Top 5 Apartment Hunting Tips for Apartment Gardeners

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Love plants? Like plants? Feel indifferent? Whether you’re a true green thumb or someone who could kill a cactus, plants can bring you and your living space some much-needed life, color, and oxygen. The experienced gardener and the novice plant owner can both benefit from the following list of features to look for in a plant-friendly dwelling.

1. Loads of light

Not all plants need a lot of light (though all need some). However, those that do need tons of sun can’t live without it, while those that don’t can easily be moved to a low-sun spot indoors. Make sure your new apartment has at least one big window (or perhaps a glass patio door) as well as some outdoor space (a porch or balcony), that can provide your plants with light for several hours a day. You can always move plants around to adjust their exposure, but you can’t create opportunities to absorb sunlight where none exist. A sunny apartment is a plant-friendly apartment; a dark apartment can be depressing for both you and your chlorophyll-filled friends. If you fall in love with a place that doesn’t have much light, buy suitable plants.

2. Plenty of porch (or window, or balcony) space

Since plants thrive outdoors in natural light, it’s great to keep them there. It’s also less messy to do your gardening work outside. If you don’t have a backyard (not likely in an apartment setting), a balcony, porch, rooftop, or windowbox can also do the trick. If you’re coming from an environment with more space, it’s important to be aware of the limitations that can come with living in an apartment. You’re by no means constricted, but you may need to get creative: use that tiny balcony to its fullest by getting a trellis, make sure to hang multiple plants, and employ shelves or benches to stack pots and maximize the potential of your available space.

3. Room to roam (up or out)

You’ll probably want to place your plants on something other than the ground, both for aesthetic reasons and for easier access when watering or performing other routine care. Placing plants on furniture or shelving will also provide you with more space for your plants without sacrificing your ability to store or display other household items. When planning your plant setup, take into account where you might want to put shelves or other furniture for your plants. Avoid the temptation to go overboard. Remember that plants are beautiful, but space is practical, and shelving can help you store plants and other items (kitchen utensils, books, DVDs, other media) without taking up extra floor space.

4. A laid-back landlord

If you’re a “supergardener”, you may want to get an apartment in a laid-back complex where the landlord won’t have a problem with you installing hooks in the ceiling so you can hang your geraniums, or building windowboxes to house your collection of marigolds. A garden-friendly landlord will also be more accommodating to your desire to plant flowers on the rooftop, and might even find a way to get you some yard space in which to work—free landscaping for the building, more gardening fun for you. Talk to your landlord before signing a lease to get an idea of the flexibility available for gardening options.

5. Community gardens

Small herbs and decorative plants are easy to grow in an apartment setting, as are some tall plants, but growing significant amounts of food requires a bit more space. If you’re into growing your own edible items, consider living in a cooperative community or in an apartment complex near a community garden. Not only will you love your living space that much more because it’s near a great garden, but you’ll also make friends and be able to indulge your green thumb frequently. Check with the American Community Garden Association or local gardening groups for assistance finding a community garden near you.

Apartment living doesn’t have to be the end of your gardening career—in fact, it’s just the beginning! Learn about herbs and small ornamental plants, dive into windowbox or rooftop gardening, and get creative with your plant arrangements. Your friends with traditional gardens will be amazed by how much you can do with so little space.

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