Living in an apartment building doesn’t mean you can’t surround yourself with the colors, fragrances and the feel of nature, and a balcony is the perfect spot for a green oasis. Besides the flowers, veggies, herbs (or all three) a balcony garden can enhance the view or block an unpleasant one while providing privacy.
One of my favorite places for a coffee when I’m downtown is the 8th floor balcony of an old office building. Plexiglass shelters the seating area from wind and it’s filled to the corners with greenery. The surroundings, especially the plants, are beautiful and after 20 minutes (or an hour) I’m ready to tackle the rest of the day.
Home balcony gardens have the same effect and with a little planning, your balcony garden will be just what you need before or after a busy day. A comfy chair or two, side table and plants; a few herbs (imagine fresh basil in the spaghetti sauce) a trellis, maybe shelves, and your basically set.
A few things to think about when planning a balcony garden
Depending on your building and the size of the garden you want, consider a couple of things in the planning stage:
Weather – the direction the balcony is facing will determine how much sunlight your plants will get in a day. Plants requiring full sun need a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight per day; if you’re high up choose plants that will endure the wind.
Building regulations – check if planters or trellises can be attached to walls or railings and consider weight restrictions if you’ll be using large planters; wet soil is heavy.
Water and drainage – if there’s no outdoor faucet, think about how you’ll do the watering and if the neighbors’ balcony is directly below, ensure drainage goes the right direction in the event of overflow.
Plant size and winter storage: Starting with large plants? Be sure you can get them through the elevator doors and if you’re up north – will they survive the winter or need to be brought in?
Have I discouraged you from the idea of a balcony garden? I hope not, but if it won’t work in your building or your growing season is too short, an indoor garden in the living rooms, a spare room or kitchen can be equally inspiring; but that’s a topic for a separate post.
Inspiring Balcony Gardens
I’ve collected photos of balcony gardens from Flickr (all photos are used per Creative Commons license) and sites that I love to frequent and they’re all so awesome that now I want a balcony! I’ll settle for the downtown coffee-shop at least for now, but many of the ideas here will work beautifully on patio and small-space gardens.
Photo above by Marnie Thorp, Balcony Garden designed by Susan Lee Hem from Small Space Gardening in Vancouver, BC Canada
Thanks for reading! I hope you’re as inspired as I am about gardening and if you’ve got photos of balcony gardens or a gardening project you’re proud of, please share here.