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How To Create A Memorial Garden For Any Size Space

Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions are those of the author. If you are in need of grief counseling or are suffering from depression please seek the help of a certified practitioner. 

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Keeping Memories In A Living Landscape

Memorial gardens are a wonderful way to remember a loved one who has passed a way. They can be as simple or as elaborate as desired.

As it is Memorial Day Weekend, and continuing the theme of last weeks post, let’s discuss how to make a memorial garden. 

Size Doesn’t Matter

garden picture

Memorial gardens don’t have to be these large luxury landscapes. You have to take into consideration your time to maintain the garden and the space available. 

I’ll also give you garden ideas for those that possess more of a brown than green thumb. And don’t feel bad if you’re in this category, I tend to lean to the more brown thumb side of the gardening spectrum. 

But that’s the beauty of a memorial garden. It is a blend of your personality and the personality of the one you are remembering. 

To incorporate as many ideas as possible 

I’ve broken up this post up into three categories: House Life, Apartment/Condo Life, Van/Tiny House Life 

House Life Gardens

garden elements on a rock path

The beauty of house life is the yard.

 Now granted you may have a small yard, a large yard, or something in between. No matter the size of your yard you can still create a great memorial garden space. 

Planning the space

Planning the space has more to do with your gardening abilities than the size of your garden.

If gardening is your passion and you are able to maintain it year round then here are some things to consider. 

  • Seasons. Plan your garden around the seasons and what grows best in your area. This link here has lovely ideas for a wide variety of plants to consider year round. This includes the winter. Yes there are still winter plants so your garden can continue to look alive and vibrant. 
  • Knowing your gardening zone is important as this will dictate the precise plants that are likely to do well in your region. 
  • Ground coverage plants are easier to maintain than grass and stepping stones can provide both a path through your garden and a way to personalize it with the name or favorite things of your loved one. 

Decorative stones, such river rocks or semi precious stones can add texture and color to your garden. 

If you plan on sitting in your garden then you need to decide on the type of seating arrangement you would prefer. Do you want a pillow on the ground, a swing, or a simple bench? Whatever you choose, keep your comfort in mind as well as the esthetics of the area you’re trying to create. 

If all you want to do is plant a single tree then that’s perfect. Again the purpose is not to overwhelm your abilities but to provide a place of healing and remembrance: 

Apartment Gardens

apartment garden

Regardless of the size of your apartment chances are you don’t have a yard that you are able to convert into a garden. 

So let’s consider the outdoor and indoor space available. 

Most apartments, at least in my area, have a porch or veranda. These do vary in size so you’ll have to work within the available space. 

Pot Garden

pot garden on window ledge

No, I’m not advocating growing weed. 

A pot garden is a garden grown exclusively in planter pots. You can choose one large pot and place all your plants and stones in it creating a private isolated space, or you can do several small pots.

The size of the pot is not as important as the plant’s you choose. If your garden must remain outside then like the house garden plant choice is vital, and you may need to pull up and replant your garden a few times a year to maintain the look you are going for. 

If you are planting a tree or bush in your pot garden then you’ll need to think of how to best insulate it during the colder months. Plants get colder in pots than when planted in the ground, so proper insulation is very important. 

If you are able to bring your pots inside your apartment during the winter months then this isn’t necessary 

Pallet Gardens

pallet turned into a vertical garden

Often made from used shipping pallets, these types of gardens allow you to plant vertically. This is great for small spaces as it allows you to maintain the same amount of seating area and makes use of space that is often wasted. 

Typically with vertical gardens you will still have your plants in small pots to fit in the space but you are able to paint  and decorate the pallet itself to add a depth to your garden scape.

Things to consider: 

  • While many apartment or condo complexes allow urban gardening some do not, so you’ll need to be aware of the rules of your area. However this may only apply to growing food plants and not decorative gardens. 
  • Depending on your porch location, (i.e. height and side of the building) you may need to take into consideration storms and winds. I live in a third floor apartment and we can get gusts up to sixty miles an hour in a storm. This will destroy any permanent outside garden. So having a shelter or a mobile garden may be best if this is your situation. 

Van/Tiny House Life

pot in macrame sling

To my Tiny house life peeps. Tiny houses have a special place in my heart. Not that I’ve ever lived in one but I so want a van or bus. 

So I’ve considered the many aspects of tiny living, or life on the move. This offers some complications with gardening. If you are parked in a semi permanent space then the house life or apartment life sections will work for you but if you are constantly on the move we need to look at some mobile options. 

Hanging pots and vertical gardens

Yes you can still do a vertical garden in a van or bus or mobile tiny house. Though it may be smaller than your apartment life, friends and family. Vertical space continues to be one of those underutilized areas of almost any home. Though Tiny house people tend to use all their space very well.  

Macrame slings to hold a decorative pot can add a touch of design as well as providing a space for your memorial garden. It also protects it as you are driving as it will be allowed to sway with the movement of the vehicle. 

Another option are vertical pots or pot holders that can be affixed to a wall that will provide your garden with versatility in your space as well as protect it when in transit. 

Other ideas

A rock garden: This can be done on any scale. Outside or in a fishbowl or decorative vase. You can include plants such as air plants that require minimal maintenance. These allow you to decorate with a wide variety of semi-precious stones. 

A fairy garden: You can create the perfect garden on a smaller scale. You can use your outdoor space, or any size pot. Small furniture and other decorative items allow you to meditate on the space and picture yourself there, remembering your loved one.

A terrarium: This self contained garden is the perfect option for someone who doesn’t have time or desire to learn how to maintain a garden. You can make them large or small. It’s perfectly mobile and will last a very long time when properly done.

 

It’s About Life

woman smelling flowers

Memorial gardens are meant to provide a space for memories and for healing. It’s never easy to lose someone we love. The grief will never fully go away, but we can find joy in the memories that we have.

Memorial gardens allow us a place to meditate and to find peace. They aren’t magic wands that can erase all of the pain we feel at the loss of our loved one. But it can give our grief a focus and purpose. If you’re like me, you need something to do, something you can control. And a small garden is a perfect outlet for those feelings. 

If this memorial day you are focused on the loss of someone in your life, whether recent or long ago, I hope and pray you find the healing and peace that you are seeking. And I hope that the remembrance of your loved one brings a smile to your face, even if you still have tears in your eyes. 

 
Resources
Memorial Garden
memorial garden ideas
Apartment Gardens
Patio Garden
Pallet Garden
Rock Garden
Container Rock Garden
Fairy Garden
How to make a terrarium
Air Plants

About Author

Jenn Gaskin

After more than a decade in education I decided to turn my copious skills to writing. I have been freelance writing for Dancing Tree Gifts (formerly Sonora Kay Creations) since 2019. I wear many hats with DTG primarily copy editor, author, and web design.