Tiny gardens have a big impact

Tiny gardens have a big impact

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GO GREEN: Despite living in a townhouse, gardener Brett Ross is able to grow a large variety of food in his front garden.

GO GREEN: Despite living in a townhouse, gardener Brett Ross is able to grow a large variety of food in his front garden.

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No space? No problem. Go green with these tips.

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HAVING a small space is no excuse not not to get your hands dirty.

Whether you live in an apartment, townhouse or on a three acre property, there's plenty of ways you can produce your own produce at home.

Brett Ross, from the NSW Central Coast, has transformed his small front yard into a high-yield garden that produces more than enough vegetables to feed his family.

He pays careful attention to what he plants to maximise his space.

"I focus on high-return crops like loose leaf lettuce that i can cut and come again throughout the growing season to have a steady supply," Mr Ross said.

"I have a range of herbs in pots, which saves money and waste and tastes much better than the dried equivalent."

Mr Ross said he also used climbing variety of plants where possible, planted microgreens and had a worm farm for composting.

It's healthy

There are plenty of benefits to gardening, aside from being a fun hobby.

According to University of New South Wales' built environment associate professor Paul Osmond, even small gardens can have a large impact on our health.

"Part of the joy of interacting with a garden is maintaining it - watering it, composting it, harvesting it - through the entire cycle," the avid gardener said.

"But masses of work has been done relating to the importance of nature, or biophilia, to health."

He says that balcony gardens can be a great place to relax and de-stress.

"There are the basic health benefits of getting fresh air, getting your hands dirty, interacting with plants and nature, which is a known way of relieving stress. It also improves physical health if you're outside, and you're able to be active."

"It exposes you to a truncated version of nature," he said.

Working with your available space

Any space, even the size of a balcony, can be adequate for starting a garden.

"Not everybody lives in a house with a backyard ... [nevertheless] those who live in flats with balconies can [still] grow a lot," Professor Osmond said.

Growing herbs, vegetables, even small fruit trees is possible.

"The avenues for species selection are pretty broad. You really can choose anything you like. I would recommend lower maintenance plants just on the grounds of saving water and avoiding the use of chemical fertilisers."

Another emerging trend in balcony gardens is design integration. More recent apartment developments have started to include - green walls as well as balconies, like One Central Park vertical hanging garden.

"If you're living in a city where you've got a lot of apartment buildings and you've got the option of grey walls or vertical greening, then there's a great social benefit because those views of nature, being immersed in nature is better than just looking at concrete.

"[And] if you, yourself, are looking at greening and [are] interested in plants which you can shower with benign neglect, rather than being actively cared for and attended to and maintained, a lot of our local natives are pretty hardy in that respect."

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