Apartment Garden Blues (Blog): The Downsides to Container Gardens

Balcony Garden CatLast week I discussed 5 reasons why I love container gardens, so today I’m discussing the downsides. No garden is perfect, and just like everything in life, there are pros and cons, ups and downs, and give and take. Here are 4 reasons why apartment container gardens aren’t the best. (I could only come up with 4 disadvantages, so it seems that the pros outweigh the cons!)

3. Container gardens mean no landscaping. You look at beautiful landscapes with koi ponds, manicured English gardens or backyards with outdoor kitchens, and you realize that you can never have that. You have just a few square feet of space to grow what you want, and you will not be able to landscape with your space. This might actually be a benefit for you if you don’t want to take the time, money and effort that comes with landscaping. There are always public gardens you can enjoy, as well.

2. Container gardens need a little more maintenance. While small container gardens are easier to maintain because of their small size, each container plant will need some more time with its gardener. Containers need to be watered more often because it has just a little bit of potting soil, which will lose water more quickly when it’s hot and dry out, and the plant will drink up all the water quicker than plants directly in the ground. Many apartment-dwellers with container gardens also do not have a hose hookup, which means that watering container plants generally means filling up old milk jugs or big watering cans indoors and bringing them out to water the plants. This can be time-consuming, but each gardener needs to decide how much time he or she wants to spend in the garden, and then change the container garden accordingly to fit their lives’ schedules.

1. Apartment container gardens are just too small! We can’t grow all the amazing plants we see. Think of all those interesting heirloom tomato varieties, different types of fruit trees and every type of orchid there is on the planet. While it’s true that gardeners in the cold north can’t grow tropical plants and gardeners in the arid desert can’t grow many plants, apartment- and condo-dwellers can’t just grow any old plant. Want an oak tree? Nope. Not going to happen. Want to enter a giant pumpkin at the county fair this year? HA! Never. The only way around this is to get to know someone with a yard who will let you use it, or to get a plot of land in a community garden.

Still, container gardens are awesome, and if you live in an apartment or just don’t want a lot of responsibility, container gardens are perfect for you. You can keep beautiful plants without the commitment of caring for (and paying for) a large yard filled with plants.



Alexandra is a professional writer from Southern California who grows vegetables, herbs, lots of aloe vera and one giant Boston fern in her balcony garden. She also grows dracaena, pothos and English ivy indoors. She loves traveling and birdwatching in addition to gardening.

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