When warm weather approaches and all manner of plants begin arriving at local nurseries and garden centers, the time is ripe for planting a new small garden or renewing an old one. Gardening is a popular pastime – for some it is a hobby, and for others it is a livelihood.

Unfortunately, many people do not have enough space for real large scale gardening. That doesn’t mean you can’t garden – really, a small garden can be more fun than a large one, because the amount of labour needed scales up with size. It simply means you have to plan accordingly. Some plants need a large garden to be practical, but there are may others that work very well when space is in short supply.

Unless you want your yard to start looking a little wild, avoid plants that grow quickly or spread over large areas. Invasive bamboo, for example, can take over a garden in a very short time. Other plants, like Philodendrons, are poisonous, so take care if your garden is apt to have animals or small children running through it.

It can be challenging to garden in a small space. Instead of cramming too much into a limited area, try to plan your garden with just one or two spots on which to focus. A fountain or a small pond serves quite well for this. Your pond doesn’t have to be large at all in order to house a few koi – even the smallest pond is far larger than most aquariums.

Many people garden for practical reasons rather than aesthetic ones. It’s the same reason that people hunt or fish – in some indefinable yet very clear way, dinner always tastes better when you grow it yourself. You might not think an abstract idea like self-satisfaction could have a taste, but it does.

With that in mind, a small garden usually doesn’t have enough space to provide staple crops like lettuce or grain. Some gardeners prefer to grow things that are most useful in smaller quantities. Tomatoes are a constant favorite – they’re fairly easy to grow and don’t take up a lot of room. Cucumbers, on the other hand, grow into a huge, sprawling bush.

Spices and herbs are another option for the small garden. Plant a few specimens of each of your favorite pepper varieties and you’ll have fresh ingredients for salsas and marinades growing close at hand. If you’ve never tasted the difference between a salad-in-a-bag and one made completely out of fresh, homegrown produce, then you’re missing out.

Many herbs are perfect for gardens with limited room. The plants themselves are small, but their flavours are powerful. You might be surprised by the amount of basil, mint or chives that can be grown in a plot as small as one or two square meters.