As with anything that’s been around for a while, balcony gardening is been perfected. So you won’t have to worry about a lack of guidance, tips, or “Eureka!” moments. Just for you, we’ve gathered them all here so that you can get your mini garden started on the right foot.
The Curious Origins of Balcony Gardens
When we picture gardening, it’s easy to think it’s been that way forever. Pots, troughs, and stand-alone plants. The truth: potted houseplants only became mainstream in the 1920s.
Interestingly, this is around the same time buildings were shooting upwards. Even more interesting still is that the two trends effortlessly intertwined. The new sky-high buildings came with balconies, and they needed decorating.
What better way to perfect these mini outdoor spaces than to make them into mini gardens? And so that’s exactly what people did. Plants overflowed from balconies and grew up apartment walls. In the Hollywood golden era classic ‘Seven Year Itch,’ a plant falling from an above balcony is the spark behind Marilyn Monroe’s and Tom Ewell’s onscreen fire.
So if you’re planning on becoming a balcony gardener, you’re in good company – you’ve got history on your side.
Guide to balcony gardening
Well done on making the fantastic idea of starting a balcony garden! Not only does it look fantastic and do wonders for the environment, but studies have also shown that living alongside plants is fantastic for mental wellbeing and overall quality of life!
When to start your balcony garden
In short: April, May, June. Or, If you’re growing houseplants, give them a summer holiday on your balcony. Once you’re sure of the time frame, here’s your next balcony gardening steps:
Plan or sketch
You may think you know your small space garden, balcony, or terrace, but do you really? Much like building a house, you’ll need to know where everything belongs. As well, and more importantly, you’ll need to know if you have enough space for your grand plans. A quick sketch is enough to give you an account of the opportunities you have in your area.
Watch your budget
Pots, plants, and maintenance can be deceptively costly. Once you have your balcony garden plan outlined, determine its average overall price. Do this by researching online or taking a trip to your local DIY or garden center.
Note: if you live alone, consider allocating a close friend or family member to take care of the plants while you’re away – this will save you the cataclysmic price of absolute disaster.
Know Your Style
You may have already figured this out during the planning step, but if not – now’s the time. Small space gardens come in a variety of flavors. Do you prefer minimalistic, ultra-green, or multi-colored flowery chic styles?
It’s best to know your theme before getting started to prevent you from running into stylistic chaos.
Check The Rules
If you’re gardening on your own property, fantastic – full steam ahead. However, if you happen to rent or live in an apartment block, there may be some restrictions in place based on what you can do with your space. So be sure to check what the rules are in advance!
Weight it up
All balconies have a weight limit. Terra cotta, ceramic pots, wet soil, and compost are heavy. Instead, you might prefer to use lightweight rice pots, plastic, fiberglass, resin containers, or fabric grow bags combined with light soil mixes.
Troughs are generally the best options are they are long & narrow, so they will take up less space but offer the most growing area.
Watch out Down Below
Do you have lower-floor neighbors? Is their balcony directly under yours? If so, be mindful of how your gardening practices may affect their peace. Check for spaces on your balcony’s floor; think of all the watering water that may drip down from above.
How do you Want to Use Your Balcony space?
A fact of gardening is that the conditions of your available space determines what plants/flower it can host.
A quick overview:
- South or East facing balconies = sunny.
- North or West facing balconies = shaded.
- Windy/not windy balconies also have to be considered.
Anyhow, sunny balconies can generally host a wider variety of plants, primarily flowering plants; whole shaded terraces favor more hardy plants, such as produce or herbs.
Some more delicate plants are also susceptible to noise pollution and wind. Garden screening panels or artificial hedging can help to reduce these damaging effects.
Maximizing Your Space
Strategies for making the most of your small garden space:
- Grow Vertically.
- Grow Dwarf or Compact Varieties.
- Get Rid Of The Clutter.
- Add Hanging Plants.
- Small Scale Accessories.
Tip: use 60% vertical space and 40% horizontal space for maximum space and aesthetic appeal.
Get to Know Your New House Guests
One of the most enjoyable aspects of balcony gardening also happens to be the toughest – picking the right contenders. Here are a few popular balcony plants to consider:
Of these, lavender easily has the most pleasing-on-the-eye flowers. This aromatic plant has hundreds of varieties, blooming in various gorgeous shades of purple or white so that you can enjoy a variety of colors and scents on your balcony.
It’s always handy to have some extra ingredients just steps from your kitchen.
Perfect for those evenings when you just want to relax and unwind on your carefully-curated balcony.
These are the “lookers” of the bunch. The balcony guests that make real-life guests go, “wow!”
Some plants are more “en vogue” than others. Here they are in all their fashionable glory.
These are the ones you’ve seen before – the reliables. They just need a little maintenance and are absolutely perfect for unsure rookies.
Which Ones are Right for Your Balcony?
Plants for shady balconies
Plants for sunny balconies
Herbs, produce, and flowering plants are yours to pick from. In fact, the majority of colorful balcony inhabitants enjoy the sunlight.
Plants for windy balconies
Other tips for balcony gardening
Get Your Soil Right
Become a watering pro
The difference between a lackluster and illustrious balcony is water. Perfecting your perfected balcony garden is really as simple as knowing when and when not to water.
Using the smaller spaces of your home to garden is a fantastic way to add a splash of color and life to your décor. The above steps are perfect for getting you started on the road to becoming a balcony gardening pro – so what are you waiting for? That space won’t beautify itself! Make the most of your space and get started today.