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banish the balcony blues big plans for small gardens by Sarah Goldstein | 1 2 3 4 5 6
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where to put your garden
You might be lucky enough to have a backyard just waiting to be tidied up, or you might not. No matter how much space you have, a little bit of exterior decorating can give your place a big lift. Here are a few ideas on carving out some gardening space for yourself…

If you've got a backyard, you have lots of space to try different ideas. Lucky you! There are also plenty of sources of ideas: in books, magazines and gardening web sites, a big backyard is considered the norm. The challenge is to work your ideas in with what's already there -- the trees, shrubs, lawn, paving or whatever else in your yard that your landlord might not want removed. While these might be pretty uninspiring, established plants make a garden look much more 'finished', so incorporating them into your plans will make for a better garden. And don't forget that a forlorn-looking plant will often turn into something more impressive with a little bit of TLC. Water it, fertilise it, weed around it, and treat it if it has bugs or fungus; then see what happens.

The other thing to remember when you have a big yard is to break your gardening down into steps that you can manage. Don't try to do a whole makeover in a weekend; pick one project at a time instead. Work on the flowerbeds out the front for a bit, then put a herb garden by the kitchen, then add a tyre swing to the tree out the back. Just give yourself time!

And a tip if you plan to take your hard work with you when you move: keep your plants in pots. Potted plants work surprisingly well sitting in garden beds or on the edge of paving or lawns, and they're easy to pack up when the time comes.

If you have a courtyard or just a tiny backyard, your possibilities are a lot more limited. The 'small space' ideas that you see in books and magazines are often highly coordinated and expensive; they just don't translate well to low-budget DIY. Almost any garden style can be adapted to a small space though -- you just need to be creative.

If you want a lush garden but have two tiny garden beds amongst pavers, add dozens of potted plants to fill in the gaps. Also, don't forget about the trimmings -- extra touches like garden furniture, wind chimes, small water features, rocks and ornaments. A wind chime, a water feature and a comfy chair are the difference between a few ho-hum plants and a quiet meditation space. And you can't have outdoor dining without a table and chairs!

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