When I rented my first house in Wigan it had a tiny tiny tiny paved yard. While I wasn’t in a position to pull up the flags, I wanted my own green space.
It is possible, and importantly, it’s possible on a budget.
Pots can help bring a yard to life without making a permanent impact, whilst still providing vital food for bees and pollinators, insects and birds.
In addition to regular plant pots, I’ve used tin tubs, half beer barrels, wooden planters, and pots in my garden. They all add character! You can be creative, ‘junk’ might look great with some mud and a plant in.
If you’re using a more unusual container, just need to make sure you can make a hole or 2 in the bottom and the material is non-toxic.
To find pots, local garden centres are a good place to start, and also the Facebook marketplace is great for finding cheap second-hand pots and containers. I’ve found some real bargains there! You also find more unusual containers that will add some character.
If possible, you want to get a good size container/pot. As then if you miss a few days watering in the summer, it’ll hold enough moisture to survive. Small pots dry up very quickly in a sunny spot, and can become tough to take care of.
If you own the property, and flags were already there when you arrived, as is often the case around here. Would you consider pulling 1 or 2 up?
Plants in the ground have a much better chance of surviving these recent hot summers and will be able to better establish roots and grow strong.
Enough mature plants instead of paving will also make an impact on the risk of flooding.
When you lack in space, go up! Boxes, planters, ladders leaning against a wall, all add to the feeling of green surroundings, and many more plants and flowers, without taking up valuable floor space.
You can consider shelves, or hooks, wall planters, window boxes, and more. You can be really creative here.
If you’re able to drill into the walls, then wall planters are a great way to add some greenery vertically.
When I think of Window boxes, I often think of France or Italy, but there’s no reason not to use them here. Their beauty is 2 fold in that you can see them from indoors, giving you a lovely view from the lounge, but also outdoors it adds some more vibrant colour higher up.
Using a sturdy wooden frame as a base with bars across, affix your planters with screws, they can just be plastic pots.
If you angle them facing forward slightly and put them close together, once the plants are in you won’t see the pots at all, you’ll just see an amazing wall of green and flowers.
Quite often smaller yards or gardens have brick on all sides or fences. There aren’t many ways for creatures to get in or out. Have a look around your garden around the floor? Where are potential entry/exit points? Can you make a little hole in the fence bottom to allow a route? Or next time fences are replaced, put them in a bit higher above the ground. This will make your garden way more accessible.
Or even better, can you replace a fence with a thick hedgerow? This will provide shelter for birds, possibly food, and a great little route for hedgehogs to enter. Hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel, holly etc are great wildlife choices. Trim late in the year after nesting is over.
If you have a quiet corner of the garden or yard, a bug hotel doesn’t take up much space at all. It’ll give a home to all sorts of insects and solitary bees. You can buy them fairly inexpensively or they’re also quite easy to make yourself,
You want to find a cool sheltered spot away from predators, it wants to be partially shady if possible. You can fix it to a fence post or a tree and soon you’ll start to see signs of life in there.
If you do have a spare corner on the ground, you can also consider stacking deadwood piles up (preferably with the bark still on), you can also drill a few holes into the wood of different widths. And maybe popping your old cuttings / dead leaves down in a corner. It’ll encourage more wildlife from beetles to hedgehogs to come and seek refuge in your garden particularly over the winter.
Having a lack of space needn’t stop you from starting to grow your veg.
Mini-greenhouses can be very useful and they take up little space. Some of the very cheapest plastic ones can fly away on a gusty day, so keep it weighted down with bricks!
Even with those cheap ones, I’ve grown peppers, chilis, tomatoes, basil and much more before. These days, I have a wooden greenhouse, so it’s more sturdy, but it’s still miniature, and it does the job!
For any of these ideas, for a grade that attracts and retains wildlife, you always want to consider planting species that are good for pollinators with nectar-rich plants for the bees, butterflies and moths etc.
You also want to consider plants that flower and seed at different times, if everything blooms in summer, it’s harder for birds and pollinators to make your garden home, as the food runs out!
So spread it out and have some spring bloomers, summer and autumn. It’ll also look more beautiful to have different displays all year round. So it’s a win-win.
Hopefully, this post will help inspire you to make your own small beautiful garden.
please share your photos on Instagram by tagging us @giveitagrowwigan or using the hashtag #giveitagrow
If you want to help Improve where you live in Wigan, for your own well-being and for wildlife, see how you can get involved, we'd love to hear from you.