Balcony, Terrace and Patio Gardening

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At first glance, gardening on a balcony, terrace, or patio might not seem to be any different than gardening in a container. The main idea seemingly appears to be the same. You can garden in a small space and with the help of a few potted plants, you’re willing to show the world that your home can meet the natural world.

But then you realize that this whole idea comes with its own fair share of challenges:

  • Which flower or plant can survive wind gusts and shadows that keep shifting?
  • Will your balcony or terrace be able to support the weight of these containers?
  • How will you water the plants without drenching the tenants below with the same water?
  • Will your garden look as pleasing to passerby as it does to you?
  • What will you do when winter comes?

Succesful balcony, terrace or patio gardening can be tricky for many people at the start. With the help of this article, you’ll be able to transform your small gardening space into a beautiful urban paradise!

Flowers and Balcony Gardens

Flowers that can fair well in a rock garden or an alpine garden can be ideal for a balcony garden. In an alpine environment, a balcony garden sees a lot of wind. The leaves and low profile of the flowers can protect them from breaking, and they, in turn, do a good job of surviving.

Balcony gardening
Decorated balconies

Alpine flowers can also survive on significantly less water compared to other flowers. This makes them low maintenance and easy to care for. You can also include Armeria so your garden can have bright pink flowers in the spring.

Delosperma, on the other hand, will give you flowers that look like a daisy. But these mature over a longer period of time, so you’ll have to wait to see the end result.

Dianthus flowers have a spicy fragrance, while penstemon can attract butterflies and bees. If you can’t commit to the perennials, choose a plant that can withstand drought.

This way, you won’t have to worry too much about your plant surviving. Flowers like the Vinca can clean themselves, so they are significantly low-maintenance, too.

Choosing Balcony Gardening Containers

There are a few things you should determine before you start balcony, terrace or patio gardening. You need to first determine if you’re going to need permission to start a garden.

Take out some time and learn the regulations around a balcony or terrace garden. If you think the plan is too ambitious, try to take guidance from a structural engineer so you can make sure everything is safe.

The best part about poly-resin containers is that there isn’t much difference between them and a stone pot, but they don’t weigh nearly as much. And if you want to make your garden even more lightweight, you can try to put empty milk jugs in the large pots instead of the soil.

Fill the bottom of these pots with coco coir. This will provide brilliant drainage and it also starts to break down very slowly.

The Design of Your Balcony Garden

The trick behind the balcony, terrace, or patio gardening is to create enough diversity without making it look chaotic. Choose a few colors and then keep all of the colors of your garden in the same color family.

Try going for a hot color family like a red or a yellow, or you can also go for a color scheme of purple and white. Contrasting colors like blue and orange work very well, too.

Balcony Garden design

Another great idea for balcony, terrace or patio gardening is vertical gardening. When you’re trying to create a gardening space in a small area, saving up floor space is one of the most important goals. Try placing pots or pots on the walls. A bracket that you can hang on a wall is a lot safer than hanging baskets on a tree.

In high winds, the tree can topple and fall down. You can also get ornate pieces. These will look better and will complement the architecture of your building a lot better. You can also install tuteur so it can support a vine that flowers. Vines like the firecracker will always stay in bounds.

If you have permission to grow trellis on a wall – keep it at least 2 inches from the wall. This will stop the problem of the plant rotting.

Caring for Balcony Plants

Watering balcony plants is usually the most common problem for people gardening on a balcony or a terrace. This is mainly because the tenant below you won’t be necessarily pleased when mud starts pouring down from your balcony on to theirs. If you’re trying to avoid this problem, try getting a drip irrigation system.

This will give your potted plants exactly what they need. There won’t be any extra condensation. You’re also going to need an irrigation system that has the capacity to hold up to 5 gallons of water. Some other balcony watering ideas can be a capillary mat or a drip cap. You can attach these to a recycled plastic bottle. The capacity can should at least be two liters. 

Because your balcony garden is usually a small space, pest control methods that can be laborious in other gardens appear feasible in a condition like this. One way you can get rid of pests is by handpicking large insects that you can see.

Before you do this, make sure you put on gloves and drop all offending insects like beetles, slugs, and caterpillars into a bucket of soap water.

Make sure you catch these insects early. These insects can spread very quickly in areas that are small. As you care for your garden and watch it grow, get a kitchen composter that can help you turn vegetable leftovers into healthy food for your plants. Some models can also work without them being smelly.

Upon the arrival of winters, balcony, terrace and patio gardening can get a little tricky. Gardeners have to come up with different ways to save their plants.

If you have an annual plant, it can be fun for you to watch fresh produce every year. If some of your flowers are exotics, there can be a chance of you overwintering them through a sunny window.

Hardy perennials can survive in their large containers, remember: large containers that provide brilliant drainage are the key here. You can take these large perennials for overwintering outdoors. This can be a fun challenge if you’re used to a balcony, terrace, or patio gardening.    

Even if you lack outdoor space and don’t want to put in the effort of maintaining a garden that is in-ground, there are many ways you can enjoy flowers and greenery on a terrace or a patio.

A patio garden will require more thought than most gardens. There are many other elements to a patio garden than just putting plants beside a chair. 

To design a garden well, you’re going to have to consider elements like softening edges, framing, creating pathways and maximizing the potential of your patio.

Framing Your Garden

Decorated Patio
Decorated Patio

It’s essential that you create a clear distinction between your patio and your terrace. That is how you will turn your apartment’s outdoor space into an outdoor room. You can do this by outlining your patio with an easy to see border. You can try to build elevated planters around the edges or you can also create an edge with different kinds of containers.  Here are some ideas for these recommendations:

Borders

When you have a border surrounding your terrace, you’re able to enjoy the best of both worlds. You’ll have a true garden to enjoy, and you’ll never have to leave your living space.

Even if the border is narrow, there’s a lot you can achieve from this garden space. Apart from the plants that spill on to the patio, you can also create heightened walls of small shrubs.

When the border runs across the house and the patio, you can also grow a fruit tree to lay against the wall of the house. The openness of the tree’s branches enables it to produce an excellent yield in a small space.

Built-Ins

Many patios have a built-in flower box around their perimeter. These flower boxes can, at times, provide added seating space in the patio. They can also provide an eye-level garden, and you also have the advantages of container gardening. Your plants can enjoy the extra insulation that is provided by brick or stone.

Many plants can do well in a situation like this, but it would be a lot better if you have scented plants such as heliotrope, roses, gardenias, sweet peas and jasmine.

Containers

If your patio doesn’t have a defined border or a built-in box, you can create that same effect with a container. Use a range of containers that look the same and simulate the effect of a built-in border. You can also try clusters of different shapes and sizes that are filled with different kinds of plant material.

You can create a visual difference between your living space and the patio with any of these options.

Softening the Edges of a Terrace or Patio

Even though stone can look beautiful on the edges of your patio, it can make the patio look a bit hard and uninviting. Here are two plants that can give your patio an inviting feeling, and you’ll have people crowding into your patio in no time.

1. Spillers

If a plant grows on to the stone, it will automatically soften the hard edges created by the stone. Air or light foliage can be brilliant for this purpose. Plants like love-in-a-mist, lady’s mantle, lavender, coreopsis, and ferns are some good examples of the plants that you can use.

Remember, when you’re picking plants, pick them according to the sun exposure your patio gets. The stone in your patio will get hot when it comes in contact with sunlight, this will raise the temperature of the plants and they will require more water nonetheless.

2. Creepers

Unless your terrace or patio is paved, there will be spaces between the stones in your gardening space. Soon enough, you’ll learn that weeds can grow into these spaces.

To deal with this situation, you can use these spaces to grow something attractive, which will make the patio look prettier and also keep it free from weeds.

There are several plants that grow on low-heights and can be walked upon. Some of the plants that can be walked upon are sedum, thyme, moss, scotch and creeping jenny. But don’t try to fill all of the cracks in your patio, though. Plants can become slippery when they get wet, so you should carefully plant these crops away from the high-traffic areas.

Few spots will do the trick and you’ll have a beautiful looking patio in no time. You’ll be surprised at how quickly these plants will find their way around your patio.

Plants Around a Seating Area

Plants around a seating area
Woman sitting amongst plants

One major consideration you should make while growing plants around a seating area is that you should leave enough space for you to get to them. Leave at least 3 feet on either side of a table or chair so people can sit on these chairs comfortably. Also, when you’re selecting plants, make some wise judgments.

Consider the growth rate of the plant and what size they’ll be when they are completely mature. Some plants can be trimmed down, but some plants start to develop thorns as they mature, so they are obviously a bad choice for an area you have to sit in.

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Conclusion

Balcony, terrace or patio gardening can be fun when you know what to do – but it can be equally challenging when you make the wrong choices. From a broader perspective, the whole process is about making the right choices and avoiding plants that make your attempt at light gardening laborious. Once you have the right elements in place, you’ll have a balcony, terrace or patio that everyone loves for a hangout.