Small Garden Design Tips

Creating and enjoying a garden even in the smallest of spaces

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Vegetable Small Garden Design – The Heirloom Tomatoes


Vegetable Garden Design - Black Krim Heirloom Tomato

Black Krim Tomato

At my local university Ag Field day recently, I looked to purchase a local breed of tomato seedling for my vegetable garden design.  Unfortunately, the variety I wanted was already sold out by the time I arrived.   One of the vegetable specialists convinced me into purchasing a Black Krim seedling.

I didn’t notice, until after I purchased the seedling, that the Black Krim is an heirloom variety.  Not knowing much about heirloom tomatoes, I decided to do some research.  Here’s what I found out…

My first question…what is an heirloom tomato?  Heirloom varieties are defined as being open-pollinated cultivars.  The draw to heirloom varieties is that they have lots of flavor, look beautiful, and are easy to grow.  Heirloom seeds have been passed down through several generations.  Heirloom varieties are genetically unique, and have evolved resistance to pests and disease, while adapting to specific growing conditions and climates.  They come in a wide variety of colors, shapes, flavors, and sizes.

Heirloom tomatoes can be described in different ways –

Commercial heirlooms – open-pollinated varieties introduced before 1940 or are more than 50 years old

Family heirlooms- varieties whose seeds have been saved and passed down from generation to generation

Mystery heirlooms – these arise accidently from natural cross-pollination or mutation

Heirloom tomatoes are not commercially available.  They are not shippable over long distances, do not ripen perfectly and do not have a uniform shape.  These imperfections are what make them appealing to gardeners.

What is open-pollination?  This is when a cultivar or plant can be grown from seeds and will come back “true to type”, meaning the next generation comes back looking identical to its parent.

How do heirlooms compare to F-1 hybrid breeds of tomatoes?  These are the ones we consider “supermarket tomatoes”.  Seeds collected from F-1 hybrid tomatoes typically don’t germinate when planed the next season and may be sterile.  If they do sprout, they will not have the same characteristics as their parents.

The attractiveness of hybrids for commercial growers is their ability to produce more transportable fruit, with minimal spoilage.  They also have a more consistent color and shelf appeal.  While hybrids have outstanding characteristics, the ability to reproduce is not one of them.

There are many varieties of heirloom tomatoes.  Here are some popular varieties:

Vegetable Garden Design - Big Rainbow Heirloom Tomato


Big Rainbow – large yellow tomatoes with red swirls and mild, sweet flavor



Vegetable Garden Design - Black Krim Heirloom Tomato


Black Krim – dark red to brown, can be grown in containers with rich flavor and considered to hail from the Isle of Krim on the Black Sea



Vegetable Garden Design - Brandywine Heirloom Tomato


Brandywine – one of the most popular heirlooms with large pink fruit and a slightly tart taste



Vegetable Garden Design - Green Zebra Heirloom Tomato



Green Zebra – light-green stripes against an amber background, with a tarter flavor


Vegetable Garden Design - Cherokee Purple Heirloom Tomato



Cherokee Purple – deep, dusky pink purple, beefsteak in style with a dense, juicy texture

Spring Small Garden Design

Posted by admin on Mar 14, 2011 under flower garden design, small garden design

“>Spring is officially less than a week away!  A recent trip to the Philadelphia Show, the crocus blooming in my front small garden design and the hyacinth that are quickly sprouting, have me actively thinking about the rest of my small gardens.  I am beginning to plan what to plant this year.

Small garden design - hyacinth rock garden

Small Garden Design containing hyacinth and daffodils

I have already planted some lettuce, micro greens, and arugula.
Lettuce likes cooler weather, so you can put in the seeds now and you will have
lettuce before you know it!

Have you started thinking about what you’ll be planting this season?
I am always looking for new ideas, so share some of yours by commenting.






Small Garden Design for Attracting Butterflies

Posted by admin on Jan 21, 2011 under container gardening, flower garden design, small garden design

Butterflies are beautiful.  When creating your small garden design, it is flowers that will attract butterflies.

Butterflies are insects.  Insects are cold blooded and rely on the environment for heat.  The best place to find butterflies are basking in the sun to warm up.  The dark spots on butterfly wings help them absorb the heat from the sun to keep them warm.  Sunny areas will bring the butterflies out, while shady areas provide a place for them to hide in cloudy weather.

The type of butterflies attracted to a garden depends on your location and the nectar or sweet liquid found in flowers, that your garden provides.

The best way to decide on what plants to include in your small garden design to attract butterflies is to first research the types of butterflies that are native to your area.  Then find out what flowers and plants they like to feed on and lay their eggs on, since these will be native to your growing area, they will be easy to grow and maintain.

Butterflies are attracted to flowers.  Planting flowers in varying tall and short heights is not only aesthetically pleasing to your eye, but will attract different butterfly types.  When planning your flower garden design, keep shorter flowering plants to the front of the beds, borders, and walkways.  Examples of some short height plants that attract butterflies include impatiens, lavender, and verbena.  Taller flowers such as cosmos and sunflowers should be kept toward the back of your flower garden design.  Medium height flowers such as zinnia, coreopsis, coneflowers, and black-eyed-susans are also great for attracting butterflies to  your small garden.

Regardless of where you live, there are a few basic elements that any butterfly attracting small garden design should have.

  1. A sunny location. Being cold blooded, butterflies need the sun to help them stay warm for flight and feeding.
  2. Nectar producing plants. Butterflies are attracted to flowers in purple, red, yellow, orange, and pick with flat-topped or clustered flowers and short flower tubes.  A small garden design that contains flowers that bloom from spring through the summer into autumn will provide a continual food source.
  3. Planting flowers in groupings. Butterflies are attracted to nectar plants in clusters.  This is because they are near-sighted.  It is easier for them to see splotches of color than to see one bloom here or there.  Even when designing a small container garden design, grouping of three or more nectar plants in a pot will help attract butterflies.
  4. Avoid pesticides. Butterflies are sensitive to pesticides.  You don’t want to kill off butterflies, caterpillars, or their eggs by using pesticides.

An added benefit to attracting butterflies to your flower garden design that attracts butterflies…it will also attract hummingbirds.

Adding Vines to a Small Garden Design

Posted by admin on Jan 5, 2011 under small garden design

Looking for a new way to decorate your small garden design, a great way is with vines.  Besides looking good,  vines are low maintenance.  Do you have a wall or fence or place for a trellis?  Try growing a vine for a quick and aesthetically pleasing solution. There are many types of vines for different situations, whether you are trying to grow one up the side of a house, along the ground, up a tree or a trellis.

Many different vines are available. There are ground vines that grow fast, strong and inch their way along the ground. They are very easy to direct, so they can make a nice border around your garden, or just weave in and out of the plants.  Use these as a hardy ground cover if you just want some green on your dirt or mulch.  A nice alternative to grass, you can find a varieties that are resistant to being stepped on and are a leafy, nice alternative to grass.   Even if you have kids and a dog, it should have no problems staying alive.

Another type of vine that is available is a “twining” vine. This refers to their method of climbing. Twining vines require a lattice or equally porous surface to climb up, since they are not sticky at all. They just climb by sending out small tendrils to loop around whatever is nearby.  This type of vine is good for climbing up trees, or any type of mesh.  Usually you have to guide them a lot more during their early stages, and after that they will go wherever  you want them to.

Vines not only look good on the ground or on lattices, you can blend them in to the very architecture of your house.  This is usually achieved through the use of vines with small tendrils that have adhesive tips.  They extend from the vine and attach themselves to almost any surface.  If your garden is adjacent to your house and you want something to camouflage the big unsightly wall, it’s a great idea to start out a few vines near the base. If you have a vine like the Virginia Creeper growing, then your entire wall will be covered in a matter of months.  But be careful to don’t let the vines to get out of control, if  you don’t want watch closely, the vines will take over your entire house.

A popular vine is that you would probably recognize is Ivy.  You see it around a lot, generally because it is so adaptable. Ivy can fit the bill for ground,  twining, and sticky pad varieties of vines.  Ivy makes a great ground cover, and will grow up about any surface you put it on.  Although it grows quick and strong, I wouldn’t suggest growing it up on your house.  This is because over time, ivy has been shown to deteriorate buildings which have had ivy for many years.

Growing vines should be easy.  Flowering, annual, or perennial, you can find a many types of vines for your small garden design.  No matter what you want to do with a vine, whether growing on the ground or twining up a trellis, you should have no problem getting it to grow.  You should always do your research beforehand and find out about any negative qualities the vine has (such as its ability to destroy buildings, in Ivy’s case.)

Thinking Small Garden Design as the Winter Snows Fall…

Posted by admin on Dec 26, 2010 under small garden design


It’s the day after Christmas and all through the house, the poinsettias and Christmas cactus bloom with delight.The snow falls outside with feet predicted by morn and thoughts of spring small garden design themes dance in the mind.

Did you plant your spring bulbs before the first snow?I bought bulbs with all good intention, but where did time go?As my bulbs winter in my garage, I continue to wonder, will I have time to plant before the first thaw?

While enjoying the first east coast snow storm of the season, the holly berries and dry grass adding beauty to the white snow drifts without reason.I’m dreaming and planning my 2011 small garden design.  What new plants will be available to plant and arrange?  As winter is upon as and we dream of spring, wishing you and yours all the best the New Year has to bring!

Container Gardening – The Perfect Solution for Small Garden Design

Posted by admin on Nov 3, 2010 under container gardening, small garden design

If you think you don’t have room for a garden, think again!  One of the most popular and best ways to have create a small garden design despite space limitations is container gardening.  No matter how restrictive your gardening area, you can always find room for a few containers.
railing planter for small garden design
There are an endless variety of containers that you can use for container gardening.  Do you have a deck with railing?  Try railing planters for planting flowers or herbs.

Create an interesting container garden arrangement using a number of small containers.  Conserve on space by displaying your containers using a wooden step ladder.  You can paint the ladder or leave as is and arrange your small garden design on the ladder rungs.

Depending on the amount of space you have, try finding an older style ladder with rungs on either side.  You can create shelves by placing a board across a set of rungs and screwing the board in place, then arrange containers on the shelves.

What about hanging planters?  Hanging planters is a great way to display colorful flower displays in a limited space.  Have some wall space you can use?  There are a variety of wall planter options to choose from for displaying your containers.

Depending on your space, container gardening is also a great way to recycle home items.  Let you imaginations go – old buckets, tea kettles, ice buckets, chipped glassware bowls, wagons or wheelbarrows, old shoes or boots.  As long as the item is weather resistant, it has potential for use in a container garden.

Be sure when choosing plants for your containers or containers for your plants, that you make sure you consider the amount of root space each plant will need.  Pots will constrict the size of the plant, so make sure you choose your pots accordingly.

There is no limit to the plants you can put in containers.  User trellises for climbing plants, plant containers with flowers, roses, herbs, and vegetables.  Combine different plant types for an interesting look.  Space is no longer an excuse to hold you back from the garden you’ve always wanted.

Herb Garden Design Video

Posted by admin on Oct 7, 2010 under herb garden design host Jason Hill shows how to grow a culinary herb garden. With these tips, home cooks can learn about herb gardening and what to plant in their herb gardens. Among Hill’s favorite herbs for a kitchen herb garden design are oregano, basil, thyme, mint, tarragon, cilantro and chives.

Learn how to preserve your herbs by drying them.

To see more cooking videos, visit

Duration : 0:1:44

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How To Start A Vegetable Garden Design

Posted by admin on Oct 7, 2010 under vegetable garden design – How to get started with your own vegetable garden design.

Duration : 0:2:12

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Reducing Lawns With Small Garden Design

Posted by admin on Oct 7, 2010 under small garden design

Looking for a way to do less mowing this year? Here’s our gardening expert P. Allen Smith with a popular trend among small gardeners.

Duration : 0:1:49

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Plant Bulbs in Autumn for a Spring Small Garden Design

Posted by admin on Oct 7, 2010 under flower garden design, small garden design

Now that autumn has officially arrived, as we think about readying our gardens for winter, we also need to give thought to our early spring small garden design.  It is time to plant early blooming spring flower bulbs such as crocus, tulips, hyacinth, jonquil, daffodil, and iris.

Planting bulbs in groups or clumps provides a natural looking effect.  You can achieve this natural effect by digging a large hole and placing several bulbs in the hole.  Try mixing multiple bulb types.  You can plant larger bulbs at the bottom of the hole, add a layer of dirt then plant the smaller bulbs.

Another method for creating a natural looking small garden design with bulbs is to take a handful of bulbs, toss them in the air and plant them where they land.  Rule of thumb for bulb planting depth…plant bulbs about three times deeper than the size of the bulb.

Planting bulbs in the early fall gives them time for root development.  The bulbs will develop over the winter and start sprouting in early spring.  Make sure you pick fresh, firm bulbs for healthy spring blooms.  When planting, remember to plant with the roots down and the nose of bulb up.

Now, with the autumn leaves turning and beginning to fall from the trees, it is the perfect time to start planting bulbs for an early blooming small garden design.