Aah, apartment life. It’s chic, it’s easy, no lawns to mow, no mulching, no drains to clean. But every once in a while, especially when spring is in the air, don’t you get just a tiny bit jealous of garden owners? Or at least those with a patio?
There comes a longing for an oasis – a private place where we can rest our weary selves and just look at thigs growing. Feel the pride of having planted something ourselves from seed to fruit. Let’s be honest – there’s something about spring that makes us want to participate in the circle of life.
Before you go crazy at a nursery and buy everything you can lay your hands on (it’s called green fever, and many people experience this affliction), do some research and read about what kind of plants and hardware can help create your perfect balcony garden, just in time for spring!
If you live in an apartment or a condo and have a balcony – you know, that place where you keep your bike and extra shoes – you can prepare a little garden oasis of your own. There are a few steps you should take first in order to determine what kind of plants you should purchase.
What Kind of Balcony do You Have?
When planning a balcony garden, the first thing to check for are probably things you have zero control over. This will help you determine what kind of plants to get!
Lighting is one of these things beyond your control. How much sun does your balcony get? Is it in full sun, partial shade, filtered sunlight (do you have a tree in front of your balcony?) or full shade?
There are plants that respond very well to all of these light conditions, and it’s important to match them according to their needs. If you’re hoping for a succulent garden, it might not do too well in full shade and the big leafed Hosta will get burned by too much sun.
Going Vertical on Your Balcony Garden
Once you have accessed what kind of plants will do best on your balcony garden, you can start planning the layout. No matter what look you’re going for, it’s a good idea to draw it out to scale. If you have a large balcony you can plan a more lush, secret garden type of set up, as well as add some extra features.
With a tiny balcony, you have less choice, but you can still be very creative and create a tiny city oasis. With some know-how and imagination, it can be ready in time for spring!
On a small balcony, it’s sometimes a good idea to go vertical. There are trellises that will guide any vine, and your choices are many. For a sunny balcony, you can choose climbing roses, grapevines, Evergreen Clematis, or even hops – they aren’t only for making beer! They also make a tasty calming tea.
Other vertical options include a vertical succulent garden that you can attach to the balcony wall. This depends if you rent, own, and if you’re allowed to mount anything to the wall.
A good non-drilling option is a hanging vertical greenhouse designed especially for balconies. There are a number of balcony greenhouses available, and you can extend your growing season by using one. Maybe even grow some kitchen herbs a bit outside of growing season!
A Touch of Zen
Little additions might make relaxing on your balcony garden oasis a little more calming. One of the things that help you relax is water features. We’re not talking a Versaille-sized fountain, but a tiny bowl of water with a small pump that will generate the sound of flowing water.
Research has been done that suggest that the sound of trickling water and rain generate alpha wave activity in our brains. These are associated with deep meditation and relaxation.
Having a beautiful outdoor candle also sets the mood for springtime balcony sitting. You can find ones that have a lemony citronella scent – to drive away the evening mosquitoes.
Hanging lights – these can set the mood to be like little tiny fireflies, or Chinese lanterns, or old-time Edison lights in an urban, loft-style balcony.
Mood Setting Balcony Plants
There are a number of plants that will immediately make your balcony “pop” and change character.
Hanging plants – anything that drapes, hangs and makes a green curtain is an immediate show stopper and can transform your balcony in seconds. These include plants like large Fuschias, ferns, ivy, or certain types of geraniums.
Trees – what? Yes. A small tree or even a few might be a great idea for a larger balcony. Put in a row, they create an almost park-like atmosphere and although they take up a bit of space, they are absolutely lovely. Citrus trees are great and also a benefit to your kitchen. Maples, dogwoods, figs, olive trees and laurels are also a good choice for a pretty and useful balcony tree.
People feel better and happier when they are closer to nature. Getting outside, whether a park, a forest or a garden isn’t an everyday option for a lot of city dwellers. With spring coming quickly, it’s a great time to start planning – even if all you do for now is to sit down with pencil and paper and draw a future vision.
Don’t let your balcony become another storage space, but consider transforming it into a refuge and a place of peace and tranquility.