If you've been reluctant to transform your outdoor area because you're renting, it may be time to revisit the idea. You can only gain from having a greener space that brings you joy, and fine-tuning your horticultural knowledge will benefit any property of your own. Don't think of the endeavor as a waste of resources.
Whether you'll be around for one year or ten, gardening will make you feel right at home. With some forethought, you won't even have to leave much behind. Just ensure you're not at odds with your lease agreement or the city's landscaping laws.
Most owners welcome more green around the yard, but before you make any significant changes on a rental, ask your landlord if it's a-okay. An enthusiastic, house-proud tenant is any owner's dream—and who wouldn't want to increase the curb appeal of their home for free?—but you'll need to reassure them that you won't leave the place looking worse off than you started with wonky lighting and weeds aplenty, for example.
Ask permission before cutting down or planting trees in the ground or attempting structural adjustments.
It doesn't matter whether you're making short-term or long-term changes, consider your budget and how you could best achieve a desired look. Your landlord may offer to assist you with the expenses for permanent fixtures. Picking a theme such as a Japanese zen garden is a good idea, and having similar textures and shapes indoors and outdoors can lend your living space a certain harmony.
Colors can define areas and create flow, so select a palette with care. The pots you choose add character, too—try and stick to one kind for consistency, and let the variety come from the greenery.
If you're going the flower bed and raised bed route, pick seedlings that will mature while you're occupying the premises. Opt for annuals like nasturtium, dahlias, and sunflowers with gorgeous mood-brightening colors. You can also grow easy veggies like spinach and tomatoes.
When planting in the ground or in beds, choose plant types that are easy to propagate so you can take cuttings with you when you leave without affecting the lush scene. Think of it as a parting gift to the owner, the next tenant, and the earth.
You can transform a small terrace or courtyard with pots. Landlords generally don't have a right to temporary upgrades such as potted plants, so you can move these from place to place without issue. Container gardening is aesthetically exciting because you can mix it up with different sizes and heights for visual interest. Go for shrubs, bulbs, and prickly succulents with broad faces next to a separate container of feathery beauties.
If your landlord isn't keen on you planting trees in the ground, you can plant small fruit trees like olives and apples, or non-fruiting options like Himalayan birch, in containers and repot them when necessary. Herbs like cilantro, rocket, and mint grow fast and under control in pots, and perennial edibles like strawberries and blueberry bushes are tasty, vibrant additions.
To make a green space homier, you'll want to add comfortable furniture you and a couple of buddies can settle into. Ready-made outdoor furniture tends to be light and weather-proof with cozy cushions, but if you don't want to spend too much, you can find smaller, collapsible pieces.
If you're a DIYer, you may enjoy making your own dining table, chairs, and freestanding or fitted bench from timber.
Before you can put raised beds or containers down, you need to figure out the floor situation. You can buy interlocking deck tiles or artificial grass. These are easy to assemble, lay on your floor surface, and take apart when it's time to go without damaging the property. You can repair an imperfect lawn or install pathways with low-cost concrete paving stones or wooden sleepers.
Use different materials, such as gravel or smashed flagstones, to form nooks and add variety.
LED fairy lights bring that instant wow factor and sense of whimsy. You can use sustainable solar-powered lights to brighten up dark corners or illuminate a path—inexpensive portable lanterns lend structure to walkways. Chic rechargeable cordless lamps are also great for placing on dinner tables.
Keep a list of your suppliers and costs in case your landlord wants to replicate the atmosphere or pay you for leaving the garden as is when you move on.
Put in a trickling fountain, a water bowl, and a bird feeder, and your garden will come alive with chirps. A potted pond is also a worthy wildlife-friendly project for a roof terrace or small rental garden. All you'll need is a container, pond liner, rainwater, at least three floating pond plants, and rocks for visiting creatures.
Your existing garden walls may need a lick of paint for quick sprucing, or you can stain fences and tiles. Use potted Christmas trees or other plants such as ferns and bamboo as screens for unsightly trash cans, or cover eyesores with aluminum, recycled plastic, or wooden trellises.
Trellises break up the monotony of walls, and when climbers creep along them, the whole scene becomes magical. These screens also enhance privacy.
Recycled plastic rugs, quirky ladders for small pot styling, mirrors that act as screens while creating the illusion of more space and light, and fire pits—these are just some of the extras that can infuse your rental garden with warmth. Charming fire pits ensure your green space gets used throughout the year. You can buy an Indian fire bowl or use a repurposed cast iron bbq.