Living in an apartment doesn’t mean you can’t have a gorgeous garden that’s full of decorative, fragrant and even edible plants.
If you live in a densely populated area in a smaller home or HDB flat, a balcony garden can be the perfect escape from your urban existence.
But, before you go credit card crazy at the nursery snapping up more balcony plants than you’ll be able to water, we’ve got a few tips for you to read.
Here are nine great balcony garden ideas to get you started.
1. Check the weight-bearing maximum of your balcony
Before you start buying heavy, concrete pots and big gardening containers, you should make sure your balcony can handle the weight.
If you can walk on it, it’s probably strong enough to hold a basic balcony garden – but you should check with your body corporate or landlord before doing anything extensive.
If you can’t walk on your balcony, you should seek advice before setting up your pots and containers out there.
2. Explore vertical gardening
Some balconies are extremely small, which makes it difficult to build a decent garden, but there are lots of different balcony garden designs to try – and vertical gardening is a great solution (more suitable for landed property owners).
You can purchase mountable hanging gardens, make vertical gardens out of plumbing pipe or construct a shelving system from recycled palettes. It’s the perfect solution if you lack floor space on your balcony.
3. Use your gardening equipment as decorator items
Storage can be an issue on small balconies, so make sure your gardening equipment is attractive so it can be kept on display. Metal watering cans look great displayed among potted plants and small spades, while clippers and spray water bottles can look fantastic mounted on a peg board on the wall.
This will save you having to keep bulky storage boxes that will take up too much space in a limited area.
4. Consider a balcony lawn
You may think because you live in an apartment you can’t have a lawn – but there are a variety of options available for apartment-dwelling lawn lovers.
You can buy lifelike synthetic lawn tiles that are an easy, cost-effective way to enjoy a balcony lawn.
You can also opt for a container lawn where you lay turf on specialised rubber that provides ample drainage for seeded balcony grass. Seek some advice at your local hardware store and they should be able to help you out.
5. Experiment with water features
Water gardens are very easy to maintain and they look beautiful among clusters of other plants.
6. Upcycle for container gardening
Add some extra interest to your balcony garden plants by upcycling and mixing up your choice of pots.
You can use almost anything as a pot for your plants, you just have to make sure it has ample drainage so the plants don’t drown.
You can try using vintage apple crates for herbs, ceramics with holes drilled into the bottom, jars, buckets, old drink containers and tin cans.
7. Add comfortable seating
If you’re going to the trouble of creating and maintaining a balcony garden, you should give yourself a spot to sit and enjoy your handiwork.
An outdoor sofa or even a few inexpensive and fun plastic chairs will be an excellent addition to any balcony garden.
8. Plant climbers
This is a particularly great idea if you own your apartment. You can plant climbers to cover your balcony rails, walls and even the ceiling. Once the climber grows efficiently it will provide a shady and private sanctuary for your balcony.
9. Check out your local nursery for balcony garden gadgets
Go to your local nursery and check out what’s on offer for balcony gardens. There are always new gadgets and solutions on offer and you never know what you might find.
All balconies are different and will require different solutions so take along measurements of the area and photographs so you can make the most out of your space.
Some of the types of plants you can use to liven up your balcony garden include tomato plants, rosemary, succulents, cycads and chilli plants.
Here are our top four balcony garden plants to add to your outdoor space.
1. Tomato plant
Tomato plants are super easy to grow on small balconies; the top tip is to source dwarf varieties before planting them in pots. “Tomatoes thrive being in the sun for a minimum of five hours which makes them excellent balcony plants,” says Gisele Zanier, founder of Beyond Sunflowers.
Rosemary is one of the most resilient edible plants – so it’s a dream for balcony gardens. Gardening expert Fabian Capomolla says these plants will tolerate wind, heat and dry conditions and grow well in containers.
His tip to encourage growth? Regularly cut a sprig or two for use in the kitchen.
Many of us love succulents for their easy-to-care-for nature. On your balcony garden, it can look super cute to feature a small (or large!) cluster of potted succulents. They help add shape and texture to a balcony space and create interest.
Tip: Less is more when it comes to watering these plants.
4. Chilli plant
Chilli plants make wonderful balcony plants: you can eat them, they add colour to your outdoor space, and they’re hardy enough when given plenty of water and sunlight.
It’s recommended they receive around five to eight hours of sunlight a day, so just be sure to place the plant in a well-lit position.