Balcony gardens are nothing new; they’re great for gents without traditional yards to tinker in and they add a touch of serenity to metropolitan pads.
Even those with shoebox sized balconies can to bring a bit of green into their lives. So, how exactly does one create a manscaped balcony garden?
You can still have it all in a balcony garden, albeit on a smaller scale. Think water features, quaint benches and lush greenery.
Whether you’re looking to get away from your better half, retreat into a book or simply get a dose of Vitamin D, a lush outdoor balcony will quickly become your new fave spot. No backyard? No worries. If your green thumb is itching but you have no lawn to speak of, there is still hope.
Check out our guide to creating a balcony garden that would make your mamma proud. And unlike big backyard gardens that become more of a chore than a joy, small outdoor gardens will give you just the right amount of greenery in an intimate and manageable way.
Why Do It?
One major advantage to balcony gardens is that you don’t have to worry about grass and lawnmowers. AstroTurf is popular among hipsters and interior design circles, so consider this flooring option and throw in a decorative flamingo or two for good measure.
Consider The Climate
There are few things more disheartening than a dead plant. Save yourself the heartache (and the wasted dosh) and buy plants suited to your locale. Speak to the sales assistant at Bunnings or your local nursery staff for expert advice.
A balcony that gets full afternoon sun will require different plants to ones in full shade, or one that get a lot of wind, so you may need to experiment with both indoor and outdoor plants to get the right mix for your balcony’s ‘microclimate’.
If you’re dealing with pockets of full sun, go wild with grasses, herbs, morning glory (the vine, not the other thing) and succulents. Save ferns, lilies, begonias and English Ivy for shady nooks.
Perennials vs Annuals
The battle between perennials and annuals has been raging since Adam and Eve debated their merits in the Garden of Eden. Not really, but the truth is, a mix of both varieties will be needed to ensure your garden remains lush at all times.
Even perennials that remain dormant most of the year provide interesting greenery and blooms of colour in spring. Also, perennials tend to be larger, so they add dimension and visual interest to your garden. Whichever plants you choose, group them together so they receive the same amount of light and moisture, but play around with heights.
For a functional balcony garden, go the citrus route and plant some lemons or oranges in a sunny spot.
Become A Pot Expert
Skimping on pots is a big ’no no’. There are plenty of cheap and nasty options out there (we’re looking at you, plastic!), but pots made out of a porous material like terra cotta will offer better drainage than inferior varieties. Never, EVER, use containers without drainage holes. Your plants will be more susceptible to root rot. Maybe you’re using some old pottery, in which case you’ll need to whip out the drill and bore a few holes in the bottom.
Soil For The Soul
It’s tempting to buy inexpensive all-purpose soil that promises to work in all conditions. Don’t do it. You’ll be out of pocket in the long run after your plants flounder in sub-par soil.
Use soil specifically suited to the type of plant you’re growing. It’s okay to mix in some all-purpose soil to make to good stuff stretch further, but make sure the ratio is skewed in the good latter’s favour. Sprinkle mulch on top of soil to ensure moisture retention.
Most balconies will afford room for at least one chair, and if you’re lucky, a table and chair set might even fit, making the space more useable and visitor-friendly.
If you have a large, wrap-around type balcony, go the full Monty with a hammock and outdoor cushions.
Meanwhile, a wood ladder, bookshelf or old fashioned bar cart on wheels will become eye-catching planters.
Sandstone, timber accents and other natural focal points will boost your gardens lush vibe. A hardwood bench is a good starting point, and will lessen that concrete jungle feeling most inner-city balconies have. Scrap wood (untreated is best), positioned right, can also work to transform a ‘pretty’ garden into a masculine oasis.
Add pops of colour with bright cushions, bold patterned pots and decorative twine hangers, and use wooden crates or old tyres for rustic raised bed/seating hybrids
The balcony garden doubles as a romance hot spot after dark. Scatter a generous amount of candle lanterns and a smattering of fairy lights for seduction success.
Incorporate elements matching your interiors for a seamless transition from indoor to outdoor. Al fresco living never looked so good.
Don’t forget the h2O. Follow the plant’s watering guidelines, but remember that high wind areas will demand extra water – once a day in summer to be safe. Plus, terra cotta pots need a drink more often than their plastic and fibreglass counterparts.
Finally, look up. Limited square footage means that every available inch should be utilised. Hanging pots (or garden boxes) and vertical gardens are all on the menu.