Last Updated Jul 13, 2010 · Written by Craig Gibson
Do you live in an apartment but still want to have a garden? You don’t have to miss out – your balcony can host a garden as good as any home, just on a smaller scale!
Why Have a Balcony Garden?
With the increasing number of people choosing to live in apartments these days, garden space is being placed at a premium. However, it doesn’t mean that you have to go without as a little imagination can go a long way. Creating a garden on your balcony will give you more options for entertaining and relaxing, and you won’t have to share a communal area!
Think you’ll be missing out on certain things if you opt for a balcony garden? Think again. New technology means that you can have water features, sculptures and even irrigation systems worked into your garden design. However, there are some logistical issues to be considered such as security, the maintenance level of the plants, and the effects of temperature and the wind. Balconies are often far more exposed than regular gardens but a garden design professional
can easily help you overcome this hurdle.
The Right Plants
you use will depend greatly on environmental factors such as the amount of sun and shade the balcony gets, the wind levels and also the temperature variations. As balconies are traditionally composed of brick, concrete, glass and paving, it is important to acknowledge that these will create their own climate and plants need to be selected in accordance with this.
Make sure that the plants you choose will be happy to live in pots. After you have selected a plant to suit the environment, then you can focus on their individual characteristics. Hardy plants such as succulents and grasses will suit the sunny, windy spots on your balcony while shade-loving plants can brighten up that dark corner.
Plastic and fiberglass pots are particularly suitable for balcony gardens as they are lightweight but can be made to look like a variety of other materials including concrete, stone and terracotta. However, you should still make sure that the pot is of substantial enough weight to withstand wind. Plastic and fiberglass also retain moisture for longer than other pots.
Always make sure that the pot is larger than the root ball of the plant so that the plant has adequate room to grow. A larger pot will also help the plant to withstand weather conditions. Never leave potted plants standing in saucers of water as they need to be well-drained. Try using pot feet to solve the problem. Also make sure that you use the best quality potting mix that you can afford – a good mix will hold moisture and nutrients while also being free-draining and well-aerated.
Fertilizing and Watering
It is important to use a slow-release fertilizer regularly on potted plants to ensure that they are healthy and growing well. Always follow the directions on the packet and don’t forget to water in the fertilizer well after application in order to prevent burning.
As balconies are mostly covered, they do not get much rainfall and it is therefore important to establish a watering system for your balcony garden. If you are after a low-maintenance option, it is possible to install an automated irrigation system that does all the work for you or you can simply make the watering a soothing part of your morning or evening routine.