Adding Plants When You Can't Dig

Alivia Whitaker | July 31, 2018 @ 12:00 AM

Many people are unable to have traditional landscaping and gardening because of space or inability to "dig" on their property - that's why we've given you the top ways of adding plants when you can't dig.

You may be unable to break ground on your property because of water lines, or maybe you live in an apartment and have no land to dig on!  Whatever the reason breaking earth in the traditional way doesn't work for you, we've detailed ways to get around this.  Here's how to add plant life to any home no matter if you can dig or not!

Adding Plants When You Can't Dig: Hanging Baskets

Our top tip for adding plants when you can't dig is hanging baskets!!  If you can't go down into the ground - go up!  Beautiful flowering or plant hanging baskets are the quickest and most aesthetically pleasing way for adding plants when you can't dig.  They instantly brighten, add color and green to any outdoor space.

They can be added to a porch, patio or any area with an outcropping that they can be hung from.  You can buy them prearranged or plant them yourself if you want to get some soil under those fingernails!

Thompson Morgan gave their top 10 best tips for hanging baskets: 

"Always use a good quality compost as plants grown in a small area need the best possible start.

Choose the right plants for baskets; not all plants are suitable. Read the product copy carefully and make sure that you select long flowering varieties and plants with scent.

Plant up your baskets in April to allow the plants to establish before putting your baskets outside when the risk of frost has passed.

Side planting is essential to grow an avalanche of colour. Any basket under 38cm (15in) makes this diffi cult. The new 14in Easy Fill hangingbasket, as featured, is the best basket for side planting. Dont be tempted by cheaper, smaller baskets - they'll dry out within hours in hot weather.

Always add Incredibloom®and Swell Gel to the compost, as plants are always very hungry and thirsty.

To have interesting baskets all year round, it's essential to have two sets so that you dont have to wait for your summer baskets to finish flowering before planting up your winter baskets.

The removal of all the first flowers, as well as pinching shoot tips, will enable the plant to put all of its efforts into growing stronger roots and in turn, will lead to thousands of flowers throughout the long season.

Water regularly throughout the season, being particularly vigilant in hot weather.

Top dressing your baskets with Incredibloom®saves messing about with liquid feeds.

Regular maintenance is essential to grow a stunning basket to last the season. Deadheading and trimming when the plants start to look straggly will encourage many more blooms."

Adding Plants When You Can't Dig: Window Boxes

If you don't have a flower bed - just create a flower box!  Window boxes are perhaps the loveliest answer when thinking about adding plants when you can't dig.  They are beautiful on almost any structure and instantly add character.  They create a breath of fresh air in any space.  Plus - they are not too complicated. wrote about how to create window planters the right way:

"Combine flowering plants and those with attractive foliage in window boxes to add color to decks, window sashes, and porch rails.

Tools and Materials

  • Window box
  • Potting mix for containers
  • Water source and watering can
  • Plants with attractive flowers and foliage
  • Flowering plant fertilizer, water-soluble

Design principles.Mix plants with trailing, spiky upright, and "fluffy" growth habits, as well as large, medium, and small leaves. Choose a color scheme or color combinations that complement your home or landscape. Red, yellow, orange, bright pink, and white look good from a distance, while blue, purple, and dark green show best at close range.

Select containers. Choose containers that fit your decor and available space and are at least 8 inches wide and deep. Be sure they have drainage holes or plan to drill your own. If mounting under a window, use a box that is a couple of inches smaller than the width of the window for best appearance.

Add potting mix. Purchase a sterile potting mix containing peat, perlite, and other ingredients that improve drainage, aeration, fertility, and water-holding capacity. Consider using a water-absorbing polymer to decrease watering frequency. Fill your window box about half full with the potting mix, and add water to moisten the mix if it's dry. Do not use regular garden soil.

Add the plants. Plan to set plants about 2 to 5 inches apart in the box, depending on their mature size. Slip plants out of their pots without pulling on the stems and gently untangle any circling roots. Set the tallest plants, such as geraniums, in the back of the box. Let the trailing plants, such as lobelia, hang over the front and sides. Fill in with the fluffy plants, such as pansies or impatiens. Fill the spaces between plants with soil mix, tapping gently. Water thoroughly to settle the soil.

Maintain the plants. Window boxes require frequent watering - often daily in hot, dry weather. Soak the soil completely at each watering. Use a water-soluble flowering plant fertilizer dissolved at one-quarter strength once a week or according to package instructions. Trim dead flowers and straggly growth and replace plants that perish or look ratty. Remove some plants if the box becomes too crowded or requires watering too frequently.


Test color and design combinations at the garden center by mixing and arranging potted plants before you buy them.

Anchor boxes securely under windows with galvanized L-shaped brackets screwed into wood or masonry. On decks and porches, hang boxes from brackets that drape over the deck railings."

Adding Plants When You Can't Dig: Indoor Plants

Indoor plants are an excellent option for adding plant life if you can't "dig" where you live. The great thing about indoor plants is that they are varied, can be representative of a wide-range of design styles and are fairly easy to keep alive.

  • Hanging plants - macrame, metallic, midcentury modern or rustic hanging planters
  • Modern counter planters, minimalist plant holders, shabby chic planters
  • Trees or large plants can be potted in ceramic planters, high quality baskets, metallic or terra-cotta planters

Adding Plants When You Can't Dig: Box Gardening and Garden Planters

We've talked about box gardening on the blog before and it's no wonder why!  When looking at adding plants when you can't dig, this is THE perfect solution!  Box gardening requires no digging into the earth and is a way to get your garden going in a small space.

It's eco friendly, generally has less weeds and is better on your back.

SF Home Guides detailed great advice for garden planters:

"Flowering plants and vegetable plants produce roots that can grow 12 inches or deeper into soil. A bottomless garden box can be shallower than 12 inches if you loosen and break up the soil beneath it so plant roots can penetrate that earth easily. A box at least 12 inches deep is necessary if you want the plants to grow primarily in the soil you provide or if that box has a bottom. If plants cannot send out healthy, full-size roots, then their top growth suffers and they grow poorly or die prematurely.

The major benefits of a garden box are in its soil. You can use the optimum soil mixture so your plants grow healthy roots, foliage, flowers and vegetables regardless of the native soil in your yard. A quality topsoil that is combined with compost to add organic matter creates a loose and well-draining mixture, but it contains some nutrients, too. The compost also helps the soil retain just enough moisture so it doesn't dry out quickly. Garden box soil tends to dry quickly because the water it receives drains from the box's bottom. Starting with a good soil helps to minimize that issue.

Most flowering plants and vegetable plants need 1 to 2 inches of water per week from irrigation or rain. The moisture in a garden box drains out the box's bottom or evaporates from the top of the soil quickly because the bulk of the box sits above ground. Prevent wilting and encourage healthy roots by watering the box's soil when it begins to dry; determine whether or not the soil is beginning to dry by feeling it every two or three days. Keeping the soil evenly moist but not soggy results in healthier roots. A mulch -- plastic, wood chips or straw -- prevents soil from drying too quickly."

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