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Garden Tips

Enjoy More Plants in Less Space
By: Bob Beyer, Travis County Master Gardener

If you are a lover of all types of plants like I am, but only have a postage stamp sized yard, there are ways! Strategies that I use are:

  • Grow miniature or dwarf varieties of a particular favorite plant when available. Commonly grown plants available in dwarf forms include roses, Plumeria, Daylilies, Hummingbird bush, Oleander, Ornamental grasses, Crepe Myrtle, Pomegranate, Barbados Cherry, Eleagnus, Sages, various tropicals such as Cannas, Bananas, just to name a few.

  • Grow plants with upright growth forms or train shrubbery to grow in tree form when possible, which frees up ground space for more plants below. This is a form of layering plants to allow more texture and color contrast to be displayed in limited ground space.

  • Grow plants in unconventional places or use plant containers for hardscape areas. I mount bromeliads on dead cedar, hang staghorn ferns, plant sedums in limestone rock niches.

  • Each growing season, change out your garden plantings so you gain experience in growing more types and specific plants. In my limited native plant area, I switch out a couple each year to learn about growing a wider variety of native and adaptive plants over time than my limited space will permit. In addition, the variety and change from year to year is refreshing.

  • Often a different species of a plant, or different cultivars (e.g. variegated plants which grow at a much slower rate), are smaller, more compact and take less garden space.

  • Downsize plants periodically. An example would be that some Agaves grow to a very large size, but when they outgrow the garden space, you can harvest pups, digging up the large parent plant and replanting it with the pup. This way, you can enjoy the beauty of larger plants in smaller sizes and spaces.

  • Consolidate like plants into a single container, e.g. a miniature cacti dish, or multiple varieties of the same plant that are compatible in a single container. Hanging baskets are good for this and can be hung from tree branches or other supports.

I hope these suggestions allow you to experiment with a wider variety of plants even when limited in actual square footage of garden space. The more types of plants you grow, the more diversity in color, texture, and form you can create in your garden.

Saving garden space

 
©Zilker Botanical Garden,
Austin Area Garden Council
512.477.8672
info@zilkergarden.org