Small but perfectly formed: your guide to a beautiful balcony
A big garden with endless lawns or a wrap around veranda packed with picturesque furniture may be the enviable luxuries of a gardener’s daydreams. But, having been an apartment-dweller for most of my life, I’ve become a convert to the charms of small gardens, of creating a tiny urban oasis that offers sanctuary and delight and comfort. And there is something particularly special about a balcony garden. A balcony inhabits a unique space – they can be very much part of the street they are elevated above but at the same time are more like an extension of a room than a designated outdoor space. I like how intimate they can be while still allowing one to be part of the life of the street - leaning over the railing to chat to a neighbour, tossing a set of keys down to a friend, watching revelers make their way into the evening. While an enclosed or screened balcony can be a beautiful hideaway (or sometimes just plain necessary depending on the location and the quality of the neighbours!), my favourite balcony gardens have been the ones that allow me to enjoy my neighbourhood and that contribute to the beauty of the streetscape by adding colour and life to a building.
The practicalities of creating a sustainable balcony garden can present some challenges and will depend primarily on the size, aspect and conditions of the balcony. After a browse through Pinterest it is tempting just to go crazy and start loading up your space with all manner of blossoms and vines and hanging plants and tables and lounges.
But steady on! There are a few important things to consider before you start going all Home Beautiful. They are much the same questions as you would apply to any garden with a few that are very that are specific to the balcony space:
- How much light does it get and at what points during the day? Will any plants be mostly in the shade?
- Is it windy? If you’re planning on hanging pots then this is a good one to consider!
- Is it sturdy? Get its load baring capacity checked before you start piling on giant concrete pots. (Check out our new range of lightweight pots!)
- What’s the drainage like? Do you want year-round greenery and season blossoms or are you happy for it to go bare over winter?
- And, very importantly, what do you want to use it for? Is it a place to grow a few herbs or is it somewhere for you to spend time relaxing and entertaining?
With these considerations in mind, here are our tips for creating a beautiful balcony garden:
- Make it an extension of the room – it can really open up the home and create a lovely flow of space. I love to use a gorgeous outdoor mat or rug that complements the interior space. Go here for one of our current store favourites.
- A stylishly simple row of planters or pots with uniform planting can look particularly striking on a large balcony but for a smaller space I prefer to introduce a range of heights and sizes to the plants to give a more textured, garden-y feel.
- Utilise space creatively – this might mean creating a vertical garden on one wall or using hanging plants if floor space is very limited.
- If you plan on taking your morning coffee with the papers or an evening glass of wine with friends on your balcony then durable, stylish and comfortable seating is a must! Ditch the milk crates and go for pieces that will not just withstand the elements but help to create a really beautiful and inviting sanctuary.
Images 1 to 3 Terrace Outdoor Living, image 4 via Design Rulz, image 5 via House of Home, image via 6 Architecture Designs , image 7 via Woo Home image 8 via Harrisons Landscaping & the rest Terrace Outdoor Living.
- Paul Hopper