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City Gardening

City Gardening

Balcony and Rooftop gardens

Being in a city isn’t the be all and end all for gardening! Similarly if you can’t get an allotment or even don’t think that you could manage such a big task there are still gardening opportunities! Here are a few clever tips and tricks for making the most of that space, be it a balcony, rooftop or windowsill!

Top tips

To start with;

  1. Go gradually; add a few plants at a time and see how well they do in your balcony/ roof’s climate. It is also a good test to see whether you will look after them, before you spend any money on them!
  2. Watch the sun; how much sun exposure does this area get? 8 hours of sunlight classifies as full sun, partial shade is 4-6 hours and shade is anything under 4 hours. Plant labels are clear about which the plant requires although if you are unsure any of our experts in store would be more than happy to help you.
  3. Think about water; being on top of the roof may make watering hard. This is why something like a water butt is a great solution. Also use water retention techniques like mulching; try using bark or wood chips. For something more interesting you can also use pebbles or gravel. Read our watering guide for pot plants here.
  4. Prepare for wind; being on top of the roof there will be very little shelter so it is a good idea to incorporate a wind break to protect your plants.
  5. Storage; where will you store your tools, compost etc? There are plenty of options including small waterproof boxes, shelving or bench seating with some storage beneath.
  6. Furniture; if you have space for a small table and chairs this is a great spot for relaxation and a haven away from city life.
  7. Lighting; if you are planning to relax there and garden in the evenings after work then you will need some lighting. Why fuss about getting electricity working up on your rooftop or outside when you can so easily install effective and attractive solar lights!


8. Have a base; a selection of a few evergreen plants will mean that you have greenery all year round and that your balcony never looks bare or desolate.

9. Think vertical; make the most of the height! Upwards rather than outwards will save a lot of space and can also look really interesting. For example by piling up to 5 different size pots on top of each other (a wooden rod through the middle) you can grow 5 separate containers and only take up one part of the ground!

10. Flowers never go a miss! Adding a hint of colour amongst the green can have a huge impact and make the space look bigger and more interesting. At the same time, be careful not too add to much colour! Stick to around 3 shades of colour to prevent the small area looking too busy and crowded.

11. Place strategically; a few simple tricks of the eye can help make your area look a lot bigger. Using the height will help, similarly placing mirrors will make it feel much bigger

12. Go! Add in your containers and raised beds wherever you can fit them and start planting!

Fruit and Veg

Even growing a small amount of fresh food to incorporate into your diet and cooking will be worth it! Keep in mind that your fruit and veggies may have less growing room than they would normally. Compensate for this with high quality soil and composts.

The best fruit and vegetables for small spaces;

  • Herbs; these all grow well in small containers. You can grow a great combination of herbs and they are a great bit of fresh produce to start with. Why not try a medicinal herb garden? Read all about how to create and use one here.
  • Blueberries; these can grow in any container over 45cm! All they require is regular watering, an acidic compost and an ericaceous fertiliser
  • Chillies and peppers
  • Salad; cut and come again salad leaves are great, the yield is high and they can be grown in any container!
  • Tomatoes; tomatoes will grow perfectly in containers. Just stake them early and keep them well watered. Alternatively you can plant them in hanging baskets!

Hanging baskets

Hanging baskets are great for space saving and you can even have containers below to double your growing space! So many surprising things can be grown in hanging baskets including;

Strawberries, tomatoes, herbs, salad leaves, cucumbers, aubergines, courgettes, peas and runner beans.


The best low maintenance flowers for rooftops and balconies;

begonias, marigolds, fuchsias, hydrangeas, chrysanthemums,  petunias, clematis plants.

Note on Rooftop Gardens

Roof gardens are a brilliant idea because they look incredible and make use of a space that is otherwise redundant. However before you start with this its important to ask for some structural advice and to know if your roof can take the weight and if you will need permission.

Entertaining in the Garden

Entertaining outside – our guide

Hosting in the Holidays

You have inevitably spent the past few months labouring over your garden and making it look beautiful. As the weather continues to be fine into July, finally it is time to reap the benefits of your hard work.

Summer is the perfect time to host dinners and parties outside with friends and family. Follow these tips to create a warm, inviting and enjoyable space to share with people this summer!

The garden essentials

  1. Clear up; although it’s an obvious step, it can make a huge difference! Simply sweeping away leaves, removing any rubbish and hoeing out a few weeds in the patio can smarten up the whole space. If you have a pressure washer it would be great to use that on a patio area or dirty walls, although a sponge and hose will often do the job. Small things such as washing the dirt and muck off pots with warm soapy water will also help!Trimming the hedges

2. Shape up; trim hedges or any overgrown plants to make them look tame. Be sure to clear any pathways to prevent any unwanted trips or slips!

3. Lawn care; hopefully the effort that you have put into your lawn this year has paid off! In this weather it is necessary to mow the lawn regularly, as often as twice a week. This will keep it in good condition and ready for any spontaneous entertaining! Now is also the perfect chance to add a summer fertiliser feed to your lawn to promote high quality growth.

4. A lick of paint; does your fence, furniture or wooden patio look a little bit worse for wear? A lick of paint or varnish can give it a new lease of life. However it might be time to treat yourself to a new set of garden furniture!


5. Add some colour; if you don’t already have sufficient colour in your garden, why not simply add a few roses. These are always attractive and should last you through the summer! Another instant solution for patios is to fill some nice pots with colourful bedding plants that are in flower at the moment. We have a huge range of these and a variety of colours to choose from in store.  These can also be planted along borders to add colour without pots!

6. Go bold and make a statement; maybe your garden is lacking interest this year. A great way to add another dimension and really make a statement is to add a large or unusual ornament! Alternatively you could plant an interesting plant in a pot as a centrepiece. We would recommend a stunning Japanese maple (acer) that your guests won’t be able to miss!

Creating the perfect space

Everyone wants their garden to be a sanctuary in summer that they, and equally their guests, love to spend time in.

1. Furniture; furniture is of course an essential if you want to host and even spend time in your garden. Pick furniture that suits your garden and has the capacity to seat your usual number. Pair your furniture with an umbrella and create a space that can be used both in the heat of the day and then later on in the evening.

2. Accessorise; it is a much better idea to buy sturdy and long lasting furniture over flouncy and flimsy furniture. However this doesn’t mean that it can’t look great! The addition of cushions and throws can quickly make a simple furniture set look elegant and colourful!

3. Atmosphere is essential; lights in the garden add so much ambience. Invest in some solar lights, these really are an investment as they are completely free to run and there’s no cost of buying batteries! Place these strategically to light areas of interest, maybe beneath your favourite tree and along paths to guide the way!

4. Night scent; are you hoping to spend evenings in your garden? Plant some honeysuckle which is fragrant through the night!

5. Bringing your kitchen outside; another great idea for a BBQ fan is to fun to plant some herbs near the BBQ area. They create a brilliant aroma and they are within reach to try some interesting herb combinations on the BBQ.

6. Make it fun! Read our blog post about our high quality fun lawn games that you can play with guests!