One of the true joys of home ownership is having a plot of land to grow plants in.  But what if you don’t own a home or your home only has a tiny plantable area?  Today we are going to talk about creative and beautiful ways to plant in small areas.

Small garden ideas: the Bonsai

The word Bonsai comes from the Japanese word “bon” which means tray or low sided pot and “sai” which means plant.  This Japanese art originated from a similar Chinese art form that cultivated miniature trees in small containers.

The Japanese art dates back over 1000 years and consists of pruning, root reduction, potting and grafting to produce small trees that resemble the shape and style of the original full size tree.

These trees can grow to be hundreds of years old and it is considered a great honor to be handed the tradition of caring for a tree that has been in the family for generations.

Today there are many types of bonsai trees that you can buy and due to their small size, they will fit into any space from a small personal garden to a tiny corner of a community space in your apartment building.

Small garden ideas: the edible garden

For many people, fruit trees conjure up memories of lazy summer afternoons and porch swings with fresh squeezed lemonade.  Was there anything more exciting than picking fruit right off the tree as a kid?  Unfortunately if you are short on space, a full lemon or apple orchard is out of the question.   And that’s where grafting comes in.

Grafting is the process of clipping a bud from a mature fruit tree, pruning the leaves, shaving the outer layers away and inserting it into the root stalk of a different tree with a vigorous root system.

The graft then becomes a miniature version of the parent tree.  The new tree will be as vigorous and productive as the tree that the piece of scion wood came from.

There are many benefits to grafting:

First, if you plant a seedling tree, it might take 12+ years for the tree to bear fruit.  However, grafted trees usually begin to produce in their 3rd or 4th year.

Second, grafted trees can be smaller than the original trees which is great for small spaces.

Third, if you want a certain type of fruit that doesn’t typically grow in your region due to incompatibility between the roots and prevailing soil conditions, you can simply graft the bud of the tree who’s fruit you would like to bear to the root stalk of a tree that’s root system thrives in your area.  This is the reason why California is able to grow so many different types of oranges.

If you really want to get fancy, you can plant a “salad” tree.  This is a tree that has oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, all grafted onto the same tree and planted in one pot.

Small garden ideas: an espalier

Espalier is the practice of controlling tree and other woody plant growth for the production of fruit by pruning and tying branches of the tree to a framework that causes them to grow into a flat plane.

These frames can be structured as ornamental patterns and are often placed near a wall or fence making them remarkably efficient at saving space.

No matter how small your garden is there are creative and beautiful ways to bring it to life with plants.  If you are short on space, try the Bonsai, and edible gardens with espalier small garden ideas and you will not be disappointed.