Backyard Gardening In Small Spaces

If you really want to garden but you don’t have much space, don’t let that deter you. Here are some space-saving gardening ideas that just so happen to be affordable, too.

Rain Gutter Gardening

gutter gardeningRain gutters provide an ideal space for growing salad greens since lettuce, spinach and other greens have shallow root systems. This can be done in March and April since lettuce grows best in cool weather in the springtime. Mount the rain gutters the same way you would along the eves of your house. They don’t take up much space on the side of a shed or any other building. Mount them anywhere you have vertical space, such as on a fence, along a deck railing or under a windowsill. All you have to do is cut the rain gutter to size, cap the ends and drill holes every 6 inches for drainage. You can purchase the supplies to hang them at any place that sells rain gutters.

Supplies needed

  • Rain gutter, any length you desire
  • Rain gutter caps (2 per length)
  • Rain gutter hangers (3-5 per length) mount every 3 feet
  • Drill and 1/8 inch drill bit


  1. Place the length of rain gutter that you desire on a work surface. Clip one rain gutter cap on each end and lock them into place.
  2. Turn the rain gutter upside down on a workbench. Drill 1/8-inch-diameter holes through the rain gutter every 6 inches along the entire length. The holes will allow the rain gutters to drain.
  3. Position the rain gutter hangers along the surface where you want to hang the gutter every 3 to 4 feet. Using a screw gun, drive the screws through the mounting holes in the hangers and into the side of the building or fence to fasten them in place. Slide the gutter into the hangers to lock them in place.
  4. Add potting soil to the gutter and fill it up so that it is level with the top edges of the rain gutter.
  5. You may need a stepladder to reach the top gutter. Water the soil with a sprinkling hose or a watering can. With your finger make a furrow in the center of the soil down the length of the gutter. Plant the lettuce seeds into the furrow, planting approximately 20 seeds per foot. Cover over the seeds with potting soil and gently pack it down with your fingertips.
  6. Water the lettuce often as it grows, keeping the soil moist at all times.

Plant Seedlings In A 2-Liter Soda Bottle

soda bottle planterSave your 2-liter bottles and cut them so the top half fits down into the bottom half. Drill a hole through the center of the lid of the bottle. Put string or a wick through the hole and tie it so it will absorb the water from the bottom of the soda bottle. Fill the bottom of the bottle with water. Invert the top of the bottle and fill it with potting soil. Make sure you keep enough water in the bottom of the soda bottle so it will water itself. This would be a great project for children to plant seeds in bottles, place them in a windowsill and watch them grow.

Cinderblock Herb Garden

cinderblock planterIf you live in a place that has limited space for a garden and you want to grow an herb garden, this project might be the answer for you. It doesn’t take up much space and can be planted along the side of a building or fence.

Glue wire mesh screen under each hole in the block with cinderblock adhesive. This can be purchased at any hardware store. Cover the inside of the hole with a square of garden weed barrier fabric or burlap to keep the soil from falling through the screen. Design the cinderblocks in a way that you will get the maximum amount of growing space. Fill each hole with potting soil and plant your favorite herbs in each open block. The blocks that are directly over another block do not need a mesh screen.

Cinderblocks come in many decorative styles and can be purchased at places such as Lowe’s, Home Depot or any outdoor garden store where they sell brick and block. You can get started now and have a fresh herb garden by summer.

Pallet Gardening

pallet gardeningPallets can be recycled and used to grow vegetables. You can grow your salad greens in a small amount of space. In doing the research for this article, I searched for pallet gardening ideas. It was amazing how many different ways there are to grow food in pallets. The easiest way is to place a pallet on the ground, fill it with potting soil and use the slated wood openings to plant in. I have even seen them standing up alongside a fence or building. With a little remodeling you can make planter boxes with the pallet standing straight up. I have seen people put screen mesh on the back and under each slat to hold the dirt. It works the best for smaller plants with shallow root systems, like salad greens.

Old-Window Hot Houses

old window hot housesThese easy-to-make old-window hot houses can be made from recycled materials. Build raised bed grow boxes out of railroad ties, pretreated wood or even cinderblocks. Collect old windows and place hinges at the top of them so they can be folded up and saved for the next spring. Secure them inside a raised bed in the shape of a tepee. These windows warm the soil and protect the plants from freezing on cold mornings. These tepee hot houses can be built in a small amount of space and even in a flowerbed alongside the house. They give vegetables a head start in the springtime.

ION (Stabilized Oxygen) For Gardening

ION Stabilized Oxygen 2 oz. bottleION is such a versatile product. I use ION to water my plants. I mix 20 drops of ION with 1 gallon of water. It kills anaerobic bacteria, fungus and some viruses that might be causing the plants to deteriorate and not be as healthy as they could be.

I also use 20 drops of ION mixed with 1 gallon of water for soaking my vegetables. ION will kill harmful bacteria that might be on the vegetables. Just mix it up in a large bowl and soak the vegetables for about 20 minutes, then rinse them well.

ION will help build the friendly flora, and it oxygenates the plants. Vegetables will grow so much better with stabilized oxygen in the water.

There are several chapters on alternative gardening methods in my book Emergency Food Storage and Survival Handbook. Check it out here.

–Peggy Layton


Rate this post

Peggy Layton