Are you looking for ways to transform your outdoor space into something more inviting and productive? Here are 5 simple garden ideas you can easily follow.
Whether you have a large garden, a tiny postage-stamp sized townhouse backyard or just a balcony or patio in an apartment or condo building, you can transform your outdoor space into something better.
Here are 5 simple garden ideas from the Tranquil Garden eBook that can be applied in any of these situations. Each idea consists of:
- a summary of how much time and money ($$ = under $50, $$$ = under $500) it will cost and which of the five senses it satisfies
- an introduction outlining the problem it solves and the benefits it brings
- action steps detailing the simple steps to follow
- tips to help you get the most out of the idea
Need more that just these 5 simple garden ideas? Purchase the eBook and get an additional 20 ideas you can follow. That’s less than a dollar per idea!
Buy the Tranquil Garden eBook for all of the 25 ideas and make some amazing progress in your outdoor space!
1. Add Edibles In Between Flowers
- Time: 1 hour
- Cost: $$
- Senses: Sight, Taste, Smell
Does your garden lack colour in your flower beds or seating areas? Are you tight on space to grow vegetables?
You can solve both of these problems by planting vegetables in your flower beds or in containers. The more colourful vegetable plants do not need to be confined to a dedicated vegetable garden.
Instead plant the odd eggplant or pepper plant in a flower bed or container. The bright colours of both the flowers and fruit will complement the overall design of the bed or seating area well.
Add some bright greenery with lettuce or other greens. And for a rainbow hue of coloured leaves, go for a swath of Bright Lights Swiss chard, which will brighten up any dreary corner of a flower bed or seating area with deep yellows, bright reds and various shades of green.
And the added bonus of course is that you can feed your family directly from your flower garden or seating area. A very effective use of space in your tranquil garden!
- Pick out the vegetables that are colourful enough to plant in your flower beds or in containers. Some examples:
- Eggplants, especially Fairytale or other striped varieties
- Peppers, either bell or hot peppers, they come in all colours including green, red, orange, yellow, purple and even an almost black
- Scarlet Runner Beans, mainly grow for their blossoms which are a bright red
- Tomatoes, lots of colours again to choose from
- Swiss Chard, especially Bright Lights variety
- Lettuces, especially a mix of red and green, the more vibrant colours the better
- Start seeds or purchase seedlings. Lettuce and Swiss chard can be direct seeded but mark where they are, otherwise you may pull them up thinking they are weeds!
- If started as seeds, transplant the seedlings out once they are big enough and the weather has warmed up (especially important for eggplants and peppers)
- Plant in between your flowers. If planting more than one plant in a small area, try to plant an odd number as that looks better.
- As plants grow water and fertilize as with your other plants. If the weather is cool, you can protect them with individual cloches.
- Remember to harvest your veggies! With the greens like lettuce and chard, you can just harvest the outside leaves and leave the rest to continue to grow.
- Keep in mind companion planting. Some flowers are actually very beneficial for vegetable plants in keeping pests away.
- Keep in mind plants that should not be planted together, otherwise one will inhibit the other’s growth.
- For trellised vegetables such as scarlet runner beans avoid placing these where they will shade other sun-loving plants.
2. Add Fragrance With Flowers
- Time: 1 hour
- Cost: $$
- Senses: Smell, Sight
When you are in your garden, do you notice the lack of good scents? Do you just smell damp earth, rotting vegetation and the stink of your neighbour’s lawn mower?
Would you like to inject some nice smells into your garden? This is easy and inexpensive to do by adding some scented flowers.
Roses are the most popular as they are heavily scented blossoms and some smell like exotic perfumes you can only buy in very small bottles for outrageous prices.
Sweet peas are a favourite, especially among cottage garden growers. They have the advantage of taking up very little horizontal space as they are usually trained on a vertical trellis.
The side benefit of most scented flowers is that they also provide a visual interest in the garden. And most can be cut and brought indoors in a vase.
The great thing is that you can plant as many scented flowers as you have room and the budget for in order to create the perfect tranquil garden.
- Pick the types of flowers you would like. Some possible ideas include:
- Lily of the valley
- Sweet peas
- Buy seeds, bulbs, seedlings or plants.
- If planting climbing varieties such as climbing roses or sweet peas, erect a trellis or support if you don’t already have one. There are many options.You can check my Pinterest board https://www.pinterest.ca/atranquilgarden/tranquil-garden-construction/trellises-arbours-pergolas-screens/ for some ideas.
- Plant amongst other flowers in your flower beds. Keep them watered and fertilized as with your other plantings.
- Remember to “Stop and smell the roses” or other flowers as you walk through the garden.
- If you have seasonal allergies, avoid planting strongly scented flowers close to where you normally sit.
- Some flowers are more heavily scented in the evening. Use this time for a relaxing stroll through the garden or to do your maintenance walk-through.
- Avoid conflicting scents planted too close together. This may require some experimentation and you may need to move a plant later.
- Some flowers are more heavily scented when picked and placed in a vase
3. Add Fragrance With Herbs
- Time: 1 hour
- Cost: $$
- Senses: Smell, Sight, Taste
Does your garden lack scents that relax, rejuvenate or refresh? Does it need something special to arouse the senses and provide aromatherapy healing when you walk through your garden?
There are many kinds of herbs you can plant that provide aromatherapy scents in the garden. Just accidentally (or purposefully) brushing against the foliage will usually release a bouquet of heavenly scents.
Probably the most common fragrant herb is lavender. It’s calming, sedating properties are well-known and the striking purple colour is a bonus, providing a visual hit to the eyes as well. And it is often used in baking.
Other herbs that are usually grown for cooking, include thyme, oregano, basil and sage. Dill, fennel and mint are also strong-scented and strong-flavoured herbs.
Herbs don’t need to be relegated to a designated herb garden. They can be spread out among all of your flower beds and containers to impart some scent and visual appeal to your tranquil garden.
- Decide what herbs you would like to grow. Here is a list of ideas:
- basil, bay laurel, borage
- caraway, chamomile, chervil, chives, cilantro
- lavender, lemon balm, lovage
- sage, savoury, sorrel
- Purchase seeds, transplants or plants.
- Plant in pots or other containers, in raised vegetable beds, and amongst other flowers in a flower bed. Be careful with mint as it can take over your whole garden. Plant it in pots to keep it in check.
- Pick often so that they don’t go to seed.
- Water and feed with a water-soluble organic fertilizer such as seaweed or fish.
- Propagate the herbs by taking cuttings.
- The best time to pick herbs is early morning after the dew dries but before the heat of the day
- Dry herbs either in a low temperature oven on a cookie sheet or hang up in a dry, airy place
- Use three times as much fresh herbs as dried herbs in a cooking recipe
- Make a bouquet garni from a bundle or herbs, tied with a string, and use in soups, stocks, stews and casseroles
- Use creeping thyme in walking paths and as a general groundcover; stepping on it releases a great scent
Remember that there is more! 20 more ideas in the eBook as comprehensive as these 5 ideas in this post.
You really shouldn’t miss all 25 ideas! A great investment in improving your garden.
4. Create A Container Water Garden
- Time: 3 hours
- Cost: $$$
- Senses: Sight, Hearing, Smell
Is your garden missing an element of water, sound and visual beauty? Do you need a hint of movement to provide a focal point to a seating area?
While an in-ground water garden or pond is a great way to enhance your garden, you need the space, money and time to install one and maintain it. And if you have a balcony you don’t have that option.
However a water garden in a container is easily achievable for almost anyone on any budget. All you need is a suitable container, a few water plants and pump to circulate the water so it doesn’t breed mosquitoes or get stagnant.
And it can be moved around if needed to accommodate a different seating area or make room for something else.
You could even have a few small fish, which will help to maintain the water quality.
A project like this is a bit more involved because of the number of things you need to buy, but once you have it setup it will provide a great focal point to your tranquil garden.
- Buy all the necessary supplies:
- Water Lily (potted), Oxygenators (floating)
- Fish (optional)
- Find a good location for the water garden. You will need to have an easily accessible electrical outlet that meets your local electrical code for outdoor exposure. And avoid placing it in a high-traffic area where it could get in the way or be bumped.
- If your container has a hole, find a plug that either fits the hole tightly. Use waterproof silicone caulk to glue it in from the inside.
- Install the pump. You may need to use more waterproof silicone caulk to secure it. Route the power cable over the back of the container (it can be hidden by a plant).
- Add the plants. If any are in pots such as lilies, place the pot in the bottom and secure with some small rocks if needed.
- Add water. Use water that has stood for a while to remove chlorine and other contaminants. Rainwater is best for this.
- Add any floating plants to cover the surface of the water by about 3/4 to reduce algae.
- Add fish. Remember to feed them but careful about feeding too much.
- Plug in the pump and enjoy your new water garden! The good thing is that a water garden doesn’t need much care during dry weather, just remember to top up the water as it evaporates.
- If you have very small children, place the water garden where they can’t reach it as babies and toddlers can drown in very shallow water
- For a tidy install, route the power cable through the drain hole of the container if it is big enough to allow the plug to go through. You will need to seal the hole well and raise up the container slightly.
- In winter to avoid frost damage, move the container to a protected area or remove the plants, fish and empty the water
- Once a year or so remove the plants and fish, dump the water out, clean well and then reassemble.
5. Plant Up A Container Salad Garden
- Time: 1 hour
- Cost: $$
- Senses: Taste, Smell, Sight, Touch
Do you buy the over-priced, tasteless salads at your work’s cafeteria or your grocery’s deli? Do you find the cost of organic produce too high to justify it’s benefits? Do you wish you could have a homemade garden-fresh salad to take to work to enjoy at lunchtime? Do you lack the space for a traditional garden?
You can grow the ingredients for a healthy, fresh salad in a medium-sized container on your deck, patio or balcony. By planting some lettuces, herbs, a tomato plant and perhaps also a pepper or cucumber plant, you will have a self-contained produce aisle right in your garden.
In the morning you can pick a tomato, a pepper or cucumber, some lettuce and some herbs, chop them up, add a simple dressing and enjoy a salad that you know where all the ingredients are from and how clean they are.
And think of all the healthy energy you’ll have to do some
work fun in your tranquil garden.
- Find the appropriate container. It should be attractive as it would be most useful having it close to your kitchen or back door. If you are growing a tomato plant, ensure the container is at least 12 inches deep. Ideally it should be at least 20 inches in diameter.
- Fill the container with a good quality potting soil. Avoid using garden soil as it is too heavy for a container.
- Mix in some slow release organic fertilizer.
- Plant either seeds or transplants (purchased or grown by you earlier from seed). For the tomato and cucumbers they will need warm temperatures so if you have a greenhouse, leave the container in there until the weather is warm enough to move it outdoors.
- Water and fertilize regularly. Keep in mind that a container can dry out quickly in the hot summer, so you may need to water twice a day.
- Remember to pick your vegetables as they ripen.
- You may need to seed some more lettuce once the lettuce is spent or if it bolts in hot weather.
- Plant only dwarf tomato plants and keep them pruned to control their size.
- Pick several colours of lettuce. Having red and green together is a pleasing combination.
- If planting a cucumber, provide a simple trellis for the vines to climb up.
- For your salad also consider planting some basil. The basil makes a great companion plant for the tomato.
- When you pick the lettuce, pick just a few leaves and leave the main plant standing. It will keep producing.
Just adding even one of these ideas to your garden space will make a big difference. It will entice you to spend more time in the fresh air which as health benefits all by itself. It will also serve to show others that these 5 simple garden ideas are achievable and possible in any outdoor space regardless of time, money or space available.
I hope these 5 simple garden ideas will inspire you to start on your journey to transform your outdoor space into a more relaxing and productive garden.
If you liked these ideas, you will absolutely love the additional 20 in the eBook!
25 ideas, lots of tips and techniques, all in a beautifully designed eBook.
If you enjoyed this article, have something to add or have any questions, please leave a comment below.
Wishing you all the best!
Tranquil Urban Homestead, Victoria, BC