Big Ideas for Small Space Gardens

Last fall, I knew just how I wanted to brighten and heighten the shadows of a mountain laurel. Biding my time, I found the perfect subdued container at a winter sale, and in spring, landed a sparkler sedge Carex phyllocephala ‘Sparkler’.
Sparkler sedge in container Central Texas Gardener
I’d planned to fill this spot with Salvia coccineas in May, but alas, soggy soil and being doggoned pooped ended that vision, at least this round. Native Salvia roemeriana, hummingbird-love Dicliptera suberecta and striking red billbergia are on their own for now.

For lightweight filler in the bottom of the container, I hit the dollar store and stuffed 1/3 or so with plastic kiddie toys. Plastic nursery pots are a super idea, but in a clean-up mission, I’d recycled/donated them. Viewers also suggested water or soda bottles. In larger containers, one cat mom recycles plastic litter containers, upside down.
plastic toys to fill garden container Central Texas Gardener
Native Salvia coccinea peps up part shade where hummingbirds, butterflies and bees quickly find them. Morning sun is great, but do avoid direct-hit afternoon sun. Usually, they drop dead at the first frost but can generously re-seed.
Red Salvia coccinea Central Texas Gardener
Pollinators will find them just as quickly if you can only plant in containers.
galvanized stock tank planter Salvia coccinea Central Texas Gardener
These days, you’ve got lots of options for color and size. Find out more as Daphne’s Plant of the Week.
white Salvia coccinea Central Texas Gardener
Questions about fungal disease are still #1. So, what’s going on with Craig Burnett’s chinkapin oak?
brown leaves chinkapin oak Central Texas Gardener
It’s possible, Daphne tells us, that there was a fungal infection of some sort earlier in the year (during all our rain and cool weather). As leaves develop, tissue surrounding the infection sites starts to die and turn brown. It’s also possible that the damage comes from herbicides or too much fertilizer. Find out more.

So many people are moving into “close encounters” neighborhoods, where a mere strip separates homes. Many of us simply have small yards to start with. This week, Laurin Lindsey and Shawn Schlachter of Ravenscourt Landscaping & Design in Houston, put their gorgeous stamp on stamp-sized properties.
Tom Spencer, Laurin Lindsey and Shawn Schlacter Central Texas Gardener
A complete landscape and design team, including licensed irrigation, they combine sensitivity to clients’ needs, homegrown food, and artful structures and lighting. We illustrate their amazing before and after pictures in Tom’s interview, but here’s an “after” I love. For privacy against a new McMansion next door, this arbor blocks the view, but lets in light. Laurin often includes planters for food: here, right near the kitchen door.
arbor to screen big house next door Ravenscourt Landscape and Design Central Texas Gardener
One technique they use for privacy, to hide utilities, or just to power up blank walls is Shawn’s custom made lattices backed with acrylic mirrors.
Courtyard design Ravenscourt Landscaping Central Texas Gardener
trellis backed with acrylic mirror garden courtyard Central Texas Gardener
They reduce a lot of lawn in their designs. Here’s one design where they activated dimension with tiers of dimension that brings the family back outside, day and night.
reduced lawn three tier small garden Ravenscourt Landscape Central Texas Gardener
Check out their blog for their makeover stories and philosophies and of course, Ravenscourt’s very personable design site to help you if you’ve decided you need some help!

John Dromgoole clevers things up on porches, patios, and balconies. One is the Incredible Porch Hangar/Tree that lets you layer pots in cute angles. Anchor its chain on your porch or patio for instant space-saving vertical dimension.
Incredible hanging containers John Dromgoole Central Texas Gardener
The Incredible Plant Stand is really that. Starting with a large pot on the bottom, add on smaller pots to grow a lot in limited quarters.
Incredible Plant Stand for porches and patios Central  Texas Gardener
Another trick I’ve often used is an inexpensive pot clip, like this.
pot clip hang on wall Central Texas Gardener
On tour, Delta Dawn Gardens designer Leah Churner includes pot clips in her vertical designs, even on her own apartment balcony.
pot clip balcony gold painted terra cotta pot Central Texas Gardener
A designer who goes for beauty with native plants and organic, drought-tough techniques, she adapts her creative flair in tiny spaces.
Leah Churner garden designer Austin Central Texas Gardener
At home in a two-story apartment overlooking Zilker Park and downtown Austin, Leah’s window wall meant intimate connectivity between indoor and outdoor rooms.
balcony design Leah Churner Central Texas Gardener
balcony design Leah Churner Central Gardener
Outdoor rugs quickly warm up and personalize footing that you can’t paint in a rental.
outdoor rugs balcony garden Central Texas Gardener
Vertical techniques are key in space-challenged spots. On her shady balcony, star jasmine is an easy-control evergreen vine. Leah jazzed up inexpensive terra cotta pots with a can of gold spray paint. I’m so doing this!
gold painted terra cotta pots trellis balcony Central Texas Gardener
This mirrored gold sunburst pulls it all together. Contemporary macramé saves the day, where the beads on this one match some of her interior colors.
Balcony garden art with gold Central Texas Gardener
Inexpensive mirrors—even thrift story finds—enliven and enlarge, and never need water!
mirrors and containers balcony garden design austin Central Texas Gardener
As in garden beds, often she works in groups of three for uncluttered, visual promotion.
containers corner outside door ll web
Leah’s fortunate that her apartment has two floors. Downstairs on rock-solid ground that supports the weight, galvanized stock tank planters permit larger plants,like bamboo muhly, and require less watering. Trellises, mirrors, and stacked plants disguise the fence and give her more options, always good for a plant-crazed person!
apartment garden design stock tank Central Texas Gardener
She uses extra containers, stones or bricks to elevate attention (and allow drainage), here for an edible chile pequin.
chile pequin raised pot stand Central Texas Gardener
To cover cold-tender plants in winter, like pot-bound chile pequin, later she filled these cinder blocks with sand to firm up PVC hoops to support warming row cover.
PVC cinder block hoop house balcony cold protection plants Central Texas Gardener
Stop by Drinks Lounge (Arlo’s cooks up delicious vegan noms) and check out her galvanized stock tanks that do what you can: anchor a patio.
galvanized stock tank planters Drinks lounge Central Texas Gardener
And at The Brixton downtown, big-time trellises shade and dramatize with Alamo vine underplanted with vibrant bougainvillea, grasses, and pollinator perennials.
Alamo vine bougainvillea downtown garden trellis Central Texas Gardener
So much more, so watch right now!

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week when we look at the good, bad, and the ugly ways to use hardscape. Linda