How to Grow a Garden on a Balcony

Having a garden may be the dream of many who live in their own homes, but for those living in apartments it could seem impossible to achieve.

By using a balcony or terrace, you may be able to create a garden of your own and enjoy some benefits of having plants at home. Even a small balcony could be turned into a miniature garden by using pots and planters. You could grow a variety of your favorite plants and flowers, or edibles to use in the kitchen.

Starting a balcony garden from scratch can be challenging, and it is important to research and plan while preparing. Plants and their containers must be chosen with care Sunlight hours, temperature and your own availability affect the type of garden that best suits your balcony. By planning which plants to buy, how to arrange them and how to take care of them, you can help ensure your balcony garden thrives and flourishes.

Determine Your Goals

Before you begin growing your balcony garden, you need to decide what you want to get out of the experience. You might want an aesthetically appealing addition to your home, for example, or a way to grow your own fruits and vegetables. This affects the type of plants you choose and the type of planning you need to do to ensure you can grow these plants successfully.

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You must decide the amount of time, effort and money available for this project, as this can impact the type of plants you choose for your balcony garden. The money you can spend affects how you plan your garden as well. You may need to buy one or two plants at a time, for example, rather than setting up everything at once and risking becoming overwhelmed.

Assess the Space

The balcony on which you plan to grow your garden must be assessed before you can start to make any further plans. Everything from its size to its location could affect the plants you choose and the way you arrange them. Consider the following factors:

  • Sunlight is vital to consider. Some plants thrive in shade and wither in strong sun, while others need bright sunshine daily. Time the number of hours you have sun and shade on your balcony, and at what time of the day. You may find some areas have more shade than others, and you can arrange your plants accordingly.
  • Temperature affects the type of plants you can choose, as some are better suited to heat and others to cold. It is possible to make adjustments, such as insulating the pots to protect them from cold air, but you need to make sure the plants can survive through any alterations. If you are making your plans in summer, make sure to research how cold it might get in the middle of winter.
  • Size and shape must be considered when designing the garden. Have exact specifications with you when you go shopping for plants and containers, preferably as a labelled diagram. In doing so, you can select plants and pots within these pre-drawn parameters, which eliminates the possibility of returning items to the store later. Be careful to leave enough space for you to move about the balcony and continue using it as a balcony.

Maintenance

While any garden requires maintenance, some plants need more care than others. If you have little time to spare, choose plants with lower maintenance requirements. If you want a project to spend time on at home and are interested in making it a priority, you could design a more challenging garden.

An important factor in maintaining your balcony garden is water, as it can be difficult to get large quantities of water onto a balcony. Consider installing an irrigation system if you do not have a faucet near the plants. If you have a large balcony, try grouping the pots together in certain sections so they are easier to water at the same time.

Choosing Plants

Do plenty of research on the types of plants that suit your needs and location. You may need to seek out advice at a local garden center when making your purchases if you need additional help with the selection process. For any plant you purchase, take note of the following:

  • Watering needs
  • Fertilizing recommendations
  • Drainage needs
  • Sensitivities, such as to sunlight or cold
  • Special care instructions

Planning a Layout

Once you know which plants you want to have, you can plan a layout. You may want to wait until you have all the plants before trying them out in different positions and arrangements, but it could be more convenient to have some idea of where to put them beforehand. It is important to remember how each plant grows and take the time to consider what the garden may look like in a few months or in a few years.

It is worth bearing the seasons in mind as you plan your garden, as some plants might flourish and flower at different times of the year. Consider varying your layout so there is always at least one plant with leaves or flowers in each section throughout the year. You might be able to layer different seasonal plants within a single pot to make best use of your space.

Working With Containers

It is important to choose your plants before you begin buying pots and containers. Many plants require containers with specific dimensions of depth and width to match their root structures. You may want to allow certain plants more room to grow, giving them larger pots than they immediately need. The soil you use must also be suitable for container gardening.

The material of your containers affects the way you plan your garden, as heavy pots may need to be spaced carefully if you are working with a small balcony or fire escape to ensure you do not damage your balcony or exceed building codes. The material may affect the water required, as terracotta pots may need watering more frequently than pots made of other materials. The pots need to have the correct type of drainage for the plant and its watering needs.

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