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Rental garden ideas

By Emma Smith

If you want to get your bond back in full it’s crucial to keep the condition of the property you’re renting consistent with the condition report. While this means no major changes to the garden, there are other easy ways you can update this precious space.

Garden-loving renters know the challenges of creating a beautiful garden at home. As rental properties can often be temporary, it’s a tricky feat to put the hard work into creating a beautiful garden only to leave it behind when the lease wraps up.

Luckily, if you’re looking for rental garden ideas, there are a number of simple tricks you can try to create a beautiful garden at home. The best bit? Many of these rental garden ideas are affordable and easy to implement which is great if you’re gardening on a budget. We’ve chatted to five gardening experts to get their top rental garden ideas and tips to inspire you to create a thriving garden at your rental property.

There are a number of simple tricks you can try to create a beautiful garden in a rental home. Picture: Ingrid Devlin

1. Pots and containers

If you’re a renter with a penchant for gardening, the last thing you want to do is leave your precious plants behind when you inevitably vacate.

Ingrid Devlin from Gardening With Ingrid says: “When renting, you want something portable so you can take it with you. Plant in attractive pots that have handles so they are easier to move. Look for fibreglass and reusable, decorative plastic pots. These are also ideal for planting on decks and balconies where weight is a consideration.”

Her tip for acquiring cool planter pots on a budget? “Check your local second hand shop for old tin containers and watering cans; they are an attractive and rustic way to pot your plants and vegetables”.

Horticulturalist and Victa ambassador Adam Woodhams says, “Herbs, most veggies and many fruit trees do really well in pots so it’s easy to have a portable garden if you need to move sooner than expected.

Want to make sure those plants thrive in their pots? Adam suggests using a premium potting mix as they’ll be lighter and will keep your plants healthier for longer.

As for small spaces, one of the best gardening tips for renters that Adam recommends is to use square and rectangular pots; they maximise space and can be pushed right into corners and flush against walls.

Need a moveable garden for your rental? Try planter pots which are perfect for courtyards and balconies alike — just opt for lightweight planters, especially for balconies which may have weight limitations. Picture: Adam Woodhams

2. Lay down some mulch

Keeping your plants suitably hydrated in Australia’s harsh and often dry climate can really start to rack up a big water bill — especially if your plants are in pots. The solution to achieving a low-maintenance garden is, quite simply, mulch.

Mulch will do wonders in keeping your plants hydrated and healthy. Picture: Getty

“The best way to keep a garden low-maintenance and sustainable is to lay down some mulch,” says Adam. Mulch helps to retain moisture and feeds the soil, boosting plant health. It also suppresses weeds so the garden looks great and well cared for when owners inspect it, says Adam.

The best way to mulch is to spread it around in a layer at least 5cm thick and to avoid pushing it up against plant stems.

3. Go for low-maintenance plants

Low-maintenance plants are a great idea for gardens at rental properties; think a good-looking garden without all the hard work and upkeep!

Ingrid suggests natives and succulents for low-maintenance and low-water consumption gardens. “Succulents are easy to care for and look beautiful in pots around sitting areas or at door entrances”, Ingrid says adding that “natives and grasses can make attractive displays in gardens and pots and are naturally suited to the Australian environment”.

Claire Henderson from Growing Inspirations agrees and says succulents can stay in the same pot for many years, as long as the pot has well-draining soil from the outset.

Succulents are a great option for a low-maintenance garden as they’re hardy, like growing in pots, and don’t require much watering. Picture: Ingrid Devlin

4. Indoor plants are your friend

When it comes to creating a beautiful garden, most people think about lush courtyards and expansive backyards. Gardens don’t have to be outside, however; indoor plants are a perfect option for renters as they’re in pots and are easily transported.

Inge Jabara from Inge Jabara Landscapes recommends placing a few indoor plants around your living room, bathroom and bedroom to green up any rental space. As they are all in pots they can come with you when you move.

Ingrid suggests considering adding plants to the bathroom as this room often has higher humidity than the rest of the house. “The low light creates a perfect environment for many tropical plants like ferns that grow well in these conditions. Indoor plants also have the added benefit of improving air quality and increasing oxygen levels, perfect for your morning wake-up routine,” Ingrid says.

5. Think about plant positioning

If you want a thriving garden it’s important to get the position of your plants just right — especially if you’re planning on growing an edible garden. Ingrid says: “You need think about the position you want to place the plant in so that it receives enough light. North-facing is best for an edible garden”.

To find the right spot in the garden, Ingrid suggests westerly facing may be too hot in summer (given Australia’s harsh climate), however this can be resolved with a shade cloth or umbrella on the hot days for protection.

6. Balcony gardens

Not all rental properties are created equal — especially rental property gardens. If you’re in an apartment building where you miss out on having a backyard it’s worth checking if there are any community garden areas in the building that you can access. Failing that, you can grow plants on the balcony — if you have one — or even the windowsill.

When it comes to growing plants on balconies, Ingrid suggests the self-watering railing planters you can get from most hardware stores. “These self-watering planters have a drip tray at the bottom of them. If you utilise this the plant can retrieve water when it requires. It’s very handy so you don’t have to water every day,” says Ingrid.

Short on space or renting an apartment? Balconies can be a great place for a small but moveable garden. Picture: Adam Woodhams

7. Budget-friendly gardening

Avid gardeners know that gardening can quickly become an expensive hobby. While you’re renting you might just be trying to save up a house deposit which means you don’t want to blow your salary on greenery. The good news is having a flourishing garden is totally possible on a budget.

Talei Kenyon from the Diggers Club says: “The first big decision is to sort out what investment you want to make in your garden. If you are a thrifty gardener you can rummage through op shops, garage sales and hard rubbish collections to find containers to transform. You’re not only saving money but helping reduce waste by recycling old containers, pots and wheelbarrows. You can even hang shoe organisers and reuse them as vertical gardens”.

Need a budget-friendly rental garden idea? Avoid spending up big on expensive planters and pots and head to the thrift store and get creative with other containers instead. Picture: Ingrid Devlin

8. Grow a garden you can eat

While a transportable garden might be preferable when you’re renting, if you do want to get some plants in the ground it’s a good idea to opt for an edible garden — that way you get something from it, even if you have to leave it behind when you move.

Plus, by growing your own herbs, fruit and veggies, you can save money on your grocery bill (read: more money for plants, that house deposit, or brunch!).

Ask your landlord if you can plant a raised garden bed, or opt for pots for a transportable edible garden instead. Picture: Ingrid Devlin

Ingrid says: “If you’re renting somewhere that has a garden, speak to your landlord about adding raised beds or growing veggies in the garden. Many landlords will be very open to planting veggies in the garden”.

9. Plant the pots in the ground

Ever wanted a portable garden that doesn’t look portable? Planting pots in the garden bed is a clever rental garden idea to achieve a more natural looking garden that can still be moved if needed. Just be ready to do the digging..

Adam says: “when you’re selecting fruit trees go for dwarf varieties. Peaches, apples, limes and just about everything in between are available in small forms making them perfect for pots on balconies or decks and in courtyards.”

Opt for pots: dwarf peaches can fruit in abundance even in pots. Picture: Adam Woodhams

If you want a fruit tree in a pot that doubles as a privacy screen, Adam suggests traditional growing techniques such as espalier where a tree, generally a fruit tree, is trained onto a flat surface. “You can do this on a section of screening material and you’ll have a living, fruiting privacy screen that’s portable, too,” he says.

Clever rental garden idea: choose dwarf varieties of plants like dwarf peaches or dwarf mulberries to have fruit trees in your rental garden. Picture: Adam Woodhams

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