This is a guest post from Houzz- a platform for home remodeling and design, bringing homeowners and home professionals together in a uniquely visual community.
Make your garden, patio or balcony feel like your own -- whether or not you own the place -- with a few simple, low-commitment gardening strategies. Create a lush patio garden entirely in containers, take advantage of movable outdoor seating and planting boxes, work with your landlord and more. Here are 12 ideas for tenants to bring style, personality and more green to a rental property's outdoor space.
1. Take stock of your starting point. If you're lucky enough to have moved in somewhere with good bones -- an existing patio or deck, raised planting beds or an inviting shade tree -- look for ways to show off these elements and make them your own.
For example, a handsome existing deck forms a strong starting point for this small backyard in Austin, Texas. Cafe lights, a portable fire pit, potted plants, colorful chairs and cushy throw pillows add a lot more personality.
2. Invest in flexible seating.Stylish outdoor furniture that can be moved to accommodate your needs (or a house change) is a must-have for a renter's garden. There are plenty of chairs, tables and lounges on the market to suit any style and budget.
If you can't find the perfect fit, consider making a simple custom piece. Architect Oonagh Ryan created this flexible bench by inserting a wooden seat into concrete blocks as a base. The bench can be easily separated into seat and base and moved.
3. Give your entrance presence. Up the charm of your front door with a few personal touches like colorful potted plants, a cafe table for enjoying your morning coffee or a small mounted vertical garden. Adding personal elements to the entrance can be particularly effective in making a rental unit in a large rental complex feel like your own.
4. Add garden art. One of the simplest ways to make a garden feel like your own is to add unique, personal elements that speak to you in some way. These could be sculptures, found objects like interesting stones, shells or driftwood, or respectfully presented spiritual symbols. When you're ready to move on from your rental, garden art is easy to take with you to your next home.
5. Go all-out with containers.Potted plants are a renter's best friend when it comes to increasing growing space on patios, rooftops or terraces. Plus, growing in containers allows for a flexible design, simple seasonal planting changes and easy transport if you move. Turn a stark urban entrance into a lush patio garden with layers of different-size containers planted to the brim with colorful foliage and swaying grasses.
You can grow a good-sized edible garden all in containers on a sunny terrace. Purchased at Ikea for $9 each, these sleek dark-glazed ceramic pots (measuring about 12 inches across and a little deeper) contain a culinary smorgasbord of fragrant mint, variegated sweet basil, tarragon, golden sage, purple sage and chives.
For the ultimate flexibility, consider putting wheels on larger planters so you can easily move them to change the arrangement on your patio.
6. Roll out an outdoor rug. Outdoor rugs pack the biggest style punch for a deck or terrace with the least effort. Choose a bright patterned style to set the stage for your garden or opt for a more understated design. Either way, an outdoor rug can help cover neglected decking and make a terrace feel like an extension of the home.
7. Treat artificial turf like an outdoor rug. Yes, it sounds like a design faux pas, but synthetic turf can be a useful material for making a terrace, balcony or small urban garden feel greener. Place a square of artificial turf as a soft, grassy mat under an outdoor seating area. Plus, artificial turf can be rolled up like a carpet and taken with you when you move out.
8. Increase privacy with potted plants. Urban apartments often have less-than-ideal views of adjacent buildings. To increase your privacy without investing in building a fence, use fast-growing plants in containers to form a living privacy screen. Tall ornamental grasses, such as 'Karl Foerster' feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster', USDA zones 4 to 9; find your zone), provide an effective screen on this balcony garden in London. Other quick-growing options include bamboo and tree ivy (x Fatshedera lizei, zones 8 to 11).
9. Bring plants indoors. If you don't have much outdoor space, grow potted herbs, ornamental houseplants and small trees, such as fiddleleaf fig (Ficus lyrata), indoors. A simple kitchen rack mounted across a sunny window and hung with potted plants forms a counter-space-saving solution (and makes harvesting the herbs convenient).
10. Just add water. A simple water element on a patio or balcony helps replace the noise of the city -- traffic, air conditioning units and leaf blowers -- with the soothing sound of water. For rental properties, look for recirculating designs that can moved and taken with you.
11. Look for unused spaces. Increase your green space (and cover any unattractive fences or walls) with vertical gardens, hanging baskets and wall-mounted containers. Many apartment buildings have a light well -- that somewhat awkward interior space open to the outside -- that allows light to reach the depths of a building.
Designer Anoushka Feiler of Bestique Studio came up with a creative solution for turning a light well into an attractive garden for a client in London.
Feiler added wall-mounted containers (from a furniture fair in Paris) to the light well and filled them with easy-care plants. Instead of opening to a blank wall, now the rooms of the home open to an attractive vertical vignette.
12. Negotiate with your landlord. Talk to your landlord about larger property improvements. He or she may be willing to cover a portion of the price if the change you're proposing would increase the property value. For example, if the backyard of your rental is bare and weedy, your landlord might not be opposed to your adding raised beds or a gravel patio.
Still itching for more space to garden? Consider signing up for a plot (or putting your name on a waitlist for one) in your local community garden. Meet other gardeners in your neighborhood and enjoy a plot that is largely set up with a water hook-up, healthy soil and sometimes shared tools to support your efforts.