People who live in apartment complexes with no access to a backyard appreciate their balconies as a place to relax and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. And naturally, they also like to grow some kind of greenery on the balcony – it seems to be an inbuilt need for most people to have something to do with living plants and earth. Many balconies are ideal for growing plants on. Even those that don’t get much sun can be used to grow shade-loving plants.
However, a balcony is a tiny place and care must be taken when creating a garden with pot plants, otherwise it will risk looking crowded or piecemeal instead of attractive. In fact, it is easy to overcrowd such a small space and then you don’t feel comfortable sitting there – if you can even fit your easy chair in.
Here are some ideas to help you with your balcony garden design.
- Use lightweight pots. Not only will it be easier to move them around, it will reduce the overall weight on the balcony. It’s a good idea to check what weight the balcony can bear as pots filled with moist potting mix and plants can be heavier than you may think.
- When using large pots, keep them to the back if you have children. Otherwise they may use them to step up and look over the edge of the rail or fence. This is not safe.
- Use good quality potting mix that contains water-holding granules. A balcony is up amongst the breezes and some have sun on them for a greater part of the day. This will dry out the pots quickly.
- Choose plants that are hardy; delicate plants will very likely suffer from wind damage.
- Know where you want to have your balcony furniture and work the garden around this area.
- Choose mainly evergreens as they will provide greenery all year round. With a limited number of plants you don’t want even one or two to spend months with just a bare stem poking up.
- If using annuals for colour replace them quickly so you will always have colour rather than tatty plants.
- Because you have only a small space, keeping to about 3 colours is best – not counting green, of course. This will give a more cohesive look overall. Multiple colours will make a small space look too busy. Pots on the balcony should all be the same colour. That said, if you bring the garden indoors by having a few pots inside the door, these can be a different colour.
- White pebbles on the top of the pots provide a contrast to the colours in the plants.
- Larger pots are better than small ones as they give roots more room to spread. However, they are the heaviest, so keeping them to the sides where the floor is strongest is a good idea.
Many people like to grow something to eat on their balcony garden. Herbs are good options as many are quite suited to container growing. Cherry tomatoes are another plant that should grow well on the balcony, so long as they get plenty of sun. Spinach and lettuce are other options for pots on the balcony.