With a rapidly increasing population especially in urban areas, many people now live in high rise flats with no garden. Fear not! Just because you are limited to a balcony, doesn’t mean you can’t have your very own green outdoor space. We’ve put together some balcony gardening tips for those who love the outdoors but lack a large back garden.
Assessing Your Environment
Before you get started buying plants, have a think about what you want your balcony garden to look like and how you would like it to function. Here are some important questions to ask yourself:
- Is there an outdoor tap? If not, think about how many plants you’re happy to manage by using a watering can – how many trips can you make in and out your flat?
- How much weight can your balcony hold? This is very important due to safety. The weakest point of your balcony tends to be the centre, so it’s a good idea to keep heavier planters around the edges.
- How much sunlight and wind does your balcony get? It is important to work within the conditions you’re given as well as make the most of them. If it’s windy, create a windbreak. If it’s very sunny, bring in some shade. Choose plants that will suit the environment.
With balcony gardening, it is best to start small and build your way up, especially if you are new to gardening. If you start with too many plants it can get overwhelming, and of course the key to keeping any garden looking its best is regular love. Don’t bite off more than you can chew! Starting with a few smaller, easy to care for plants and adding a few decorative items will be a lot more manageable and you’ll be able to build your confidence and add more plants later on.
Keep It Contained
Obviously with only a balcony, you will be planting in containers. We have a full post on container gardening which you can check out here, but if you just want the fundamentals, we’ve summarised them for you below.
There are loads of different planters on the market and you are sure to find one to suit your individual style and needs. Be sure to pick one that is big enough to allow expansion of your plants’ roots. It is also important to ensure your plant has adequate drainage; you can do this by making sure your planter has a hole in the bottom and create a layer of large stones underneath the compost.
With the limiting amount of space that comes with balcony gardening, it is a good idea to consider vertical planters. These will help you make the most out of the space you have. A variety of vertical planters are available, from wall planters you can fix on the outside of your flat or railings, to shelving with multiple levels for you to place plant pots.
For more on plant pots, check out our complete guide to plant pot sizes.
Just because you are limited to planting in containers with balcony gardening, doesn’t mean you won’t be able to grow a diverse range of colourful and attractive plants. Depending on your colour scheme and how much time you want to put into your balcony garden, there are a number of plants that will flourish in containers.
- Annuals such as petunia, sweet peas and pansies
- Perennials such as lavender, lilies and magnolias
Make It Beautiful
Your small space shouldn’t limit you in terms of garden design. Have a think about what colour scheme and materials you want in your balcony garden. It is best to stick to three colours, including green to ensure your space doesn’t seem to busy and is relaxing on the eyes.
As mentioned previously, when thinking about what materials to use be sure to consider the weight of your planters. Although materials such as concrete have started to find their place in the garden design world, it may not be suitable for balconies due to its heavy weight. Even the traditional terracotta is considered quite a heavy material. It is better to stick to lightweight materials such as wood, fibreglass and even recycled rubber.
Of course your balcony garden does not have to be limited to just plants in containers. You can decorate with other items, such as outdoor rugs, solar lights and other decorative features such as garden clocks.
We hope this post has enthused you about starting your very own balcony garden!
Megan works in the Primrose marketing team. When she is not at her desk you will find her half way up a hill in the Chilterns
or enjoying the latest thriller series on Netflix. Megan also enjoys cooking vegetarian feasts with veggies from her auntie’s vegetable garden.