Creative Gardening Options for you small space.

If a first grader can grow a bean with a wet paper towel on a sunny windowsill, you can create a garden, regardless of how much space you have to work with. Calgary boasts properties that have expansive back yards perfect for growing your own organic veggies and fruits. We also have condos that have big windows flooded with sunlight and apartments with patios to take advantage of for gardening. There are also many Calgary communities that have started community/ shared garden projects where you can flex your green thumb if you want more space than your property offers. Whatever you have, there are possibilities that will help you spruce up your outdoor space.

If your interested in starting a community garden project in your neighbourhood, there are some guidelines the City of Calgary has set out. First, get in touch with your community or residents association to see if there has been an initiative set that they’re looking for more support with membership.  If there hasn’t been a group set up, you can be the trailblazer to start it. You’ll have to determine an ideal location for the garden, considering things like how close to roadways, schools, public vs. private access points as well as utilities availability.

Once you’ve harnessed the community support, you’ll need to make your application to the City of Calgary Parks division. Applications are accepted year-round and reviewed with the understanding that each garden proposal will be different based on the community and the purpose behind the garden. In addition to the application, a checklist of requirements needs to be adhered to, check it out here. If your garden is approved, there is even funding available from the City as well as the Community Garden Resource Network.

Calgary communities with shared garden spaces

Acadia Community Garden

Community Crops Garden Project

South Calgary

Currie Booster

Alternative High

Richmond Knob Hill

Banff Trail Community Garden

Brentwood Community Gardening Group

Capitol Hill Garden

Chaparral Community Green Thumbs

Cliff Bungalow- Mission Garden

Coventry Hills Community Garden

Hillhurst- Sunnyside Gardens

Inglewood Community Garden

Mid- Sun Community Gardens

Northside Tuxedo Garden

Somerset Bridlewood Garden

Southwood Community Gardens

Tuscany Garden

West Hillhurst Community Association Garden

Wildwood Community Garden

Small Spaces, Big Potential.

Here are just a few ideas of how to make the most of your small outdoor, or indoor, space your looking to transform. 

Planter Boxes 

They can be as large or small as you want and don’t need to be the traditional “box” if you’re looking for something more unique to spruce up your space. There are however, some necessary pointers to keep in mind. You’ll want to make sure to line the bottom of whatever container you’re working with, with a plastic liner, then drill a few holes in the bottom & a shallow layer of gravel to promote drainage. Depending what you want to grow in your box, take a little time to research the best soil mixture & fertilizers for optimal growth. 

If you’re looking for building tutorials or ideas for planter boxes, Pinterest is a great place to start!

Growing your own veggies in planter boxes is a great way to ease into gardening. Before you decide what to grow, know where you’re going to put the box because sun exposure will make a big difference in what you can grow. A couple of commonly grown veggies that thrive in Calgary’s Spring/ Summer climate & taste so much better than their supermarket counterparts, are peas, beans, lettuce, carrots, squash, beets & tomatoes. Also a quick heads up, if you’re planter box is going to be on the ground floor of a condo or you’ve leased a shared garden plot, be aware of Calgary’s wildlife and their potential to indulge in your garden. If you’re worried you might come back to pulled up carrots or lettuce that was chowed down on, you can purchase wire or mesh covers to protect your crops.

Window Boxes

It you don’t have the ground space for planter boxes, window boxes are another great alternative, plus they don’t need to be hung off windows. Balcony railings work perfectly for window boxes, or  if you use small boxes they can be place in the middle of tables to serve a centre pieces. Window box planters can be purchased from your local home improvement store or garden centre & come in a variety of sizes that will look proportionate for your space. 

So what do you want to grow? Window boxes are perfect for planting annual flowers, either from seed or seedlings. If you decide to plant a flowering window box, annual flowers will let you change the look of your window box each year & you’ll really get to explore the different types of flowers you can grow! If you’re looking for something lower maintenance, you can also choose perennial flowers & greenery which will germinate year after year, with the appropriate care. If you’re not sure where to start, just visit a garden centre around March to, when flowers & plants first come in, & speak with once of the gardening pros. This will give you enough time to start your project so you’re not playing catch up!


Another great option for smaller window boxes is growing a herb garden. They are relatively low maintenance but will give you fresh tasty herbs that you can use in your culinary creations. Starting herbs can take a little more time and usually need to be started indoors until they have a good hold, then can be moved outdoors.

The Latest Trend- Living Walls.

If you really are short on outdoor square footage, take the idea of a garden & flip it on its head! First you’re going to need a vertical garden planter. You can buy these prefabbed or really get your hands dirty and build one yourself using different materials from old shipping pallets to wire fence remnants. With living walls, you can customize the size you want to commit to. Some you can build onto an existing fence, if you have one, but if your in a condo or apartment and only have a patio area to work with, these vertical gardens are really easy to accommodate to your space.

The beauty of these vertical gardens is that you can grow everything from flowers & greenery to vegetables, especially veggies like tomatoes, peppers & squash that like to have something climb as they grow. Living walls still require all the maintenance of a regular garden, proper sunlight, water, soil care and fertilization, but they are show stoppers and a great twist on what people expect to see! 

Not sure if you want to commit to your own garden, consider becoming a volunteer gardener with these organizations.

Fort Calgary Community Garden

Grow Calgary- benefiting Calgary International Food Bank


Do you have a great idea on how to garden in a small space? We’d love to hear it!  

Posted by Marnie Campbell on


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