle an old egg carton to grow and transport your seeds.

Add some potting mix to each egg slot, plant your desired seeds, and place it on a window sill that has good light.

Then during your community garden’s planting season, bring those seedlings with you to transplant into your plot.

If you’re a big fan of a certain type of vegetable, you can also take those seeds to a local nursery, which can usually cultivate those seeds over the winter months in a greenhouse (for a fee), so the seedlings will be ready for you by spring!

City dweller complete with an Instagram-worthy balcony

If you want to grow produce but are a true newbie, try your hand at herbs first.

Mint is one of the easiest herbs to grow — it’s basically a weed, as it spreads super easily. But don’t plant mint in a garden bed with other plants, as it will quickly take over the entire planter.

Herbs do need good drainage though, so make sure to add stones to the bottom of the pots you’re using.

And cutting herbs is actually good for them (if they aren’t cut down, they turn to seed which reduces their flavor), so use that homegrown seasoning on your grub and muddle the leaves for your cocktails!

Pro tip for any potted plant: line the bottom of the pot with a coffee filter, then put stones and planting soil on top; the filter will keep dirt from falling out of the bottom of the pot.

You own a home and are ready to get your hands dirty

Before you move that first shovel of dirt, make sure you know these five planting tips.

  1. Don’t buy your plants until you’ve got a good idea of where the sunlight touches your property, for how long each day, and if trees or shrubs cast shadows over certain areas.
  2. How well a plant grows is highly dependent on its main source of food — the sunlight it gets — and how receptive it is (or not) to extended periods of sun.

    Double-check your cardinal directions, and make sure to account for the sun rising in the east and setting in the west.

  3. Did you know there’s a right and a wrong way to dig a hole for a new plant?
  4. It’s more important to dig a wider (rather than deeper) hole in the ground, then fill in the dirt around it. This process gives the plant’s roots the chance to not just extend down for water, but also horizontally.

    As far as the depth of the hole — when the plant is placed in the hole, the top of the plant’s crown should be even with the soil level. Burying the plant deeper than soil level can kill the plant.

  5. Once you’ve planted it, make sure to water.
  6. When watering a new plant for the first time, point the hose at the base of the plant and soak the soil.

    Depending on the plant, you may need to water daily for the first week or so, then space out future watering.

  7. If you’re just at a loss, drive around your neighborhood for some free, tried-and-true research.
  8. What your neighbors can grow in their yards will likely also thrive in yours. Take note of the types of plants that grow well for others to take stock of what you could include in your landscaping.

  9. Your local nursery is your friend.
  10. If plants don’t seem to be taking, visit your local nursery and bring a sample of your soil. They can walk through your problem areas for free and offer expert advice as to which plants they recommend.

    Your local nursery can also give you an idea of how large plants will get so you don’t end up planting bushes too close together and having to transplant them later.

Just remember — landscaping and gardening flourishes over years, not days. Think about the long-term health of your garden, and fill in as you go. Neither Rome nor its garden was built in a day.

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