A balcony garden sounds like a lucrative idea to utilize the space in your house for instilling some greenery. A green balcony usually has microclimates.
This means the areas are different for plantations than that on the ground.
You may have shade somewhere, sunlight elsewhere in the same tiny space.
Hence, there can be temperature fluctuations and extreme conditions.
This article discusses what you should consider before making a garden on the balcony and how to set it up.
If you are looking for livening up your little outdoor green balcony space, keep reading below to know how you can do that!
Balcony Garden Considerations
First, let’s evaluate if it is feasible for you to make a garden or add greenery to your balcony.
Where Do You Live? Is it Allowed?
If you are living in your own 2 story house then it would not be difficult to set up a garden in one of the balconies.
However, if you live in an apartment or a condo, things can be different.
For that, you will have to consider if your building allows plants as fruits and vegetables may attract pests and birds.
How Much Space Do You Have?
Space may not be as big an issue as you may think.
For that, you should consider your space to be three-dimensional.
Vertical spaces can be to hang planters.
If there isn’t enough vertical space you can make it by piling up your plant pots and also making trellises i.e a wooden structure for the plants.
So vertical gardening can be an option but so can be arranging beds and larger containers on the outside corners to spread the load.
Walls can come in handy to hang plant and flower baskets.
Can it sustain the additional weight of plants?
It is a good idea to check whether your roof or the balcony can take the additional weight of plants full of soil.
You may have to make some changes such as going for lightweight soil, and using fiberglass containers, rice glass, or plastic containers rather than the usual terracotta pots.
Planning a Green Balcony
Sun and Heat
Before carving out your green space, first, examine how much sunlight and heat reaches your balcony.
South-facing balconies are ideal for getting enough sunlight.
Similarly, southeast-facing and southwest-facing balconies will suffice too.
Usually, buildings can hinder the amount of sunlight that reaches the balcony.
Hence, you have to assess how many hours of sun each space need using a gardening tool i.e. a sun calculator.
Then you can choose the varieties of plants according to the amount of sunlight.
If you have a north-facing balcony then all you need to do is grow a shade garden.
Besides the sunlight, knowing the heat the area receives is also important.
After all, rooftops and balconies can get scorching hot in summers.
That does not bode well for plants that may dry out in this much heat exposure.
If there is not much heat, you can grow lettuces, but if there is, you can grow succulents.
There are plants for every condition.
This brings us to the second factor…
Knowing how much wind your space gets can alter what you should be applying and refraining from.
For instance, you can plant wind-tolerant plants if there is a lot of wind.
But you do not have to entirely limit yourself as you can make windbreaks.
Put the wind tolerant bigger plants in the front and more fragile and tender ones in the back.
Since the wind usually dries out plants quickly, you will need to frequently supply water to the plants.
This can be done manually or through a drip irrigation system where a small amount of water consistently reaches your plants.
Planting rosemary and other wind tolerant plant is your safest bet.
Also, do not forget to use stronger pts if there’re strong gusts of wind flowing in the area.
Shade and Water
Besides sunlight and heat, you should laos be wary of cold and shade.
In order to look for areas with shade go to the balcony in the evening, afternoon and morning.
At all 3 times, look where the shade falls.
You do not want to first put the plants and then realize that shade falls on the plants almost all of the time.
This way you will have a good location from the beginning.
When it comes to checking how cold your plants can stand, remember that your balcony is basically a microclimate.
Therefore, your zone may be different from how a plant grows in a big open space and garden.
Your plants should be rated two zones more tolerant that the cold tolerance of your area.
This is how these plants can last you all winter.
Check your plant hardiness zone and see if you can plant the plants that last all winter.
Your balcony will look better as lush green rather than barren all year long.
Water availability is one of the earliest things to consider.
Watering house plants can become difficult for balcony gardeners as the faucet may be far away from the plants.
You may have to look into options for pots that are far away and large.
These can be drip irrigation, using a large watering can and a self watering pot.
Also keep water drainage in mind.
You should put saucers and trays under your plants to prevent any overflow.
If you are lucky then your balcony may already have drainage holes.
All of this at least will not annoy downstairs apartment dwellers.
Now let’s have a look in what kind of plants can make your balcony green and pleasant to visit on a daily basis.
Growing Plants in Green Balcony
Now that you know of the conditions that best suit your plants, you can delve into which ones you should be adding to your green balcony.
You should avoid plants that will take up entire space such as the squash plants.
Instead you should look for other plants that will beautify your space.
Do You Want To Grow Food?
What’s better than growing your own food?
Not only will it be cheap but also flavorful and organic.
If your balcony faces sun directly as it is in the south then you have a great amount of sunlight for growing most fruits and vegetables.
Among plants, you can grow cacti.
All you need to do is to water all these plants aplenty so that they do not dry out.
On the other hand, if the balcony faces north, you are looking at a shade garden.
Growing your own food will become difficult in low light, though, you can still have a greener balcony with plants such as ferns, begonias, coleus, and hostas.
Though you may be lucky with a few herbs and greens.
Lettuce, spinach and chards can grow in a half day with sun.
Though, it will be hard for them to grow in more shade.
Speaking of herbs, if you are past this restriction of sunlight, try growing thyme, oregano, basil and sage in your balcony.
For leafy greens, you have kale, spinach and loose leaf lettuce.
For garlic and peppers, there is artichoke and Camelot respectively.
Other vegetables that you can grow include eggplant, swiss chard and cucumber.
Among the fruits, there are tomatoes and strawberries.
Tips for Green Balcony
Choose big containers
While you are growing plants on the balcony, it may be a feasible option to opt for containers.
However, the containers will dry out fast and you will need to water plants regularly in case they do not wilt.
By choosing large pots and containers you are increasing volume.
Thus, the soil can hold more moisture and will evaporate slowly thus retaining water.
Transplant Seedlings not seeds
Need a headstart into gardening?
Instead of going from seeds, buy seedlings from a nearby nursery.
Then transplant these into your garden.
First-time gardeners will have it tough with seeds.
If you are an expert, then you can surely handle them.
Though, first-timers are better of getting a seedling that grows faster.
Get Self-watering containers
While bigger containers are good to retain moisture, self-watering containers are even better.
These large containers can wick water from a chamber present at the bottom of plants.
It gives the roots of your plants a constant supply of water.
Put larger containers on the floor
If you are willing to sacrifice some space and foot room, place larger containers on the floor.
Larger containers that have plants need some space to grow.
Pepper, eggplant, tomatoes and beans are all good to plant in containers on the floor.
They need space to grow and will overtime occupy it.
Incorporating all of these tips will make your balcony area and the garden easier to care for.
A lush green balcony looks soothing and lavish at the same time.
Once you set it up with plants, it can be your personal retreat in your home.
Keep an eye out for pests and take good care of the plants.