Apartment rentals have numerous advantages over purchasing a single-family home or condo, but this can be a frustrating predicament for avid gardeners. What do you do when there is no land to till or nurture? Having little indoor plants just isn’t the same as caring for sprawling outdoor plants.
Does your apartment have a balcony? Maybe a small shed for gardening storage? If so, then you’re in luck! The balcony garden is the perfect solution to urban gardening. Not only do you get to keep your gardening shears sharpened, but you also get a lovely outdoor seating space as well. But there are a few things to keep in mind when creating your perfect balcony garden. Most of these tips can also be applied to any rooftop space you may have reign of.
First and foremost, check with your building or landlord to find out the exact rules about balcony gardening. It’s always important to get authorization for certain things that involve any sort construction or potential modifications to the home.
There are a number of modifications that may be required in order to make the perfect balcony garden, depending on what your exact plans are. If you need to mount anything to balcony railing or building exterior, you’re definitely going to need permission for that.
No one wants to have that heart breaking moment where they throw their energy into creating a fabulous garden, only to be busted by the building police or disapproving landlord. Always remember that no matter how lovely a balcony garden may be, it’s never worth losing your security deposit over.
Survey Your Planting Space
Before you begin thinking about all the fun stuff – the format of your balcony garden, the kinds of plants you want, what matching furniture you could buy – you need to take care of a few more logistics first.
Next, the types of plants you get will be largely determined by the balcony itself. Can you easily access a water source? Is the balcony in direct sunlight or covered? What is the average temperature of your balcony throughout the seasons? Do you even have traditional “seasons” in your area? The answers to these questions will be your first guide for creating the perfect balcony garden.
Though you may have your eye on some particular plants or herbs that you want to cultivate in your garden, it’s important to realize that not all plants are created equal when it comes to balcony growing. Your list of plants to choose from will depend on what kind of plants can flourish in your specific balcony’s environment.
Of course, there are still quite a few popular plants used for balcony growing in temperate climates. There are quite a few reasons for this depending on the specific plant, but for the most part, popular balcony plants are relatively low maintenance and flourish in shadier environments.
Here’s a list of great balcony plants to start you off in the right direction:
- English Ivy
- Peace Lily
- Spider Plants
- Bleeding Hearts
- Many species of Ferns
Of course, your balcony garden is certainly not limited to these plants. In hotter climates, gardeners find that cacti are the easiest to grow and maintain. Hey, you might even consider an edible flower garden, too!
In addition, herbs are quite valuable to have for any fresh cooking. Many of the basic kitchen herbs – such as basil, rosemary, and – are quite easy to grow in a small balcony environment.
Hanging plants are practically made for urban gardening. Not only are they beautiful, but they’re also great for getting the most amount of plants in a small space. Cascading flowers – such as Impatiens and Petunias – can add a real Pop! to a garden, but there are many other options as well. You can even cultivate large ferns if you’re going for a greener look. You basically can’t go wrong when it comes to hanging plants and balcony gardens.
Again, before you go out and buy any of the plants named here, be sure to check whether they’re well-suited to your growing space.
While clay pots have a classic appeal to them, it’s important to remember that there is a world beyond plain ol’ clay pots.
Raid your local thrift stores, yard sales, and flea markets for some unusual plant containers. Most plants require enough room for their roots to spread, as well as a place for the water to leak out of the bottom of the container. There are some exceptions to this rule, of course.
If you’re not feeling too adventurous, you can still stick with what you know and just brighten them up a bit. Buy a few cheap paints from your local craft store and give them a quick paint job. Design as you see fit. Have fun with it!
Beyond pots themselves, there are many other great options when it comes to plant containers. If allowed, mount some flower boxes or even some gutters to the side of your balcony for impromptu planters. If you want to take advantage of your balcony’s vertical space, up cycle an old pallet into a mini garden. The options are endless and creative containers can really add a whole new feel to your balcony garden.
While having plants on your balcony is all well and good, there is little point to having a balcony garden if you don’t have a little room to sit outside, enjoy the fresh air, and take in the beauty of your own handiwork.
When you’re planning out what plants you’ll be growing, be sure to consolidate and think about how much room these plants might take up. You want to leave a little room – or maybe a lot of room if you entertain frequently – to enjoy the outdoors after coming home from work or school.
If your most of your balcony garden consists of hanging plants, flower boxes, and wall plants, then you have plenty of floor room to play with. Add one or two chairs or maybe even some colorful cushions if you’re a floor-sitter. If you have a lot of potted plants, you may have to select your seating arrangement a little more wisely.
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