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From the team at Gardeners' World Magazine
Pink and purple petunias in a window box, beside sunflowers

Gardening in a rented garden

Published: Tuesday, 7 January, 2020 at 1:46 pm

In rented accommodation? Green up the garden with the help of our practical tips.

With a few tips and tricks, rented gardens can be full of colour and plants you can take with you should you move.


You don't need to spend a lot of money, either. A good seed mix for sun or shade, depending on the aspect of your garden, can go a long way and many mixes consist of annuals that will flower the same year – perfect for quick colour.

Trees, shrubs and perennials will cost you a bit more, but will provide more permanent colour and structure. Consider growing them in pots and containers so you can take them with you if you move.

Before making any drastic changes, it's a good idea to consult your landlord and your contract on how tidy you need to keep the garden and what changes you can make.

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Green up your rented garden by following our tips, below.

Window boxes

Make the most of any windowsills you have with a good selection of window boxes, giving you a pleasant sight when looking out the window or arriving home. They can be filled cheaply with a selection of colourful bedding plants like coreopsis, zinnias and lobelia.

Terracotta window box with orange gazania and silver cineraria


Bulbs, like these tulips, can be bought cheaply online or at garden centres and nurseries. They're quick and easy to plant, which you can do in any beds you have or in pots and containers. To achieve a succession of colour, try layering bulbs in containers – as one type of bulb finishes flowering, another will just be beginning.

Orange tulips


By growing your own herbs you can enjoy fresh pickings for a fraction of the price. Some are easier than others, so try vigorous, easy-to-grow herbs like chives and mint if you're not especially green-fingered. Remember, Mediterranean herbs like rosemary, thyme, fennel and summer savoury do need as much sun as possible to get the best from them.

Three types of mint growing in an oblong container

Annual seed mixes

Seed mixes of annual plants are one of cheapest and quickest ways to fill bare beds and borders with temporary colour. Make sure you start with a seed mix suited to your conditions, and follow our advice on preparing and sowing hardy annuals. Don't forget annual climbers, too, or fast-growing perennials like Verbena bonariensis, penstemons and Erysimum 'Bowles's Mauve'.

Bright orange calendulas

Raised beds

If you're after something more substantial than a few containers, raised beds are a good option for growing veg and flowers. You can construct them from a variety of materials like scaffold boards or breeze blocks. You can also buy raised bed kits. Find out how build a raised bed with scaffold boards.

Square, wooden raised bed with a purple flower planting theme

Specimen plants

Renting needn't mean have to stick to low-cost, temporary plants. Large, specimen plants like tree ferns or other young shrubs and trees can be planted in containers and taken with you when you move. Consider scented shrubs like roses, lilacs, fothergilla, osmanthus and philadelphus.

Philadelphus 'Minnesota Snowflake'
White philadelphus blossom

Container gardening

You can grow almost any plant in a pot or container. For edible plants to grow, check out these top fruits for growing in containers. To save money while planting up several containers, buy small plug plants to pot on. As for shade, try easygoing shade-lovers like muehlenbeckia, hardy geraniums, hostas and ferns. You can even try container ponds like this mini pond.

A container for shade planted with an azalea and purple flowering lilyturf

Quick crops

For quick crops of tasty veg, try these compact, space-saving crops, which include easy-to-grow plants like radishes, spring onions and runner beans. Other fast-growing veg to grow includes beetroot, salad leaves and spinach.

Harvesting spinach


Houseplants are a great place to start for green-fingered tenants. In the warmer months of the year they'll relish a spot in the garden and will reward you with lots of growth. Dot them on tables and around seating areas to enjoy their flowers and foliage when you're outdoors.

Selection of houseplants (photo credit: Getty Images)
Wooden planters of herbs and veg

Projects for rented gardens


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