If you’re uncertain about the type of garden that would be right for your situation, then know you’re not alone. There are many different types of gardens and gardening. It’s not just as simple as choosing the tranquil pleasures of a flower garden, or the utility of a vegetable garden – there are many factors to consider. If you live in an apartment or have a small yard, for example, you may prefer to grow your plants in containers to save space and chase the sun!
In this post, I’m going to take a look at some of the most common types of gardens and the pros and cons of each. My hope is that reading this article will make it easier to choose the type of garden that will best suit you.
Start by knowing this, the garden you choose will not depend on one factor alone.
Apartment dwellers will know this all too well. Unless you have a communal garden at your disposal, it’s nearly impossible for you to have a large vegetable garden no matter how much you want one. You may want to consider potted indoor plants or a compact herb garden.
If you travel for work and don’t have someone to help you with your upkeep it may be nearly impossible to have a garden at all. If you work hard with a small amount of time for recreation, caring for more intensive gardens like roses might be too much to handle. Likewise, people will limited mobility might find taking care of a sprawling outdoor garden beyond capabilities. To rule out some of the options, you can ask yourself these five key questions:
- How much space do I have available for gardening?
- How much time do I have to care for my plants?
- How physically capable am I to care for my garden?
- How much money do I have available to start my garden?
- What is the main purpose of my garden?
Once you have asked yourself these questions it makes it easier to choose from the available garden options. It allows you to examine the various types of gardens and rule out the ones that don’t make sense for your situation. Depending on where you live and your lifestyle you may be able to combine different types of gardens, but the caution is to start with something you can manage and doesn’t quickly become unpleasant.
Herb gardening is normally a pleasant experience because it’s quite easy. If you’re looking for a very simple type of gardening that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance, herb gardening is probably an excellent choice. It’s so easy because most herbs are very hardy, and they don’t require a lot of ongoing maintenance. The other thing about some herbs is that they require less light, so are easier to grow indoors and in confined spaces.
If you choose mainly perennial herbs, you will have herbs that come back year after year with very little additional work. As long as you keep them watered and weeded, they should keep growing relatively well without a lot of labour-intensive maintenance.
Herbs are also a great way to share your love of gardening with kids for the same reason. Herb gardens are great for busy people who want to cultivate a green thumb but lack the time to care for picky plants.
• Doesn’t require a lot of time.
• Relatively simple to do.
• Doesn’t require a lot of physical exertion.
• Plants are generally hardy and easy to care for.
• Can be a bit boring for people who like a challenge.
• Might not be good for people who prefer more complex forms of gardening.
Vegetable gardening requires a lot more work than herb gardening. In fact, vegetable gardening can be one of the most time-consuming types of gardening. Many vegetables require regular watering, pest control and fertilising at and may require a lot of different types of maintenance throughout the growing season.
You may have to pinch suckers, prune growth, or even manually fertilize flowers with a paintbrush! Some vegetables are hardier and less picky than others. You can find some types of vegetables that don’t require a lot of work at all.
So you can still find vegetable gardening fun and relaxing as a hobby if you’re careful to choose varieties that don’t require constant attention. Some people like me enjoy vegetable gardening because they love the satisfaction of knowing where their food comes from and being able to harvest food that ends up on their plates. While I started my garden with herbs, as I had more space it quickly grew to tomatoes and then bulkier vegetables like zucchini and broccoli.
I can say first hand that it’s really rewarding to grow the food you eventually eat, especially if you can share some of it with others. While I find organic growing difficult in pots, I know some people may really like organic vegetable gardening, because they like knowing that the food they’re growing is safer for their family than store-bought produce.
If you take on a particularly big gardening project, it can be back-breaking work, so it’s important to be sure you can physically handle this type of work. It may not be very good for people who aren’t in good physical condition, or people who don’t have much time to care for their plants.
• Satisfying, because you grow your own food.
• Peace of mind knowing where your food is coming from.
• Challenging for people who really enjoy that.
• Plants are attractive as well as useful.
• Might be too difficult for people who aren’t in good physical condition.
• Can require a lot of special care for the best results.
• Generally quite time-consuming.
Growing flowers is a relatively simple task, especially if you choose hardy varieties. It can be as easy as tossing some wildflower seeds out, or it can be as complex as carefully planning the location of every single plant, every colour, and the relative height of each plant. It can be both physically and mentally stimulating to plan out and design each garden bed and cultivate it to perfection.
Flower gardening is good for people who are looking to add something aesthetically pleasing to their yards. It’s especially nice if you want to add some beauty and style to their yard and enjoy the classic look of a flower garden.
Flower gardening might not be right for those who enjoy a more modern look. Some think flower gardens look a bit old-fashioned, and just don’t like them,.. and they also may not be great for environments that are arider and lack regular rainfall.
Allergies are also a consideration. If you have hay fever or allergies, you may need to avoid flower gardening altogether. Flowers carry a lot of pollen, and people who have allergies might find it a bit difficult to care for their plants if their allergies are acting up. Some forms of flower gardening can be very difficult.
Rose gardening might be a bit too complex for many people because roses can be rather finicky. Some types of flowers are especially particular and can be quite challenging to grow.
• Great for providing aesthetics to a yard.
• Very flexible, allowing for easier or harder gardening.
• Less responsibility than growing food plants.
• Some varieties of flowers are very finicky and hard to grow.
• Might not be good for people who prefer a more modern look.
Container gardening is a very flexible, very adaptable form of gardening. It can easily be adapted to almost anyone’s style of gardening. You can grow very hardy herbs, delicious vegetables, or finicky flowers.
You can have your container garden indoors or outdoors. You can make it as easy or as hard as you wish. And you can even choose how much time it takes to maintain it! Container gardening is also really good for elderly people, handicapped people, and children.
Since the containers can be placed on surfaces of almost any height, it’s great for people who have trouble bending or stooping to care for plants in a traditional garden, or for those who are confined to a wheelchair.
It’s also very good for children and gardeners who are just starting out, because you can plant very small areas, and it won’t require a lot of maintenance. Containers also save space. If you have a very small yard or live in an apartment with no yard space at all, you can use containers to grow plants on your patio or porch.
You can grow almost anything in containers. Dwarf fruit trees, vegetables, herbs, and flowers can all be grown in containers, so it’s wonderful for growing almost anything you would normally grow in a traditional method.
It’s good for most people, but it might not be suitable for people who have very large families with a lot of mouths to feed. The start-up cost of buying containers and soil can be prohibitive for some, but you can make containers out of many different things if necessary.
• Doesn’t require a lot of time.
• Relatively simple to do.
• Doesn’t typically require a lot of physical exertion.
• Extremely flexible.
• Can be done even by people in apartments.
• Great for elderly and disabled.
• Can be expensive to buy the containers and soil to start.
• Not as good for people with large families to feed.
Raised Bed Gardening
Raised bed gardening is the method of growing plants in beds that are raised up off the ground. Typically, large rectangular boxes are fashioned out of large lumber, such as 4x4s. The boxes usually don’t have bottoms, so plant roots can grow down into the underlying soil.
Raised bed gardening is great for people who have little space because plants are compacted into a much smaller area than they would be in a traditional garden. In traditional gardens, the path between rows takes up about as much space as the rows of plants! But raised bed gardening can help change that.
Even if you do have a lot of space, you might prefer growing in raised beds so you can grow more in the same amount of space. Raised beds can often double or triple the amount of produce harvested from an area of land!
Flowers aren’t generally grown in raised beds because they don’t look very natural. Herbs and vegetables are more commonly grown in raised beds. Raised bed growing was created not only to save space and produce more from the same space but also to help people who have very poor soil.
If you live in an area with very bad soil, you can simply buy a very high-quality potting mix and place that in your raised beds, and you instantly have much better soil than you did before! It also has the added benefit of reducing weeds, making for less work overall.
• Great for people with poor soil.
• Boosts production from the same amount of space.
• Can make certain plants easier to grow than normal.
• Can still be challenging for people who aren’t physically capable.
• A bit expensive to set up at the beginning.
By now you should already have a good idea of what type of gardening you think might be right for you. You have probably eliminated some possibilities, and you may have seen a couple of clear winners emerge.
If you’re still not settled on a particular type of gardening, you might start with one of the more simple forms of gardening like herb gardening or container gardening. This will be an easy way for you to tell whether or not you even enjoy gardening, whether you’re physically and mentally able to handle it, and how much time you have to devote to it.
By starting out small, you’ll have time to adjust to everything, and you’ll be able to decide just how much more you think you’re willing and able to handle.