One of the things that apartment renters everywhere typically have to face is a lack of personal outdoor space. Many larger apartment communities will have large open common areas that may be set up with picnic tables, barbecue grills, or just grassy areas. If that common space isn't designated for a specific use, you may wonder whether or not you can appropriate that space for a garden.
What Are the Community Rules?
Some apartment communities have rules by which tenants must abide. If there are outdoor faucets from which hoses can be hooked up, the apartment community may have regulations regarding tenant use of those faucets.
When tenants are responsible for paying for their own water, there's a good chance that the landlord or property management company won't allow you to use the faucets because that would unfairly drive water bills up. If other tenants can't use those faucets to wash their cars, then you probably won't be allowed to use those faucets to water plants.
Look For Apartment Complexes That Advertise Garden Space for Tenants
Some large apartment communities that have large amounts of green space may opt to designate specific areas for tenant gardens. If this is the case, when they have apartments available to rent, they will make a point of advertising the fact that they have garden space for tenants. Communities that have tenant garden areas may have a source of water that tenants can use for their personal garden space.
In order to pay for the cost of creating the garden area, the added water cost and anything else that the community may offer for gardeners, you may be required to pay a modest fee to rent the space. Once you sign up for a space and pay for it, you will be assigned a space where you are free to plant your own garden.
Ask Your Landlord or Property Manager if You Can Use Some Common Space
If there are no clear rules as to what you can and cannot do in common areas, and there is no designated garden area for tenants, consider talking to your neighbors to find out whether they would be interested in going with you to talk to your landlord or property manager to discuss the possibility of having a community garden area. When you're trying to convince your property manager to allow you to do something, put your sales hat on and make the best sales pitch of your life.
Try to convince them that allowing you and others to use the common areas would make the community areas look more attractive and inviting, and if the complex has a lot of vacancies, the added landscape appeal may help to attract new tenants. Let the manager know that you'll assume responsibility for weeding the area and all of the other upkeep, and that you're willing to spring for the cost of flowers. Your willingness to buy the flowers and maintain the area may be enough to convince the property manager that this could be a win-win situation for the community and for you.
Having a garden space may not be convenient or realistic in all apartment communities. If the apartment complex is large enough, they may have a landscape service that mows the lawn and does that maintenance, or they may have an in-house crew that handles that as part of overall maintenance.
If you can't find other tenants who are willing to join you in turning common areas into attractive gardens, your landlord may not want the community to look unbalanced because there is one area that has a nice looking garden, but the rest of the common spaces aren't equally attractive.
Unless you are really serious about wanting to turn common spaces in an apartment community into a garden, and are willing to do something that will benefit the entire apartment complex and not just the area around your own apartment, then you should reconsider whether or not it is worth your while to talk to the property manager. Even if you aren't allowed to turn the common areas into a garden, there is nothing to say that you can't turn your own personal outdoor space into a garden by planting things in containers.