The housing market is going a little haywire right now. Experts predict that mortgage rates will, sadly, be going up over the next year, meaning that it might become harder for Millennials or other first-time buyers to enter the market and buy their dream home.
That might be disappointing to hear if you had your heart set on a big house with a large outdoor space. But living in a small space needn’t put you off gardening altogether.
Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your outdoor space, regardless of its size.
The most important thing for first-time gardeners to understand is how the climate will affect anything you plant. You can find your garden’s zone through the USDA website, and will also find a few tips on how to best align your garden with its respective “hardiness” zone.
However, the best way to find out what grows optimally in your zone is to research independent bloggers who garden in the same zone. Let’s say, for example, you live in zone 6. Well, a quick google search will lead you to someone like Sally Painter, who recommends things like sowing your seeds inside, then moving them out into your yard around May. You’ll also find other bits of info like freezing dates and information about plants that will do you particularly well.
Over time, you’ll find a blogger in your garden zone that you resonate with and trust. They’ll help you avoid a few blunders, and will help to ensure your garden looks wonderful through the seasons.
Grow Your Own
It is possible to grow fruit and vegetables even in the smallest of spaces. All you need is adequate sunlight, the right-sized pot, and a handful of seeds. And, eating your own fruit and veggies on a summer or fall day is one of life’s greatest delights — it’s also one of the most sustainable actions you can take in your own home.
Getting started with fruit and veg can be a little daunting, so choosing a forgiving, relatively easy plant to grow is important. Here are a few fruits and veggies that require little space and are popular with first-time gardeners:
You can grow all of these plants from seed packets that you’ll find at your local garden center. They might require a little extra attention in the early days, as you’ll need to re-pot seedlings at the right time. Otherwise, ample sunlight and semi-regular watering will yield you a delicious and rewarding crop in a few months’ time.
Wildlife and Nature
There’s something special about seeing wildlife in your garden. When a robin or finch takes a drink from the water bowl you set out or perches in your bird box, it suddenly transforms into a treasured moment that you may have otherwise ignored.
But, most of the time, a gardener’s relationship to wildlife is less like Snow White and the forest animals, and more like Barton Fink swiping at his infamous mosquito. It’s hard to enjoy your outdoor space when it is constantly being invaded by mosquitoes and wasps, but there are a few natural steps you can take before you bust out the bug spray.
In particular, you’ll want to invest in mosquito repellent plantslike basil, lavender, marigolds, or peppermint. The other bonus of these plants is that they can all be grown in pots. So, it might be a great idea to place lavender and basil near your back door, and then strategically intermingle marigolds amongst your other plants if they seem to be attracting unwanted bugs.
Hosting Outdoor Events
There’s something remarkably mature about hosting an outdoor event at your home. You get to show off your garden and seeing others enjoy the outdoor space you worked hard to create is a reward in itself.
However, just telling folks to head out back probably won’t cut it. You still need to make changes to your outdoor space before your guests arrive to ensure your outdoor event is a success. This needn’t be particularly time-consuming or expensive — a few fairy lights, an umbrella for shade, and a quick seating shuffle ought to do the trick.
Making the most of your outdoor space requires a little research, a small investment of time and money, and a healthy dose of care. You can start by planting easy veggies like cucumbers and tomatoes, and should consider utilizing bug-repellant plants like lavender and marigold to ensure you can enjoy your outdoor space all year round.
Ainsley Lawrence is a freelance writer with an interest in topics related to how education, business, and technology intersect with the personal. She enjoys travelling to beautiful places and learning more about her cultural and environmental surroundings. You can connect with Ainsley on Twitter and Contently.