Gardening in any sized space

Believe you need an acre of property to start gardening? Think again. Individuals can grow their own patch of greenery in just about any space they have on hand.

When it comes time to getting your hands dirty, it doesn't matter if there are rolling hills or a single container filled with soil on which to plant. Although many gardening professionals present plans for larger-scale gardens, it's possible to create smaller-scale options that require a great deal less maintenance and upkeep.

To get started, homeowners or apartment dwellers need to first look at the space they have. Perhaps this is a few flower pots or a small square of exposed dirt in an otherwise concrete jungle. Others may have an expansive backyard in which to toil in the soil. Either way, knowing what you have to work with can help home gardeners map out a more successful plan of action.

Next, it's important to consider the climate and the soil conditions. Soil can be amended to a point, but plants that require a lot of water may not do well in an area plagued by drought.

Color is another thing to consider. Gardeners with smaller spaces may want to think about keeping gardens mainly monochromatic, which will look more cohesive. Cool-colored flowers and plants will help make a garden look larger. Warm-colored flowers will add impact and could create a cozier feel.

Hanging baskets and raised containers can add height and free up more floor space for gardens. They're particularly helpful when space is at a premium. Keep in mind that baskets and containers tend to dry out easily, so using peat moss, vermiculite and other products that tend to hold onto water will help keep the soil moist. These containers also may need to be watered more frequently.

Containers also can be used to plant small trees or shrubs. Use them for vegetable plants as well. The advantage to containers is they can be moved elsewhere if a plant is not thriving in a particular area.

People who have an extremely space with which to work may be limited to a few flower pots in the window, but they can easily grow herbs or annual flowers.

Those who have a large space may want to consider breaking the landscape down into smaller quadrants; otherwise, the garden can seem unruly. Use hardscape materials, such as mulch, rocks, boulders, and slate to break up the greenery (and also cut down on items that need pruning and watering).

Individuals who don't know where to start can page through gardening magazines for ideas. Alternatively, they can consult with an area landscaper to find out which plants will do well.