Small Space Container Gardens by Fern Richardson

Longtime readers will know I’ve been a fan of Fern’s stylish blog Life on the Balcony for some time. Fern’s like an approachable version of Martha Stewart for container gardeners – while her photos and ideas are gorgeously inspiring, her projects are never so difficult or time-consuming that I feel I couldn’t possibly fit them into a weekend, unlike some of Martha’s cool but overly involved eye candy.

So when Fern’s new book Small-Space Container Gardens came out, I already had two copies pre-ordered, one for myself and one to give as a gift. I just knew I was going to love it. And sure enough, I do!

The book is structured as a total from-the-ground-up guide to having a gorgeous balcony garden. While you might think that would encompass only container planting, she also shares numerous tips on design and décor, dealing with narrow spaces, vertical gardening, and issues unique to balcony gardeners like how to deal with rain pouring in sheets off the roof and onto your potted plants.

Small Space Container Gardens Review photo by Fern RichardsonEven better, Fern’s DIY style is made easy and fun with numerous tutorials and crafts throughout the book. I absolutely adored this chalkboard planter idea for taking ordinary, inexpensive pots and making them cute and functional.

How many times have I gotten a call from a client just before dinnertime wondering whether the plant with big leaves was the oregano or the sage? Now, I can show horticulturally-challenged gardeners this tutorial and they can create their own (very chic) labeled pots for their edibles. What a great gift idea!

I felt this way with all of the tutorials in the book. Fern made everything look so elegant that I immediately wanted to rush out, get a few supplies, and make ’em happen. She showed a small-space DIY birdbath which would be perfect nestled among a few potted plants. And this mod-minimalist bird feeder? I totally want to adapt this project and make it my own (I mean, purple would be mod-minimalist too, right? Right?).

Small Space Container Gardens Review photo by Fern Richardson (3)

I also loved that Fern made cohesive garden design easy with her small-space patio design plans. She created full container planting designs for a Verdant and Vertical Garden, Potager With a Twist (some great edible and cocktail garden ingredients!), Succulents and Scents, and more. It’s not just the planting ideas, either; she mixes décor tips and layout ideas into her plans so you can see how all the elements fit together.

The book is beautifully-photographed and designed, and would make a great gift for the beginning or advanced container gardener. The text covers all that a beginner would need to know in clear language, while the designs and DIY projects offer enough interest to keep even pros like me coming back for more.

Want to win a copy for yourself? Timber Press has offered one up to a lucky reader! Just leave a comment for your chance to win. I’ll pick a winner at random on Friday April 6th, US only. Brynda is our winner. Congrats, Brynda!

(All photos copyright Fern Richardson)

98 responses to “Small Space Container Gardens by Fern Richardson”

  1. Living in Brooklyn, I am so the queen of gardening in tiny spaces! You should see my fire escape! I would love a copy of this book.

  2. I have a co-worker that would really benefit from this, so I’ll enter on her behalf in hope of winning it for her!!

  3. Oh I would *so* love a copy of this book! I was able to snap this up from the library immediately but there are so many people waiting for it after me that it’ll be ages before I can see it again… (Thanks for doing this drawing!)

  4. I love the sense of color in these photographs. It’s not just about the plants or pots – the whole space is a wonderful cohesive unit. I would love to glean some inspiration for my own tiny space!

  5. This book looks great. I could really use some small space gardening ideas for my patio.

  6. This is a much-desired book in our small apartment in Vancouver. We’ve figured out some things in containers but look to resources like this for solutions and further inspiration; especially in the North Coast climate! It would be great if you could make our day (especially his as he’s the gardener) and share the book. thank you!

  7. Originally from somewhere farther South, I’ve relied on container gardens to maintain my passion of caring for plants. This book would be a big help!

  8. I would love a copy of this, I have a lovely small garden, thats working towards looking amazing. <3

  9. I’m a novice gardener and am very interested in container gardening but have been afraid to get my feet wet. I would LOVE a copy of your book to guide me. Thank you for offering the opportunity. 🙂

  10. I’ve recently discovered container gardening and would LOVE a copy of this book!!!! From what I’ve seen, she makes it look effortless.

  11. Some great ideas for small spaces. Nice giveaway. Love that succluent container.

  12. I’ve been following Fern’s blog for about two years now and just LOVE her ideas. A copy of her book would definitely go to use in my house.

  13. I love container gardens and Fern’s blog too! Can’t wait to buy this book, unless I win it first! 🙂

  14. I’m passionate about gardening and I’d love a copy of this book! We’ll be moving to a smaller space in May and I’ll be doing more container gardening. I enjoy containers and I know the book will be an inspiration of ideas filled with great info. Thanks!

  15. Oh my goodness, I would love to have this book! I have been eying it for a while, and love her blog 🙂

  16. This book sounds like a wonderful guide for the summer’s work and winter’s dreaming (here in the northeast) .

  17. I just ran across your site via Pinterest and would love to win a copy of her blog. I have now added both your blogs to my favorites as I am always interested in great new ideas to “make” my balcony the envy of all my neighbors! 🙂

  18. Although I have a 1/3 acre yard, it has limited sun because of large trees so I grow my special plants in containers that can be moved around on the patios with the seasons. I am also having back and knee problems and finding that I need to rethink my yard and have plants that don’t need attention at ground level as the basics, and ones that need more care or that I like to putter with in containers up at least 18″ off the ground.

  19. I love garden books and do a lot of container gardening. This book sounds fabulous! Hope I win!

  20. Gardening with perennials is a hobby of mine, and I’ve started incorporating some into containers with annuals. Succulents are a new love now, too. I would really appreciate some ideas on using containers; combining groups, reusing, decorating, repainting, etc. I love combining plants, and learning some new ways to use containers in the design would be ideal.

  21. I get so overwhelmed with large scale gardening that I’d love to concentrate on small projects that are totally do-able.

  22. I am a newbie to gardening. This would be a great help in my quest to become a ‘green thumb’. Thanks for the giveaway!

  23. Small space gardening has become my favorite kind. Now that I’m retired, older of course and not always feeling well enough to dig in the soil, I want to learn more about this new way of gardening. What a beautiful book! Thanks for offering one in this contest.

  24. I’ve been redoing my containers, mostly with succulents but am also looking to grow more edibles. Can always use ideas…

  25. I love container gardening and love seeing how other people go about setting up theirs. It’s always amazing to find new ideas that others have come up with!

  26. Looking for some new ideas, and this book looks like it chock full of them! Especially loving more succulent ideas. There’s hope for me yet!!

  27. I’d love to win Fern’s book! It does look really pretty, and I do lots of container gardening at our condo 🙂

  28. Hi as a renter I am always looking for beautiful, healthy, bountiful and portable ideas on growing vegies and flowers in containers – I would love a copy of this book – thanks!

  29. The only thing keeping me out of the garden these days is my job. But I need my job to by mushroom compost, so the plot and tension is created!

  30. Her ideas look wonderful! I am always trying new things in pots..even though I have lots of gardens I am really partial to container gardening !


  31. I would lalalove this book. I’ve been trying to plan a container garden on a very tight budget and would love some great inspiration. I really would like to grow some of my own to decrease my dependency on big box super markets.

  32. As a landscape architect and garden designer in the city I run into the ‘limited space’ problem all the time. I could use the inspiration and creative suggestions to help clients make best use of their own small spaces.

  33. I would so appreciate this book…..last year was very challenging for me. My brother became terminally ill with ALS. I left my job to help in his caregiving. I wasn’t able to give my flowers the love & care I normally do. So here I am a year later missing my big brother tremendously! So I decided I am going to immerse myself in my garden this year. (My brother loved flowers.) I have not found another job yet; so I can’t buy anything “extra” like books, plants, pots, etc. So this would be a wonderful blessing to me! Thank you & God bless!

  34. The non-profit cooperative housing that I belong to is looking for things we can make to sell at craft fairs and such to raise funds for art supplies and other items for our kids…not to mention just wanting to have projects for them to be a part of. This is something we hadn’t thought of! I would love to win this book for that purpose…but even if I don’t win, I’m very happy to have happened upon this post!

  35. Oh, I really need this book! I just bought a million of those little succulents, and I have no clue how to combine them in containers.

  36. That photo of succulents is so pretty I had to click on it to see more! I would love to win a copy of the book!

  37. using every small bit of space to its best aadvantage is very important. It is important to be able to reduce landfill and waste by using things in a new way and this book appears to offer many suggestions

  38. I would love to win a copy of this book! I live in MN and do a mostly small container planting. With our cold weather it is nice to be able to bring the containers indoors in the fall so I can extend the season. I need new ideas for container planting!
    Thanks, enjoy your blogs..

  39. I love it! Especially the first photo – I am trying to find ways to improve my space with more plants. Thank you for the giveaway!

  40. I’m moving to a new apartment in May and am already planning my balcony garden. Would love to have this book!

  41. I’m always on the look-out for new and exciting ideas for gardening on our small condominium patio. I love adding unusual elements to create a visual and textural oasis to enjoy throughout the summer. Oh how I would love to own a copy of this book!

  42. I would love love love a copy of your book, I just made my first pallet herb garden from your site and can’t wait to find more diy ideas! Thank you so much for your inspiration!!

    Bradien HOover

  43. What a lovely idea, and thanks for sharing the wealth with your lucky readers! My balcony garden keeps me sane, and the book looks to have lots of ideas as I expand this summer.

  44. Small space gardening can work for even large land owners. Better to leave as much land as untouched as possible for our wild neighbors. They are losing ground to humans so quickly these days.

  45. Thank you for sharing. I am disabled and cannot bend down or get on the ground so I am starting a vegetable garden in raised tubs. I have to bring the garden up to me. I love the concept of container gardening.

  46. I would love to win a copy! I could so use Fern’s advice on container gardening . . . for umpteen years I have had a yard & have struggled for the last year and a half with having a container garden . . . my containers always had flowers but now I need to grow edibles, too . . . please please pick me . . . lol

  47. Thx for the chance – looks like just the book I need for my little townhouse yard. I wish I had a longer growing season here, but I suppose we try to make the most of the short time we have!

  48. Container gardening is so much easier than preparing a new garden plot. I’m a fan!

  49. We LOVE container gardens. For starters we have little time and not much yard – but we DO have a deck! Hurray for containers!

  50. Even though I have a yard to garden in, I love container gardening and vertical gardening. I’m trying the vertical gardening for strawberries this year. Can’t wait to see how it grows. I have a couple of pallets to do vertical also. Right now I’m busy with milkweed and Monarch caterpillars but I have seedlings growing for other projects too. Spring is a wonderful time of year.

  51. I have so much to learn about container gardening…I would love to add a copy to my library…THANKS!

  52. I hope to have two new patios by summer and would love to fill them with pretty containers. I would love to have this book.

  53. My “formula” for container gardening….thriller, spiller, filler. I use from 1 inch to 48 inch containers and have over 150 all sprouting flowers and/or suculents. Thank you for the new ideas.

  54. My cousin just moved into a new apartment and has a tiny entry that is dying for some plants. She just acquired a beautiful staghorn fern from my mother in law but it’s lonely and could use some company. She would LOVE this book and I’d love to give it to her as a housewarming gift.

  55. Always looking for better ways to spruce up the decks and patios. Thanks for the chance at Ferns’ book!

  56. What a treat it would be to have this book, having a small yard.YES!
    I bet it has millions of ideas!

  57. I have so much fun with containers! Winning this book would just help me be more creative! Every gardener loves a well executed container! Thanks for the chance.

  58. For the past 6 years I’ve been growing my herb and veggie garden in large pots and any other vessel that is large enough to contain roots. It began when my boyfriend and I moved to Seattle and took an apartment. Having been a homeowner for 20+ years I couldn’t stand not having soil under my nails and no fresh from the garden delights. That’s what set my container gardening into full speed ahead.
    Even though I lived in a rural community off-the-grid in NC for the past year I still utilized my containers around my living space and planted a small garden in a 10’x20′ space. One of our neighbors commented, “You have the best example of maximizing every inch of available space on your tiny site.”
    I’m back on the grid now and my containers are sitting just outside the door. I picked up some veggie plants, a blueberry bush, and some fresh pro-mix to at the seed store the other day to begin another season.
    I’ve become so fond of container gardening that even when we do get some land again next spring I will still continue growing in my assortment of containers (ranging from your typical huge pots to cardboard lined milk crates) – I’m always keeping an eye out for new ideas in regards to planting and what to plant the plants in… not to mention content for a new herb and gardening blog I’m beginning. Thanks!

  59. My sister does a lot of small container gardening, mostly succulents and herbs. This seems like such a great book–I think I will have to get her a copy for her birthday!

  60. I am a huge fan of container gardens and love incorporating the containers into my square foot vegetable garden. I would love to read this book and maybe pick up a few new ideas.

  61. I just made her tiny project with chicks and hens in an Altoid tin…so cute. I will also make it in the tinier Altoid tin later this week! LOVE IT!!!

  62. I’d love to win a copy of this book. We are first time home owners on an adventure to learn how to garden and we love reference books! : )

    Thank you

  63. I just got turned on to Fern’s blog by a friend of mine and am OBSESSED. I can’t wait to fully go through the history and check out everything that has been posted! I just started container gardening in January and have found it to be very therapeutic and rewarding. Would love to win a copy of her book for even more inspiration!

  64. We move a lot, so container gardening is perfect for our family. I haven’t had much luck with it, so some direction and tips on how to do it successfully would be awesome.

  65. I have been container gardening for years starting in Alaska in 1970. Growing in the cold, non-nutrient soil in a logging camp in SE Alaska Prince of Wales Island was not a choice so my mother-in-law showed me how to plant in containers including hardhats, loggers boots, kettles, buckets etc. Now I make my own self-watering containers for patio planters.

  66. Love small space gardening esp since I have to garden close to my house. Can’t drag hoses around like I used to (had some surgery that limits my activities). I’d like to combine her ideas w/ my love of succulents!

  67. I’d love to win this! I’ve been looking at starting a small container garden.