Pink and Purple Petunias in window baskets overflowing onto the balcony

Balcony Gardening: Creating Beautiful Garden Spaces on the Patio

Balcony gardening is the ideal solution for people with little or no ground level garden areas to be able to enjoy the beauty of an outdoor space. This may include growing flowers, small shrubs, dwarf trees, fruit trees, herbs or even vegetables.

Whether you live in a small home with an outdoor garden, an apartment, or in a high rise building you don’t have to miss out on the pleasure of growing your plants, you can still achieve this with balcony gardening. Balcony gardening is very flexible; if you don’t like the look of what you have created, the containers can be moved around to give a different garden design.

There are several things you need to consider when planning your balcony garden:

1. Space: Planning Your New Garden

To plan your new garden, sketch out a diagram of the area, adding in any permanent fixtures such as outdoor furniture. Take note of the type of sun exposure your balcony receives so that you can position the plants in the best possible light. Then position your pots where you will enjoy them the most, especially when you are inside looking out. This will help give your interior spaces a feeling of coming alive.

2. Climate Conditions: Sun, Shade and Wind

Take note of how much wind and sun the balcony receives and from which direction as this will affect your choice of plants. If the balcony is shaded, then there are still many plants that grow in shady conditions.

3. The Plants: Choose What You Love

One of the most important decisions is the type of plants you want to grow. Balcony gardening is suitable for growing flowers, vegetables or trees and you may like a combination of these. Also consider plant color, height, leaf shape and time of flowering as the balcony will usually be near the indoor living area and you will want it to look stunning.

4. The Containers: Make a Statement

A variety of different containers work well on the balcony. The primary consideration is that the container has adequate draining. Repurposing everyday objects is always a fun way to bring interest to your balcony garden. Upcycled tin cans, older cooking pans, plastic tubs or even an old sink might be an interesting focal point for your garden.

Be sure your balcony can support the weight of whichever item you decide to use and that it is either secured to the landing or heavy enough that is won’t blow away! A window box or a self-watering hanging basket can give a fantastic flowering display and can also be used for vegetables or herbs.

second story patio filled with a garden of potted trees and plants
This gentleman created a beautiful outdoor reading space with a series of terracotta planters and window boxes

5. Preparation: Potting Soil & Proper Drainage

Balcony gardening requires containers that are thoroughly clean. If they have been used before scrubbing them with a weak solution of bleach and a brush to remove any pests or diseases which may be clinging to the sides.

There must be adequate drainage holes; store-bought pots will typically have these. But if you use other containers, you can either drill several holes in the bottom of the item or spread a layer of small pebbles in the base. The holes are there for drainage, but you don’t want to lose the soil through them so you should cover them with a layer of broken terra cotta, gravel or a piece of gauze. Place the containers on bricks or pot feet to allow drainage and prevent rotting of containers.

A soil mix can then be added to the pots which should be light, well drained and moisture- retentive. Garden soil is not suitable for balcony gardening as it is too dense and may harbor insects and diseases. Add a slow release fertilizer when planting or use a water-soluble fertilizer every fortnight.

6. Watering Your Garden

Watering is a major consideration when thinking about balcony gardening especially if you are out at work all day. Your plants will need regular watering, maybe twice a day, especially if the weather is hot and windy. The roots of plants in pots dry out much more quickly than those in the ground.

The ideal situation to watering would be to install a tap on the balcony, but if this is not possible then you can use self-watering pots, like the Riviera Vision Planter, attach a coil hose to the nearest tap or make endless trips with a watering can! Plant saucers will be useful, or the excess water may drip down onto the balcony below.

So, however, small your outdoor area, you can still enjoy your flowers and vegetables with balcony gardening.