Sustainable small garden ideas for a self-sufficient space

These sustainable small garden ideas will help you transform your small garden or balcony into a self-sufficient space

A pale blue potting table with small terracotta potted plants showing sustainable small garden ideas.
(Image credit: Annaick Guitteny)

These sustainable small garden ideas will inspire you to use your compact patio or balcony for so much more than sunbathing and barbecuing.

To help make the most of a passion for gardening no matter your garden's square footage, Uswitch have put together some small garden ideas and tips for transforming your tiny space into a self-sufficient haven... 

Sustainable small garden ideas


Any organic waste you produce, such as fruit and veg scraps and garden greens, can be digested by tiger worms in a container, turning them into valuable compost. 

Worms can eat up to half of their own body weight each day, and their population increases rapidly under the right conditions, so emptying your bin regularly should become a thing of the past. Don’t worry, it doesn’t smell.

Sustainable ideas for small gardens illustrated by wooden planters on a city rooftop balcony.

(Image credit: Annaick Guitteny)


Whether you are looking for courtyard garden ideas or are lucky enough to have some lawn space, water butts are one of the simplest sustainable small garden ideas, as they reduce reliance on grid services. 

The back-to-basics approach of collecting rainwater is as old as humanity itself, and it’s surprising that not more of us have this as a facility, especially during the summer when hosepipe bans are rife. The lack of chlorine makes it ideal for watering plants - but not safe for us to drink ourselves.

Water plants using rainwater from a water butt, an example of sustainable small garden ideas.

(Image credit: Shutterstock)


You don’t need a massive turbine in the garden to prove you’re an eco-warrior. An innovative design is expected to enable city dwellers the ability to harness the wind from their balconies. 

The winner of the 2018 Dyson Award, O-Wind is a small product that claims to make the most of multi-directional winds, making it an ideal roof garden idea or one for those in high-rises who need balcony garden ideas instead. Alternatively, you can purchase simple building-mounted turbines for a fraction of the cost of pole-mounted ones.


No grass? No problem! Food can be grown in all sorts of containers to create a small vegetable garden – from raised beds, to crate pallets, hanging baskets, and plastic poly tunnels. 

In many ways these planters are better than a garden, as you're able to choose the quality of your soil and benefit from better drainage. Lettuces, tomatoes, and cucumbers are some of the simplest items to grow, where you’ll see the fruits of your labour within a few weeks, encouraging you to keep up the good work.

Sustainable small garden ideas illustrated by raised vegetable beds with freshly picked crops in a basket.


Adding birdhouses to your garden will provide a refuge for wildlife in any environment.

Especially in cities, where a lack of natural habitat in cities leaves many birds without areas to nest and lay eggs, providing this small space for them helps to protect their species. They’ll return the favour by keeping pests at bay, a necessity when growing your own food.

A faded blue birdbox attached to a tree trunk.

Taking these small steps to improve your outdoor space are a great way to start leading a more organic lifestyle. 

Even those in the city can reap the benefits of being more self-sufficient and put some sustainable small garden ideas into action. And with the mental health and well being benefits of gardening clear, there’s never been a better time to get started.

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. 

Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.