Urban balcony gardens are a popular trend for apartment dwellers who want to grow their own fresh, organic vegetables but don’t have the yard space. Start to build your urban balcony garden today with these tips from the experts!
1. Plan for Optimal Growth in Tight Conditions
The challenges of a balcony garden are the same as any container garden. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Put great soil in your containers—plants need great soil.
- If you’re growing veggies, pick plants specifically bred for this “tight” situation, like bush cucumbers.
- Use your vertical space effectively. For example, string or bamboo gives you extra space to run climbing vines like morning glories or beans.
- Feed your plants every time you water. Water-soluble fertilizers are a good choice.
2. Use Your Vertical Space
Don’t have a lot of space? Grow up instead of out with a vertical garden. You can create a colourful garden in a small area or harvest vegetables and herbs by taking advantage of wall space. Vertical gardens work indoors and outdoors. Some plants love shade and can thrive in a dark, cool environment. Others, like succulents, need lots of sunlight and thrive outdoors.
Wisteria is a great choice for a small balcony if you have some vertical space. You can put it in a small or medium pot and let it grow vertically up a trellis or another structure that you can lean against one wall. The result? Lots of greenery that doesn’t take over your balcony.
You can also consider a flowerpot hanging system or plant stand to make use of your patio space. These systems allow you to grow multiple varieties vertically.
3. Plan Based on Exposure to the Elements
The sunlight your balcony receives throughout the day is important. Ensure you also pay attention to indirect sunlight. Most balconies only get light from one direction, so align your selected plants accordingly.
For sunny exposures, consider:
- Flowers: Morning glory vines, calibrachoa, petunia
- Vegetables: Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers
- Herbs: Oregano, sage, mint and basil
- Plants: Succulents, coleus, elephant ears
For partial sun/shade exposures, consider:
- Flowers: Begonias, fuchsia, astilbe
- Vegetables: Lettuce, spinach, beets
- Herbs: Chives, Parsley, rosemary
- Plants: Ferns, coleus, caladium, hostas
Also, don’t forget to consider how much wind your balcony gets. If you are on a higher floor, you might have to shelter your plants from gusty conditions.
4. Pick the Right Containers
Be mindful of your container selection, and ensure they have adequate drainage. Consider the following:
- Large pots retain more water, which makes for less watering.
- Try fabric grow bags as containers. They are great if you ever need to bring a plant indoors.
- If you travel a lot, you explore self-watering containers, which make watering easy.
Potting soil is best for container gardening because it’s lighter in weight. Add mulch, moss or shredded cedar to containers to retain moisture.
5. Water Plants Effectively
Watering is key. The main obstacle people face with their balcony gardening is that potted plants dry out quickly. Even missing one day of watering can destroy your balcony garden. Installing some basic irrigation system or just making watering a solid part of your daily routine is essential. It can save you the headache of rehabilitating a damaged garden down the line.
Containers dry out quickly in the summer heat, stunting your harvest. Try drip feeders that attach to large soda bottles if you don’t think watering can become a staple in your daily routine. These tools allow you to leave for the weekend without worrying about watering while you’re gone.
6. Plan Your Garden Harvest
If you’re growing vegetables, succession planting is essential. This practice helps maximize your yields and ensures a continuous supply of fresh produce. Succession planting involves planting new crops immediately after you’ve harvested the previous ones, keeping your garden in a state of constant productivity.
To make the most of succession planting, it’s crucial to plan ahead and consider the specific harvesting periods of the plants you intend to grow. Different vegetables and herbs have varying growth cycles and maturity times. By coordinating your planting schedule, you can stagger the harvests and ensure a steady flow of homegrown goodies throughout the growing season.
7. Think About Balcony Design and Décor
A backless bench on your balcony offers a seating option that doesn’t impede your natural eye line. This, with the use of some planters around the bench, will create the illusion of more space. The planters also create a lovely fragrant seating area if you grow varieties like evening primrose and sweet rocket. Teak is also an ideal wood for those who do not have hours of spare time to spend on maintenance—it will naturally mature over time.
You can use your plants to design a beautiful balcony area. Consider:
- Majesty palms to help screen the balcony’s back wall. You can also use them along your balcony’s railing to add more privacy.
- Easy-care flowers like bright blue lobelia, rhythm and blues petunias, or snapdragons.
You can repeat these flowers along the balcony’s edge and add the blousy, cottage look of no-fuss cosmos, an easy-care wildflower that attracts butterflies for a nice balcony ambiance.
8. Be Mindful of the Wind
When creating your urban balcony garden, don’t forget about wind protection. Strong winds can be quite detrimental to your plants, especially delicate ones. To safeguard your green oasis, consider implementing windbreaks such as outdoor curtains, lattice panels, or strategically placed tall plants. These not only shield your garden from harsh gusts but also add an extra layer of privacy and charm to your outdoor space. By incorporating wind protection measures, you’ll ensure that your balcony garden thrives no matter the weather, allowing you to enjoy your little piece of nature without worry.
9. Consider Outdoor Lighting
Don’t let the beauty of your balcony garden fade away with the setting sun; illuminate it with outdoor lighting. Consider options like solar-powered or energy-efficient LED string lights. This will create a cozy ambiance and provide practical illumination for evening gatherings or quiet moments of relaxation.
Find Your Next Apartment
Are you looking for a rental apartment that will meet your balcony garden dreams? Browse our available suites at CLV Group today!
NOTE: Please speak with your Property Manager before creating your balcony garden, as some restrictions may apply.