Planning to have a green corner in your apartment but are overwhelmed by speculations, questions, and ideas? Not sure how to go ahead with the idea or what it takes to get started.
Don’t worry, we have your back. ‘Balcony Gardening’ is not as complicated as it seems. With these pointers, you can not only have a beautiful garden up and running without much hassle, but also maintain it well. Let us check out how to make a balcony garden step by step.
How to make a balcony garden
Let us see step by step how to make a balcony garden? Follow the steps to create a balcony garden.
Step-1: Society Regulations
Before taking the plunge planning a Balcony Garden, be sure the society you live in is okay with it, the same is the case with rented apartments – check with your landlord if the contract allows you to have plants either indoors or on the balcony.
Most societies encourage plants but have regulations in place for potted plants in balconies, including their weight, the height you can place them at, nets and other safety equipment to be installed, hanging pots from hooks that are already provided, or specific places in the balcony ceiling where you can drill holes for the same, mounting cabinets and planters on walls to name a few.
There are stricter regulations for a drainage outlet for the spillover water as well as regular checks for mosquitoes and other insects in collection trays under pots.
The walls of the balcony in most societies can be used as a vertical garden only after seepage and long-term implications are considered.
In older constructions, however, it is important to consider other aspects like the age of the building, the condition of the balcony, and existing damages to the structure of the building if any before planning. Make sure you are aware of the regulations coupled with safety norms before moving ahead.
Step-2: Map out your space
Planning is key to not only getting things done but doing them right. Now that you have a go-ahead from society it’s time to start working on a plan to set up the Balcony Garden of your dreams. But before you jump into purchasing pots and planters for your garden, start by measuring your space.
This may seem like a petty task but is the most important part of planning the garden. Once you have your dimensions simply plot them on a piece of paper – a visual representation of the balcony garden will give you a clear idea of ‘what goes where’, ‘what to keep and what to lose’, and ‘what needs to be bought’.
Keep in mind that all aspects of the balcony will need to be measured, including the height, the clear space needed to maintain the garden after placing the pots – watering pruning, etc. will require approximately a foot or two depending on availability.
If you consider incorporating a sitting area, adding furniture or other embellishments to the garden mark out designated spots for them as well. Once these basics are out of the way you have a clear picture of the amount of space available for pots, planters, and/or hanging pots.
You can then decide on the number of planters you would like to have based on their size.
Together with these a list needs to be made of stands and other materials required to mount the planters and pots, you also need to check to see if there is a provision for hanging pots, a pegboard with smaller pots will be used or would you consider wall-mounted ones to reduce both effort and clutter.
After these decisions are made you need to consider the types of plants that will be planted along with special provisions in terms of infrastructure for these plants including poles for climbers, a shed for the non-sun loving plants, and nets to keep out birds and insects.
Before zeroing down on the types of planters you need to consider their weight. Individual pots may not weigh much but with soil, water, and the plant itself, planters get heavy.
To avoid excess weight consider buying high-quality poly-resin planters that look just like concrete or stone, have a similar feel but weigh just a fraction.
This will reduce the overall weight on your balcony. Along with this, you could reduce the weight of containers by placing Styrofoam peanuts at the bottom half of large pots and top it up with soil. If you prefer using only natural materials, you could fill the bottoms with coconut coir, which provides excellent drainage and breaks down slowly. This method can be used for hanging plants as well
The direction your balcony faces is important when it comes to choosing the type of plants to incorporate in your urban paradise. In east or west-facing balconies most plants grow well as it provides an adequate amount of sunlight.
North facing balconies, on the other hand, remain shady most of the time, and hence sun-loving plants won’t grow well as compared to a south-facing balcony that remains sunny longer which is not a happy place for shade-loving plants.
The availability of sunlight needs to be coupled with how windy the balcony is in during the day especially in the evening, during monsoon and winters, this will not only determine the types of plants but also the material of the planters and how they need to be arranged.
It is also necessary to have a source of water either in the balcony itself or close to it. Gardening in any form even in a small balcony can get messy. It is always an advantage to have fresh water at hand.
In addition to this, it is necessary to have a drain for the access water. Remember to have a net over the drain opening to avoid clogging.
Step-5: Keep it simple
Setting up a balcony garden is fun with the pot variants available, colors and all that you can incorporate in your space.
You could go for a live wall, hanging planters, planters stacked up on over the other, a lush lawn growing on the floor, creepers, flowering plants, a vegetable garden, gnomes and other garden ornaments, seating arrangements, swings and many more. With so many options at hand, you need to be mindful of ‘not overdoing it’.
Gardening is a commitment and requires time and consistency, a lush lawn will only remain lush as long as its maintained, same is the case with a wall arrangement or potted plants. Assess the amount of time you are willing to commit every day if you don’t have a lot of time at hand or travel a lot, grow plants that require low maintenance.
Customize the garden according to your availability and preferences. Growing a mix of flowers veggies/shrubs climbers depending on your taste is a good way of keeping it interesting – perennials and annuals, plants native to the region are easier to grow.
Diversity is interesting because it makes the garden look less chaotic and cluttered. You could incorporate color schemes as well with reds and yellows for a hot scheme, purples, and whites for a cool scheme or contrasting colors like blue and orange. This will help with uniformity and the overall look and feel of the garden.
Step-6: Budgeting for Balcony garden
Piggybacking on the previous point, along with keeping it simple budgeting plays an imperative to keeping you on track, preventing overspending. Set a budget and stick to it.
Getting new material seems like the best option, but you could consider upscaling things you already own and using them as planters and embellishments for the garden, the key is to spend only where it is absolutely necessary.
The Balcony garden could be your art project of sorts where you put together different pieces in terms of the overall decor, seating or planters. It could also double as a family activity where everyone contributes in some way or the other making it a combined display of art.
Budgeting also applies to the number of gardening tools you buy, try limiting yourself to a bare minimum.
Step-7: Maintenance of Balcony Garden
Having plants is like having a pet, you need to give them time, energy, and lots of love and affection. An important fact to keep in mind is that plants that grow in planters or pots either indoors or outdoors require more care and attention as compared to those that grow on the ground where most nutrients are easily available.
Hence apart from watering them regularly, plants need to be pruned, the soil needs to be cared for, fertilizers need to be added and pest repellent needs to be sprayed regularly.
Apart from these while caring plants emphasis need to be given to the amount of sunlight they receive, watering and the quality of soil used.
The amount of sunlight depends on the position of the balcony as discussed previously. You could also have a shed if you wish to plant shade-loving plants or opt for electrical stimulators if your balcony is too dark.
Most potted plants need to be watered regularly. Apart from this common knowledge you need to take into consideration the climate in the area you live in, for example, if you live in a hot and dry area the plants might require watering more than once a day to remain healthy.
Another factor to consider is the pot used, plants potted in terra cotta pots, need more watering as compared to those potted in fiberglass or plastic pots. Seasonal changes also influence the watering frequency, in summers, you might need to water them twice as compared to during winters.
For a healthy garden, experts recommend the slow watering technique where you take time with each plant, watering it slowly till the excess drains out of the bottom as opposed to rush watering where you dunk water at one go.
In conjunction with your daily watering routine, having a backup watering plan is important. Along with regular pots, there are self-watering variants available in the market, with attached as well as external drippers and sprinklers, there are also several videos over the internet that help create mini self-watering ecosystems.
These methods and gadgets are particularly helpful if you work erratic shifts or need to travel often. Apart from these, you could also get someone plant-sit for the duration of your absence.
The quality of plants depends primarily on the soil used to plant them. Don’t use just any soil, the soil needs to be of good quality, you also need to add compost and fertilizers regularly to maintain its quality.
Another trick that experts swear by is covering the soil with moss to retain moisture, this is particularly useful for hot and humid locations and also during summer.
In addition to these pointers, we have put together two checklists to help reduce stress even further. The first checklist aids in starting a balcony garden.
Checklist: Starting a Balcony Garden
- Society regulations about having a balcony garden– Yes / No
- Things to keep in mind in terms of society policy ______________________
- Balcony Dimensions – L _____ B _____ H _____
- Clear space required for watering, pruning etc – _____
Sitting area – Yes / No
If yes size _____________
- Deco – Yes / No
- yes size _____________
- No. of Pots required – _____
- size – __________
- No. of hanging pots required – _____
- Other stands – _____
- Plant variants – ____________________
Along with this checklist, you could use the second checklist for maintenance – this will help keep a track of the types of plants you have and details of any special attention required, it also contains a slot for dates you added fertilizers and sprayed pest kill coupled with a reminder to check the undertray for pests
- Name of plant – ______________
- Specific attention required – Yes / No
- If yes what ______________________
- Fertiliser added on _____________
- Next date to add fertiliser _____________________
Pest kill and control
- Pest kill sprayed on ____________
- Next date to spray pest kill _____________
- Under tray checked on ____________
- Next day to check undertray _____________
We assure you with the help of these tools starting and maintaining a Balcony Garden will literally be a walk in the park.
You may like the following gardening articles:
- Balcony, Terrace and Patio Gardening
- Balcony Container Gardening Ideas
- Best 20 Beautiful Small Balcony Gardens that you can start today
- How to grow tomatoes in Balcony Garden
- How To Plant A Herb Garden In Pots
- Water bottle gardening – Useful Guide
Did you get enough information on how to make a balcony garden? Are you starting your balcony garden now?
I am Elsa, love gardening. I spent lots of time with plants, flowers, it gives me lots of happiness.
I am sharing all the practical tips on how to grow various plants, flower plants, vegetables in the garden. Read more about me.