How to start, maintain and enjoy a small garden


Small, sunny spaces are ideal for container gardening. Let your imagination be your guide in planning a garden

Julie Sturgeon

Small gardens can be created in the tiniest of spaces. What makes small gardens special is the versatility they lend to gardening. Planters can be arranged side by side, in rows or in terraced columns on a garden “shelf.”

As far as plant selection, herbs and vegetables are popular small garden choices during Florida’s winter months.

“It would really depend on what you want to do,” said Sally Scalera, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences (IFAS) extension agent. “Just make sure not to use too many large plants, because they can cast shade on other plants.”

Planning the garden is an important step, and it also is part of the fun. There is no limit to how creative a garden can be.

Perhaps one of the easiest gardens to maintain is an herb garden. Basil, parsley, oregano and thyme all grow well during the winter months in Florida. Positioning a garden near the backdoor makes it more visible. Herb leaves can be snipped daily and added to recipes.

In the yard, a raised bed garden means that you can use enriched soil, and plants will not have to compete with yard landscaping. On the porch or patio, containers make ideal pots for herbs.

“The biggest thing to keep in mind is to match the watering conditions to the type of plant you are using,” Scalera said. “You also need to consider the amount of sun the area gets.”

A gardening plan should start with deciding what type of garden you want, such as vegetables or herbs. Next, locate the ideal space for your garden, in an area that gets enough sunlight.

Determine the watering needs for your garden and plan around sprinklers if in the yard. Design your garden by drawing a sketch or outlining it with cord in the yard.

Stumped for ideas? Talk to experts at the extension agency or your local gardening store.

When you are satisfied with your plan, set out to buy plants or seeds from your local gardening center. Buy containers or barrier material, if necessary. Prepare the soil and plot.

Finally, dig in and get your hands dirty by planting your garden, and check on it daily.

For general gardening questions, call 321-633-1702, contact or go to

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