Not everyone has the luxury of a garden, particularly if you live in an inner city flat or maisonette. I’ve been looking at three good ways to make sure you don’t fall out of touch with nature in your concrete jungle. They are planning, pots and plants – or the ‘Three P’s’ as I like to call them!
Measuring out the size of your balcony can get you off to a good start. It saves you getting over zealous on your foliage or lugging an oversized plant home only to lug it back to the shop again to swap for a smaller size.
Sketch out what you would like to see. Take a look at top interior design blogs or magazines for artistic inspiration, as there are a hundred different ways to decorate a balcony! Do you want it sleek and modern, chic and retro, overflowing with greenery or something else entirely?
Figure out in the beginning if you want to have your balcony as a seating area or if you intend to go as green as possible – is it just something pretty to look at, or does it need to be functional too?
Once you have the measurements nailed, it’s a good idea to work out how much sunlight you have to offer your plants. This will be critical in your choice of foliage. If you don’t want to stand and count the hours as they pass, get yourself a sun calculator.
In addition to sun, it’s a good idea to work out the amount of wind and heat that is hitting your balcony. Making a gestimate on these will be fine. Then ask at your local garden centre which species will thrive with these sun, wind and heat levels!
It’s best to splash out on pots once you have grown a few things from seed or had plants for awhile first. Getting into the swing of watering and feeding will show you whether you will actually enjoy nurturing your plants or not. If you work away regularly, it’s also worth considering if you can realistically keep plants – cacti may be better!
To reduce weight on the balcony, pots should be filled with lightweight “planter mix” rather than with soil. Then it’s a game of plant Tetris, fitting everything in! For a modern look I like to line up rows of identical pots, but for a more bohemian inspired look nip to your local garden centre or flea market and pick up a variety of pots in all shapes and sizes!
Variety is the spice of life. Miniature climbers like scarlet runners, sweet pea and small ivy plants are all wonderful for filling your bars, brackets and walls. For lower down, Sonata Series and Mahogany Midgets fare well in most weathers.
I love plants that climb and creep along pvc cladding and balcony bars. These can really add colour and a homespun feel to any grey areas you want to cover up.
So those are my best ways for making the most of your balcony, do you have tips to share at all?
James Duval is an IT specialist who is addicted to gaming. He lives for the sound of a great guitar riff and writes a mean blog for Eurocell! Although he wouldn’t admit it to his mates, he has a bit of a thing for gardening and likes to watch his balcony plants flourish under the sun!