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Do you aspire to have a beautiful narrowboat garden? Looking up to the likes of
Tom Stuart-Smith and Alan Titchmarsh? Incorporating an idyllic garden upon
your narrowboat can be difficult and even more difficult to know where to start.
However, it doesn’t have to be. With a variation of grow bags and containers it
makes it simple to transform your exterior boating garden. Find out the best tips
below to create your botanical space.

Why not utilise your roof deck area?

Connecting with nature has so many benefits, even whilst living aboard your boat,
you can never have enough. Whether your vessel is large or small, there should be
enough space for gardening. The roof deck is the perfect spot to utilise containers
and enhance the look of the boat with colourful flowers and luscious green leaves.
Although, the roof deck is exposed to many external elements, such as animals
and downfalls of rain and wind. So keep this in mind when selecting greenery,
plants that can handle strong weather conditions are best and don’t forget to
water them on a regular basis to balance the drying effect from the wind. Often
during rainfalls, the water can simply bounce off leaves, leaving the soil dry and
still in need of a good water. The growth of flowers and plants can be stunted if
they’re not maintained correctly.

Grow Bags

Have you ever heard of grow bags? No? Well now you have! Grow bags are perfect
for rooftop gardening and can be easily found in a range of large supermarkets
and garden centres. They are full of compost and nutrients to help successfully
grow a range of plants.

Don’t forget to buy a tray that is purposely made for grow bags to perch on, then
sit this on some wood so that air can flow underneath.

With grow bags, it’s important to remember that monitoring growth is key, this
will need to be done regularly. The compost should also have a fertiliser that
releases slowly and feeds your plants on a regular basis throughout each season,
helping to prevent drying of the leaves.

What plants to grow

The type of plants grown on a narrowboat will be up to personal preference,
however there are a few things to consider. For example, some flowers are
seasonal, meaning they will only bloom at particular times throughout the year,
such as Spring or Autumn.

For a blooming lovely garden all year round, having plants that last throughout all
seasons is a great idea. Evergreen plants have beautiful green leaves that remain
throughout all seasons, with flowers that bloom at particular times, adding
brightness to your garden. Geraniums also add a pop of colour, whilst keeping the
flies away.

Please note, it’s really important to make sure that the area you’re planting in is
protected from water accumulation, this will avoid any water from becoming
trapped and rotting the deck.

One other thing that has risen in popularity over recent years is narrowboat
owners growing their own fruits and vegetables on their roof deck. A range of
produce can survive in these conditions, such as potatoes, strawberries and
carrots. Perfect for having fresh produce easily on the go. Don’t forget to use fresh
clean water when watering your crops and not canal water, as this could
contaminate them and make people ill.

Whether you decide to grow plants or fruits and veg, don’t go overboard…
growing too much and overloading can cause damage to the decking.
Bear in mind, most insurers don’t cover theft of contents left in the open, so keep
this in mind when determining what you’re going to keep on the exterior of your

What about your narrowboat interior?

If the roof deck isn’t enough, why not bring more plants indoors and utilise the
space inside your vessel. This will help to brighten up the interior design of your
water home.

Colourful plants and flowers make a great addition to any living space, bedroom
or kitchen and there will be no worry about protecting them from wind or rain.
Create a seamless design throughout your boat, by bringing the outside in to
create a beautiful natural haven.

Before starting, you should consider…

It’s so easy to get carried away with the new found excitement and pride of
growing your own plants and crops. However, there are a few practicalities to
consider for a new flourishing garden.

Crucial things to consider are:
● Ensure your pots are secure- tie your containers in place and use mats
with grip to make sure your new precious projects do not tumble into the
● Height – although it may be easy to get carried away in buying large
wonderful looking plants, remember there will be a height limit in this for
boats travelling through tunnels and under bridges.
● Ropes – practice caution when moving around plants so that ropes don’t
get damaged and rip causing plants to go overboard.
● Look after paintwork – one drawback of starting a narrowboat garden is
that it can damage paintwork. Using specified gardening grow bags and
tubs can help to prevent ruining paintwork.
● Plant and container weight – don’t overload! Adding too much to your
vessel can cause havoc on the steering and puts it at risk of overturning.

Most insurers don’t cover theft of contents left in the open, so keep this in
mind when determining your narrowboat garden budget.

Keep your beautiful-looking narrowboat protected with GJW Direct’s
Narrowboat Insurance Policy.*

*Please note, theft cover of contents left in the open is not included