Written by Shelby Deering

In just a few short months, the coronavirus pandemic has changed much in our lives. These days, for many of us, the majority of our time is spent at home, sheltering in place, working remotely and maybe even homeschooling a few little ones. If you’re anything like me, you’ve begun to feel grateful for the safety and sanctuary your home can provide, perhaps more than ever before.

I’ve spent a lot of my time feathering my nest: adding cozy, comforting touches to my décor, working on DIY projects and most importantly, weaving in new plants and greenery. With all the extra time we’re spending at home, is it any wonder that gardening has become more of a pastime than it even was previously. People are looking to indoor herb gardens to flavor their food in lieu of grocery store trips, getting their hands in the dirt and connecting with nature and beautifying their surroundings with vibrant flowers.

Even if you’re short on space, small indoor and outdoor gardens can instantly bring ambiance to your sanctuary—the bonus is that they can even double as a food source. Read on for a beginner’s guide to starting a garden (or two, or three) indoors and out.

Indoor Garden

With a little love, you can cultivate several miniature gardens throughout your home. For instance, let’s start with the kitchen. Depending on how much light you receive in your kitchen, you can easily grow an aromatic (and tasty!) herb garden filled with basil, rosemary and lemon verbena in your windowsill, in a series of pots on your counter or, if your kitchen doesn’t get a lot of sunlight, you can always turn to a hydroponic garden that grows with the help of an LED light. With this method, I’ve successfully grown basil, lavender and even flowers in my kitchen.

Another way to grow an indoor “garden” is to work a variety of houseplants into your shelf décor. With good light and dry conditions, you can scatter succulents, like aloe and jade plants, in tiny pots all around your framed photos, books and decorative objects. They’ll add some much-needed green to your visuals.

If you have a large picture window in your home, this is an ideal spot for an indoor container garden, filling it with sunlight-loving jade plants, cacti and ponytail palms. But, let’s say you live in a home that doesn’t get a ton of sunlight, which is the situation in my home. In this case, I’ve chosen low-light varieties including a snake plant, maidenhair fern and parlor palm for my home office and bathroom.

When working with virtually no room for an indoor garden and limited sunlight, I recommend wall planters. They’re ideal for a small strip of wall (I’m growing a satin pothos in my bathroom successfully in a wall planter) and you can hang several for a vertical garden displayed on your wall. It’ll look fresh, modern and bring ambiance to any small space.

Outdoor Garden

To really experience nature and get your hands dirty, an outdoor garden is a must-have, even if you don’t think you can find the space. Trust me—it’s possible in a small yard or an apartment.

If you live in a house, you can place a petite garden right alongside your house to bring beauty to your backyard. It’s a perfect spot to grow a surprising number of veggies, whether you choose to plant your garden at ground level or build a raised bed. To plant a vegetable garden that’s also aesthetically-pleasing, consider artichokes with their purple flowers, orange (and edible) nasturtiums and garlic punctuated with towering white blooms.

On a deck or patio that rims a home’s exterior wall, consider a vertical garden. There are plenty of vertical gardens you can buy online that look a lot like ladders or bookshelves and can house verdant plants and flowers, such as bromeliads, morning glories and petunias, to create a living wall. Or you can create a space-saving veggie garden with squash, tomatoes and beans. You can even build your own vertical garden with a reclaimed wood pallet or a handmade trellis.

Lastly, if your patio or deck is tiny or if you only have an apartment balcony, you can still achieve your dream garden with the help of containers. Tomatoes, zinnias, petunias, basil, strawberries, snapdragons—basically, the sky’s the limit when it comes to planting a garden in pots. Plus, there are so many adorable and stylish planters out there nowadays, a container garden will only lend to the aesthetics of your outdoor space.

As I write this, I’m looking out on my newly-beautified backyard, with its snowdrop anemones dotting my diminutive garden, the climbing hydrangea that’s latching onto the trellis and the ferns that are starting to green up with summer temperatures. Although we may not be able to travel to beloved locales right now, I’m comforted and delighted with my many small gardens throughout my sanctuary.