How to Start a Balcony Garden - Our Top Tips.

24th June 2024

Every day, as I walk around the city and look up, I see apartment balconies either looking sparse or empty, cluttered in washing or full of half-dead and burnt plants in plastic pots that are faded and cracking.

Why are we reluctant to invest the time and effort into designing our balcony gardens? I believe it comes down to three main sore points for apartment dwellers: Time, Cost, and experience.

Balconies should be an extension of our home where we can relax and enjoy.

TIME

We all complain about not having enough time to do most things, and gardening is no exception. When it comes to gardening, though, we have much control over how much time we spend on it based on the garden style and the plants we choose.

When I speak to clients about designing yard gardens, it's common to hear that they are looking for a low-maintenance garden but want a large lawn! Well, I've got news, folks—these two wants do not match up! The same goes for balcony gardens.

  • Don't plant flowering annuals, veggies, and herbs in lots of small pots if you want to keep maintenance levels down. These plants will suck the time out of you with their neediness.
  • Stick to slow-growing trees, shrubs, and perennials. They'll appreciate a little attention less often.
  • Although larger pots are initially more expensive, they will provide better moisture retention and reduce watering requirements, saving you time.
  • Never skimp on adding compost & mulch! These are your best friends in potted gardens.
  • Pick plants that suit your balcony exposure, and you'll avoid spending unnecessary time trying to keep them alive.
Finding a balance between time, money, and experience will help you connect to your perfect balcony.

COST

Gardening can be expensive, especially if you have zero patience and want an instant effect. But the cost is also relative to each individual, so work within your means.

  • Set a budget and stick to it
  • Make a plan before heading to the garden store so you don't spend money on the wrong plants or purchase pots that won't fit!
  • Measure your balcony and get to know your space. Is it full sun, part sun or full shade? Morning sun or afternoon? Undercover or exposed to the elements? You will need to know these things before selecting the best plants.
  • You can save much money by purchasing smaller plants and waiting for them to grow into their space. Young plants need to be tended to more often, so be prepared for your maintenance requirements to increase. You may need to weigh the amount of time you can spare vs the extra spend to buy larger plant specimens.
  • If you're on a tight budget, keep it simple. A large feature pot with a single tree and some ground covers might be more cost-effective than a dozen smaller pots and plants. Not to mention, they will take up less time to maintain.
  • It is also sensible to start with fewer plants and pots and add to your collection over time. Be sure to pick pots in common colours and shapes so that it is easier to match them up if the same pot isn't available next time.
Measure your balcony and get to know your space. Is it full sun, part sun or full shade?

EXPERIENCE

Many people simply get overwhelmed when they consider setting up a garden and never break past this paralysis! Don't let a lack of experience hold you back from having a space to retreat and relax while enjoying the outdoors and fresh air. Learning to garden can be a rewarding and addictive hobby, but it's not for everyone. Some people just want a lovely garden to appreciate.

  • Decide if you want to learn how to garden or sit back and enjoy it
  • Seek advice at the plant store. Horticultural professionals are a wealth of knowledge! Just be prepared to answer questions about your space and maybe even take pictures beforehand.
  • Perhaps hiring a professional to maintain your balcony will ease the stress of doing it yourself. Chances are the maintenance costs will be lower than you expect for such a small space.
  • Hire a professional to help you with your project. Whether you are just looking for a design to get you started or seeking a full service that includes design, installation, and maintenance, getting off on the right start will prevent mistakes that can cost you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

I dream that one day, I will look up at the towering buildings that fill our cities and will be delighted by the sights of flourishing gardens that are as unique and beautiful as the communities that live within them.

Until then, I look forward to helping educate those seeking a greener living space. So, what's stopping you from creating your own balcony oasis? Maybe we can help.

Our designers specialise in small urban gardens, terraced housing, balconies, and decks. If you are thinking about transforming your small outdoor space, don't hesitate to get in touch for a, no-obligation consultation.  

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