A Renter’s Guide To Growing A Vegetable Garden

With people spending more time at home lately thanks to COVID-19, vegetable gardening is growing in popularity.

It’s a therapeutic outdoor activity that anyone can do, and harvesting food you’ve grown yourself might just be one of the most satisfying things ever (not to mention delicious).

If you’re a tenant, you might be unsure about whether you can start a veggie garden in your rented property. Or if it’s even worth investing in a vegetable patch that you’ll eventually have to leave. A lease does present some challenges but it doesn’t need to get in the way of your green thumb. Here’s what you need to know about gardening in a rental property.

Can you grow a vegetable garden in a rental?

Yes, but generally you will need your landlord’s permission. According to the WA state government tenant’s guide, renters are responsible for general garden maintenance such as mowing and weeding. At the end of a lease, the garden should be returned in a similar condition to when you moved in – just like the home itself. If you’re planning to dig into the soil or install a garden bed, you’re altering the property, which requires prior approval. The landlord may be okay with it — you are adding value to the garden, after all — but you should first get their permission in writing and be very clear about the changes you’re going to make. Make sure you discuss what will happen at the end of the lease: will you need to return the garden to its original state, or can you leave the garden bed and any infrastructure you’ve installed? Bear in mind that the landlord is within their rights to say no. And if they do agree, you will have to be happy leaving behind your hard-earned veggie patch at the end of the lease.

The simplest solution is a container garden.

If you grow your veggies in free-standing garden beds or pots, you won’t be altering the property and therefore don’t need permission to start growing. A container garden has the added benefit of being portable, so you can take your plants with you when you leave. What you do have to be careful of is leaving marks on whatever surface your containers are sitting on. To prevent marking, move the containers intermittently or place them on tiles or a tarp. If a surface is already marked, you may not need to bother with these protective measures, but take a photograph of the marks beforehand and make sure it’s noted in your inspection report.

What kind of containers are best?

Plants will grow in pretty much anything but lighter containers will be easier to move when your lease is up, so steer away from heavy materials like terracotta and ceramic. If you’re prioritising cost you may want to upcycle an old wheelbarrow or some apple crates, buy cheap plastic pots, build a raised planter out of wood, or ask a supermarket or greengrocer if they’ll give you some used polystyrene boxes. If you’re not too worried about the cost, you can buy a raised planter from a gardening or hardware store, or the more high-tech Vegepods which are self-watering and covered to protect from pests. Whatever container you decide on, make sure it has adequate drainage and fill it with the best potting mix you can afford.

Got a small space? Go vertical.

If your outdoor space is limited, like a balcony, you can use a stake, trellis or fence to grow vines and climbing plants. A vertical garden has the added benefit of providing lots of lovely visible greenery, and can even be used as a privacy screen. Depending on how much space you have, you could try growing beans, peas, tomatoes, cucumbers, squashes and even melons. Some climbing plants will snake up by themselves, others will need to be secured to the supports.

Choosing what to grow

For renters, quick-growing vegetables make the most sense so you can get maximum production over the length of your lease. Herbs and leafy greens such as spinach, bok choy and lettuce can start to be harvested in 6-8 weeks. Other quick growing veggies include baby carrots, baby beets, radishes, spring onions and cherry tomatoes. Other considerations for what to plant include what you actually eat, how much space and sunlight the plant needs, and how often it can be harvested. If you’re in a rental for multiple years, make sure you rotate your crops to keep your soil healthy.

And, finally

Enjoy your gardening.

If you’re looking to rent in Perth, contact our team of property managers today.

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