Small spaces for nature

No matter how small your space, there's lots of ways to attract nature to your courtyard, balcony or windowsill.

Birdbath surrounded by a garden of groundcover with yellow flowers, shrubs and trees.

Be creative! You don’t need a garden to green your home.

You can grow plants in pots, on trellises, in wall gardens or hanging baskets.

The more you surround yourself with greenery, the better you’ll feel. And you'll provide food and shelter for your local wildlife, like bees and butterflies.

Make the most of your small spaces

Front view of grey double story terrace house with coloured pot plants hanging from upstairs verandah with a dark grey lacy fence.

Here’s some tips for how to bring nature into your small space:

  • use a trellis or reinforced mesh to support climbing plants
  • hang well-secured baskets around the railing and fill them with herbs, succulents or flowering plants like native daisies and violets
  • grow climbing vegetables like tomatoes, peas, and beans in hanging baskets
  • grow flowering plants and herbs to provide food for beneficial insects like ladybirds or lacewings, which control pests like aphids or scale
  • choose natives when you can, although exotic plants attract native butterflies and bees too
  • don’t use poisons – they can impact your health and kill beneficial insects.

Create your green space

Corner of a garden with a white table and chairs on a sandstone slab in front of 2 grey block walls. In the foreground 6 sandstone stepping stones with native pants on either side lead to the table and chairs.

First, think about where to put your plants.

Will your plants like moist and shady or sunny and dry conditions?

In Sydney, north-facing windows and balconies will get the most sun in winter. East-facing areas enjoy gentle morning sun, and west-facing positions get the harsher afternoon sun.

Balconies can be exposed to wind and sun so use hardier plants in exposed places.

Enjoy your plants by adding seating among them.

Photo: A corner of the garden makes a great spot for a beautiful native garden. Jon Kingston

Two raised corrugated metal pots with citrus plants on concrete.Citrus, dwarf fruit trees and some native shrubs can be grown in pots or other containers.

Many herbs, lettuce, spinach, Asian greens and succulents do well in pots, too.

Some plants may not grow well in pots, so check this when you buy your plants.

Water according to your plants needs and position. Plastic pots hold more moisture than terracotta or concrete, so choose the right pot for your plant.

Choose lightweight pots and a good-quality potting mix if you want to move the pots around, otherwise they’ll be too heavy.

Photo: Large corrugated metal pots work well for growing citrus plants. Belinda Leo

Pots and plants in a garden including white paper daisies, plants with purple and yellow flowers, and a retaining wall and pot in the background.Bee-loving plants also attract butterflies and other beneficial insects.

Bees love blue and yellow but will also visit other coloured flowers. Plants to grow include daisies, flowering herbs (basil, mint, thyme, rosemary), salvias, lavender, and natives suited to pots. Try and grow plants that flower at different times of the year so that bees and other insects can feed all year round.

Photo: Bee-friendly plants, including the native paper daisy (Rhodanthe anthemoides). Lyn Raffan

An old wheelbarrow nestled between large dead tree branches and rocks has been turned into a frog pond with native plants and water lillies growing on the water surface.Small spaces can be used in other ways to support native plants and attract native animals.

Create a decorative bee or insect hotel using easily found materials.

Turn your fruit and vegetable scraps into fertiliser for your plants by putting a worm farm in a shady part of your balcony or courtyard. Your local council may provide you with a discounted worm farm, so check first.

Attract dragonflies, birds and frogs with a pond in your courtyard. You could also grow edible water plants in your pond, including watercress, Vietnamese mint and water spinach.

Set up a birdbath on your balcony or in your courtyard and provide an important water source for birds and bees in hot weather, a great way to attract more birds to your space too.

Photo: An old wheelbarrow repurposed as a frog pond and the frogs love it. An emerald spotted tree frog is a frequent visitor. Doug Beckers