Author Options:

Logistical Concerns: Building a Garden on my Apartment Patio Answered

Edit/Update: I AM BACK (for those of you that know me, which is no one, :( womp) and I have decided to do this. I have moved apartments and am now on a nice first floor apartment with a large patio. I am planning things out and going to do some math this week. I am just curious, is there anything like this out there? I know I've seen those hanging gardens where the water trickles down? That is only good enough to grow herbs/small plants etc. Anything else? Thanks for your time everyone.

I found this website today, and I have to say that I am glad I did! I've literally spent hours scouring the guides and have this idea in mind. Even through the questions I pose here, I must always keep in mind, "Will it work?" So please keep that question in mind as well.

I have a space on my apartment patio that is fairly large (I will get exact measurements at a later time). I will need an elevated garden (with a trough w/reservoir below to capture the water, I live on the second floor and I can't let it run down below). Considering I eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables, I'm also thinking of a compost tumbler.

First question, can I put almost anything in a compost tumbler that will break down, like fruits, vegetables, grass, leaves, et cetera,? Or does food waste and yard waste need to be separate?

I live in Southern California, so my patio gets about 5-6 hours of direct sunlight. I've also been reading that compost bins need some humidity as well. I was thinking of using the reservoir under the garden to put in the compost tumbler from time to time? Would this be effective/necessary?

Slugs might not be a problem because I'm on the second floor, but I'm thinking of keeping and Aloe plant out there and use the Aloe spray I saw in a guide. We do have squirrels, but are they attracted to Tomatoes, Cabbage, Basil, et cetera? If so, I will need to build some sort of cage that will keep them out.

Is this practical, necessary, and ultimately effective?

Thanks for your time ladies and gentlemen. If I do end up going through with this I will record the whole thing and put a guide up!



7 years ago



8 years ago

Is the patio elevated? You hint at this (you're a second-floor tenant, etc.)

If so, check the weight-bearing capacity of the patio. There should be some sort of official rating (like "maximum capacity: 8 people".) Tailor your garden (and # of guests) to assure safety.

Otherwise, go for it...

Great idea, thank you. I never thought about it like that but there are quite a few second floor tenants with TONS of stuff on their patios. But I will definitely check.

A well-built and stocked garden will weigh a lot more than piles of toys, bikes and patio furniture.

Depending on moisture and humous content, a cubic metre of soil can weigh as much as 2500kg (5500 lbs).

Thank you for the info. It won't be nearly that big. I'm looking to grow a couple of plants and some herbs, nothing too huge. Once I'm back, I will get some measurements and find out exactly how much weight I can put out there.

.  Unless ppl have been feeding them, most squirrels like to avoid humans. If there is much activity near your patio, squirrels shouldn't be a problem. I'd be more worried about birds.
.  You can keep out most small critters by using chicken wire or hardware cloth. I'd wait and see what happens before installing either - you may not need it.


Cooked food waste shouldn't go into a compost bin. There are some excellent guides to composting on instructables you should read.

My advice is start small, scale up if it works and you enjoy it. Start with your basil, some salad leaves, a few tomato plants and some zuchinni. They're all easy to grow and don't need a lot of love and care. If you find you love it you can always add more troughs and a composter. :)

this SHOULD be common sense but for some people it's not. with the exception of egg shells DO NOT PUT ANIMAL PRODUCTS IN YOUR COMPOST! you will regret it! my dad started a compost heap in the back yard when i was young (basically just a pile that he threw stuff in) and for the first year maybe, he was mixing in steak bits and such....bad idea, the smell is horrible, and finding maggots when you're looking for compost is a turn off.