Monday, 30 November -0001

Top tips for making the most of a small garden

As one grows older, tending a large garden becomes more difficult, meaning that many choose a property with more manageable outdoor space when making the decision to downsize. A terrace or balcony does not mean that one can no longer reap the benefits of a green-fingered lifestyle – in fact they can offer the ideal spaces for growing flowers, herbs and vegetables, as well as offering al fresco entertaining spaces during the summer months.

A recent YouGov survey commissioned by Anchor, England's largest not for profit provider of housing for the over 55s, found that moving somewhere with green space was the second most pressing concern for downsizers. With this in mind, most properties at Anchor's new Hampshire Lakes and Bishopstoke Park retirement villages come complete with either a balcony or terrace in addition to benefitting from communal landscaped gardens with which residents are welcome to get involved. Many of our residents choose Anchor developments safe in the knowledge that they will find like-minded neighbours at their new home and we ensure that there is the infrastructure and support is in place to encourage community groups and societies – the village gardening club is an eternal favourite!

Having spoken with both staff and residents, Anchor has put together some top tips for pocket size planting:

1. Window boxes and hanging baskets. These planters can be hung over balconies and from wall hooks, further extending space available for growing flowers and herbs which will add colour and variety during the summer and improve the aesthetic of the property.

2. Outdoor seating. 'Parisian' style metal round tables and chairs take up little space as the chairs can be folded away when not in use. Having outdoor seating will encourage optimum use of the balcony or terrace during the summer months and provide the perfect space to enjoy a glass of wine and watch the world go by.

3. Cooking for the kitchen. Having a smaller garden does not mean that one cannot grow herbs and vegetables: herbs and salad can be easily grown in small pots and tomatoes can be grown up trellises fixed to the wall. We also have kitchen garden areas in many of our properties where people can grow their own produce.

4. Bird feeders. Hanging baskets can double up as bird feeders during the winter months or simple hanging feeders are available from any garden centre. These feeders will contribute to the biological diversity of the outdoor space and are an effective way for bird watchers to boost material for their notebooks.

5. Getting involved with communal gardening. Of course it is not possible to lay turf or grow deeper rooting plants on a terrace or balcony. Those who no longer wish to hold sole responsibility for the upkeep of a large garden but nonetheless still want to retain some level of gardening expertise are encouraged to get involved with the gardening of communal spaces at both Hampshire Lakes and Bishopstoke Park. Garden tools can be kept in the 'village shed' meaning residents can prune and dig with their own tools without having to give up storage space in their apartment.

Howard Nankivell is Sales and Marketing Director at Anchor, England's largest not-for-profit provider of housing and care to older people. Visit for more information.

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