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banish the balcony blues big plans for small gardens 
by Sarah Goldstein
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As a new apartment dweller fresh out of the parental nest, I dreamt of having a beautiful garden. I wanted glorious tropical flowers, thriving ferns and a burbling creek. Or perhaps a formally arranged kitchen garden, with tufts of delicious herbs to add to my cooking. I wanted something to prune, weed, tend and fertilise, to care for and make beautiful.

Like most apartment dwellers though, I had no space for landscaping and trees. Instead, there was solid concrete on all sides of my small apartment block, with a postage stamp of dirt out the front. I added a row of geraniums in ugly black pots out the back and called it a day. It wasn't what I'd imagined, but I had no idea how to create a garden in the inauspicious surroundings in which I found myself. (Also, I had important beer, parties and boys to attend to, plus classes I occasionally attended…)

Fast forward eight years and a few different rented places, and I now have a garden that's closer to what I imagined. I've lived in the current rental for a year, and in that time I've turned a couple of small patches of dirt out the back into a lush garden with a barbecue, added a few plants to the front garden so the house looks prettier from the street, and created a great potted kitchen garden by the side of the house. It's taken a few weekends of hard work, a little ongoing care and very little money. Having a garden, I've discovered, isn't just for those lucky enough to own their own plot of land.

Gardening is to the outside of your place what decorating is to the inside: if you want the inside to look great, you decorate; for the outside, you garden. Creating a great garden makes your place looks nicer, gives you a prettier view and can provide you with fresh herbs and flowers too. It can be intimidating to start a garden though, especially when you live in a rental and have minimal outdoor space of your own. Still, with just a little sensible planning, anyone can do it.

Here's what you need to know to start a garden: where to put it, what you need, where to get it cheaply, and most importantly, how to make it grow.

keep on digging: more this way...


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